Home » News » Green Bay » The long and winding road

The long and winding road

By Kris Leonhardt

Acting Editor

GREEN BAY – A glance back at the last decade of Ian Wilson’s life might not show it, but the long and winding road that led to his success was filled with adversity.

“I entered into college, actually at UW-Stevens Point, right out of high school with what was probably a misguided approach to what my career was supposed to be. But to be fair, I was never one of those people that woke up early on in life as an adolescent and knew exactly what I wanted to do. So for me, I’ve always had, I guess, this envy of people that have always known what they wanted to do. That just wasn’t the case for me,” Wilson explained

Ian Wilson

“So it was kind of a winding road there for a little bit. I ended up enlisting in the military. So I joined the Army shortly after my first year in college, because there was just this lack of direction and I think I had an adventurous spirit.”

After serving his country, Wilson returned to Wisconsin.

But Wilson said that he just “time-warped” back into the same situation that he was in before his military tenure.

“I think that’s why a lot of different friends and other people I served with, a lot of them got out but shortly went back in, because there was maybe a lack of direction once again when they got out,” Wilson explained.

“I spent some time kind of bobbling around again, I think I even took up some different coursework at NWTC at that point in time. And during the waking hours, for money, I was working as a carpenter working construction.

“I even entered into an apprenticeship for carpentry; carpentry and construction are always something that from even like high school summer jobs, construction was kind of like a backdrop of work.”

But, then the stock market unfolded in 2008, and when his young family found themselves financially challenged, Wilson dove back into his education with the help of the Veterans Association.

“If there was ever going to be a time, it was going to be that time,” he said.

“I picked the architectural program because it was a good culmination of everything I knew and the different coursework I had already done.

“We were in the position as a family where failure was not an option, and I probably took it to the extreme. The sting of struggles just didn’t feel good.

“When I entered back into school, it was full commitment.”

After graduation, Wilson entered the workforce as a manager and then transferred to a new job, where his employers didn’t have money to pay him.

“We took a leap of faith and started our own architectural firm and it has been extremely successful,” Wilson said of his company, named Nolan-Carter after his sons.

The Nolan-Carter Foundation

While Wilson was receiving his education, his family began their struggles with autism.

“Sometimes I think that all of the challenges I had up until that time were just beginning exercises to what that challenge was going to be,” Wilson stated.

At that time, Wilson said that insurance didn’t cover care for autism, and the state had a two-year waiting list to get assistance.

But Wilson said that the overall goal was “going to be his way through.”

That became another catalyst for not just educational and entrepreneurial success, but also for paying it forward.

“About a year and a half ago, we started the Nolan-Carter Foundation. It’s in its infancy, but it’s one of the things we are most proud of. The foundation at its basis is to give back to disabled children, disabled young adults, and then also what we can do to help bridge some of the gap between children with disabilities, and what happens to the child as they turn into an adult,” he explained.

NWTC Soaring Alumni Award

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) recently awarded Wilson with the 2022 Soaring Recent Alumni Award, recognizing his “commitment to his family, community and college.”

Ian Wilson
Ian Wilson accepting his 2022 Soaring Recent Alumni Award. Submitted photo

“He really stood out among the other applicants just because of his incredible story. He was a graduate from the 2012 architecture program…who overcame adversity to provide for his family,” explained NWTC Alumni & Donor Relations Coordinator Natalie Magnin.

“It’s just a daily reminder of what matters most is what he really just emphasized with his story – is that family is so important to him and NWTC was the perfect tool to help him get to where he is at now in life.”

But, Wilson said that he wasn’t in it alone.

“You know, my wife, Toni, had an extraordinarily large influence and has dedicated most of her life to our achievements. And we’ve had, we’ve had so many people along the way and staff and family and colleagues, instructors and you name it; there’s just been a large amount of people that have helped out along the way to get to this point,” Wilson said.

“So for me it was it was kind of double humbling, because it’s humbling to have somebody think about you in that way and to nominate you, but then it’s also humbling that you were provided so much support, and  that that for me was the hard part, of taking soul recognition.

“You know, it’s a 10-year window for this award, but it’s been a much longer journey to get to this point, going to NWTC and in finalizing what was a longer road of educational different winding roads.”

Wilson said that the award allowed him to walk down memory lane and reflect on all of that.

“It allowed me to go back and re-picture all of these different segments of this period of time. Ten years from the graduation, it’s long but it is also quick. Looking at all of the things that we have been able to accomplish and now to be in a position to be able to give back. It seems like a dream.”

Wilson said that he supports the theory that “people vastly overestimate what they can do in a year, but they vastly underestimate what they can do in 10 years.”

Facebook Comments
Scroll to Top