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Alumni Story: Thriving as a child, to keeping the childlike fun as a successful professional

March 31

two adult males playing foosball tableAlec Burcham and his brother Elliott attended Wisconsin Youth Company After School program and summer camps in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin during the early 2000s. Emily Wills, development director, connected with Alec to hear more about his memories of WYC programs.

Emily: What are some of your favorite memories from After School?

Alec: My older brother was also in After School. And I think it’s something we talk about at least every other time that we talk on the phone. It was certainly more fun than school! In a lot of ways, I almost learned more at After School. I made some of my best friends at After School.

It was a perfect balance of allowing kids to be kids. I remember playing dodgeball and it was more fun playing dodgeball at After School than during the school day. We would be playing dodgeball, and you wouldn’t want to go home! It could be you and two other kids and you still wouldn’t want to go home. That’s really the way it was!

I remember we made projects [for the Spring Fair] and then we got to show them at the Alliant Energy Center. That was super cool. To this day, I still remember my projects. They were all space themed. They gave out ribbons too!

I remember we had a teacher who was British. She was telling me all these stories about life in England, like: “My husband, when he was a kid, they had a single inch of snow and they had to shut down the school and the whole city!” That was the turning point in our relationship when I was like, “woah, who is she? She’s cool!”

You were allowed to have those relationships with the supervisors. You actually get to meet them and connect with them.

It was an open, creative, caring environment. You were there with all your friends. It was great.

EW: What are you up to now?

AB: I went to school at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. I earned a degree in industrial technology management, and minored in occupational safety management, building construction safety management, and business administration.

I think I just found myself in the right place at the right time for all these things. With a can-do attitude.

Currently, I work for the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the WisCon program. Our work is similar work to that of Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

It probably stems from my After School beginnings, but there is something about being a kid that I never let go of. I like to think that in the professional world, I’m pretty successful, but among friends I am the most kid-like, goofball of them all. I’d like to think that After School had an impact on that.

Do you have a story to share? A memory of your time in After School as a child, or how Wisconsin Youth Company programs made an impact on you or your family? Please share your story.