My Price County Administrator
Jan 10, 2019 at 01:27 AM
Phillips High Alumnus Gives Back to the Community
“You can truly achieve anything you want in this life if you are willing to work for it,” was the advice given to Justin Drljaca, a 1996 Phillips High graduate, http://www.phillips.k12.wi.us, by his grandfather. He feels that was the best piece of advice he has received, which has followed him throughout his life.
Justin moved to Phillips from Houston, Texas just prior to his freshman year of high school. “Attending PHS was a major change from what I was used to. The smaller class sizes and personal attention that was available helped me grow as a student. The teachers showed a genuine interest in our growth. I don't know if I would be where I am at today if it weren't for my mother’s decision to move to Phillips. It is truly a special place,” Justin shared.
While in high school, Justin was involved in football, basketball, golf, soccer, and track. After graduation, he attended the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, graduating with a degree in biology. For the next ten plus years, he had a career in the finance field. “I got into this career for the money and was good at it, but it also was a roller coaster financially. During the recession, I ended up losing everything, including my business. In 2013 I made the decision to pursue a new career path. I spent the next nine months living off of savings while looking for the right opportunity. In 2014, I landed a career in manufacturing automation. I am a sales engineer for Barry-Wehmiller Integrated Systems, and I absolutely love my career. It is very mentally stimulating and allows me to see how everything we consume is made. I travel the country working with engineers (from food, beverage, and household personal care manufacturers) on automating their production lines. My company actually has ties to Phillips as they own Marquip (BW Papersystems, http://www.bwpapersystems.com).”
As for Justin’s personal life, he married Brook in January 2018 in Key West, Florida. “My beautiful wife is my biggest supporter and fan. I do not know where I would be without her.” He said they are in the process of purchasing a home on the gulf in Florida and becoming snowbirds like his grandparents. “Growing up on Soo Lake instilled a passion for fishing in me that still exists today. Although my career has reduced the time I am able to spend on it, I still fish bass tournaments from time to time throughout the country. Last summer I took 9th place out of 180 competitors in the FLW Tour on Lake St. Clair in Michigan.” Justin also enjoys classic cars. He said, “My father-in-law is an avid collector of classic cars and that bug has now bitten me, as well. I am the proud owner of two numbers matching Pontiac GTOs, a 1965 and a 1969 convertible. I spend my free time either fishing, going to car shows, or traveling with my wife.”
To obtain personal and professional success, Justin would advise young people to find a career they like that is also financially fulfilling. He advised, “Find a career that interests you, but don't be afraid to think ahead and find something that will allow you to reach your financial goals. There are careers out there that provide both. As soon as you join the workforce, speak with a financial planner and start saving for your future. If you start early, you can be retired at a very young age.”
In order to give back to the community that gave him his footing, and to help young people in the Phillips area meet their full potential, Justin has started an annual $2,500 scholarship. A qualifying member of each graduating class, who is pursing a post high school degree in either automation or a trade, such as lineman, electrician, HVAC, plumbing, etc., will receive this scholarship.
Justin feels strongly about the success a person can have in automation or a trade, and he will also mentor the scholarship recipient. According to him, “Automation is a fantastic career path for those that choose to pursue it. It has been a blessing for me and my family. I am still close with many friends from PHS, of which numerous went into the trades. Automation, as well as the trades, are continuously seeking talent and provide a great opportunity for growth and income stability. My goal with this scholarship is to not only help someone pursue their dreams but to help guide them in a career choice that will lead to prosperity. I will personally make myself available to each recipient for advice and mentoring.”
Interested students will need to fill out the application, submit a 750 word or less essay regarding the chose career path and life goals, plus provide academic information such as ACT results and transcripts. However, GPA will not discredit someone from receiving this scholarship. For more details, the application can be obtained in the guidance office at the Phillips High School or you can click on the link, Drljaca Scholarship.pdf, provided to the left of this article.
If anyone is interested in donating to the scholarship fund, checks or money orders can be made payable to Phillips High School c/o The Justin Drljaca Automation and Trade Scholarship. Money can be sent to 990 Flambeau Avenue, Phillips, WI 54555. The school will mail any donor a receipt for tax purposes.
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[Edited by My Price County Administrator on Jan 10, 2019 at 01:54 AM]