Retiree Wayne Walusiak of Spring Grove believes in lifelong learning
Wayne Walusiak, retired pilot, returns to college to pursue new skills.
Retiree Wayne Walusiak of Spring Grove believes in lifelong learning and even though he has a bachelor’s degree in business management under his belt, he has returned to college to pursue skills in two diverse areas that interest him -- first responder and computer security.
Walusiak, 65, started at MCC in August 2013 after retiring in May as a pilot for United Airlines, ending a 27-year career in the aviation industry that included pilot, instructor and airplane salesman. Not wanting to sit idle as retirement loomed, he started a second career as a realtor seven years ago, where he currently works part-time in addition to attending college.
He plans to complete his certificate in Emergency Medical Technician (EMT Basic) by this summer, fulfilling a goal he started 40 years ago when he received an EMT license while living in Arizona. While other commitments kept him from pursuing that line of work at that time, he now has the time to update his first responder skills that will allow him to help administer aid to people he might encounter at anytime.
“My main interest is to help people who might get hurt in a car accident, for example. Also, if someone is having a medical emergency and I am nearby, I want to be able to help,” he said.
He is also pursuing an associate degree in computer security and plans to use his credentials to work in the field part-time.
“Retirement is one thing, but there’s a lot of things I can do,” Walusiak said. “I’m looking for something to keep me busy. I like to work with people and I have built computers for family members.”
He credits the MCC Student Veterans Association for helping him through the details of being a new student and appreciates the support from other college staff.
“The administration, instructors and staff have been very nice and helpful to me while I have been getting reacclimated to college life,” he said. He also admires the young men and women who are attending MCC along with him. “They are doing something with their lives. They are the future of our community and country,” he said.
Adapting to a new routine is second nature to Walusiak, who is a Vietnam veteran who flew Cobra helicopter missions to gather intelligence. He also flew missions for U.S. Army generals and Washington D.C. medical evacuations while stationed at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia. After the Army, he joined the National Guard in 1974 and has been a member for about 24 years. With his GI Bill, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from the University of Illinois at Chicago in the mid-1970’s. He then worked in airplane sales to build flight time toward an airline career.
As a pilot, he flew internationally for many years and recalled the morning of 9/11 when he was piloting a 747 airplane from Frankfurt, Germany to Chicago.
“We received a printout that said a plane crashed into the World Trade Center and U.S. airspace is closed. We were instructed to land in Montreal and a Canadian Air Force jet would escort us to Canada.”
When he’s not attending classes, he volunteers for Boy Scout Troop #297 in Spring Grove as an assistant scoutmaster.
With a keen mind, he is always looking to learn new things and meet new people.
“Life is like a train. You’ve got to get on and go someplace,” he said. “There’s always something to learn from somebody.”