The Soar Higher Partner award recognizes a business that is championing technical education, promoting the College, and living NWTC's values.
Ian Wilson named 2022 Soaring Recent Alumni Award Recipient
At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), we pride ourselves on offering the education you need to advance your career when and where you need it. For some people, that means taking online classes, changing their careers, or obtaining the skills necessary for the next promotion. For our Soaring Recent Alumni Award recipient, Ian Wilson, it meant getting the skills and credentials needed to support his family when they were struggling.
Wilson is a United States Army veteran; a successful architect, entrepreneur, and businessman; and a loving husband and the father of two sons. The latter is what he credits for all his decisions and successes - the desire to provide a great life for his children. Family is the center of his personal and professional mission. It motivated him to persevere through his financial hurdles and become a successful business owner and community advocate.
Wilson's NWTC journey started in the mid-2000s when he left the Army and was trying to transition into the next phase of his life. He was taking a few classes at NWTC and working in construction to pay the bills, struggling to find how he could use the skills from the military outside the service. After trying a few different courses, he left NWTC to focus on working full-time to support his growing family.
Then, the Great Recession happened, the market unfolded, and construction jobs dried up.
“After the recession hit, I started taking courses full-time,” said Wilson. “I had a young family, and we were living in extreme poverty. I needed to find a way to provide for them. I was determined to figure it out no matter what it was.”
Starting back at NWTC was his ticket to a new life. After trying Mechanical Design for a semester, he transitioned to Architecture program, where he found the skills and support he needed to create a path forward and graduate with honors in 2012.
“I was always looking forward,” said Wilson. “The Architecture program was the tool I needed to get to the next level and support my family. It let me reach my goals.”
After graduating from NWTC, Wilson embarked on a professional architecture career spanning just three years before deciding to take another leap – starting his own business with his wife, Toni. The firm he was working at experienced financial difficulties, and he was unsure how he would continue to support his family. In a leap of faith, the Wilsons took the last of their savings and started their Architecture firm, Nolan Carter Architectural Design. Named after their two sons, the firm is a daily reminder of what matters most.
“I wake up every day and think about what I can do to support people and help them achieve their goals,” said Wilson.
And now he’s doing just that, both at the College and in the community. In the last year, the Wilsons were able to launch the Nolan Carter Foundation, which supports local organizations that help children and adults with autism. As a parent of a child with autism, Wilson constantly strives to provide his youngest son with a safe, fulfilled life. The Foundation allows him to do that on a broader scale, ensuring that our community creates more spaces and opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
“We want to give back to honor all the gifts we have received,” said Wilson. “We are proud of everything we have accomplished, but it feels nice to pay it back and do something greater than yourself.”
Wilson also pays it forward to help provide pathways to higher education for NWTC students and future architecture professionals. For the last eight years, he has served as a member of the Architecture program advisory board at NWTC. By helping align the College’s curriculum with the community and workforce needs, Wilson ensures students graduating from the program have the skills necessary to follow in his footsteps.
We are humbled and awed by Wilson’s unwavering commitment to his family, community, and the College. We are proud to recognize his hard work and success by naming him our 2022 Soaring Recent Alumni recipient.
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