Student graduates college, opens business before graduating high school
Orlowski knew from a young age what his goals were — and we went out to achieve them at an early age
From a young age, Hunter Orlowski knew he wanted to own his own karate school.
He trained hard to become skilled at karate, eventually being selected to compete internationally. But to open the school, he also knew he needed something else — namely, a college education.
By May 2021 both dreams became reality -- one month before he’d even graduated from high school.
“I knew I needed an education to reach my dream. I gained that education at Gateway Technical College,” says Hunter.
“I feel great knowing that not only I accomplished all of this before I graduated high school, but gaining this college degree will give me the edge I need for my career and business.”
Hunter, an East Troy High School senior, graduates with a Gateway associate degree in Business Management. Not only that, but he is the Student Responder, or the voice of the student body, for the Business programs commencement ceremony. He opened his karate school three months before graduating.
It was Hunter’s sophomore year he realized that he could, indeed, graduate from high school and college the same year.
“I thought, ‘how cool would that be?’” says Hunter. “I mapped out what I would need to do and then I went out and did it.”
Hunter says it wasn’t easy. He had to keep up with his high school classes while playing high school baseball and soccer, but he kept to his plan. He earned 34 transcripted and Start College Now credits — college credits earned free of charge from Gateway and taught by college instructors at Gateway campuses or at the high school by high school teachers certified to teach Gateway courses — as well as taking about the same amount of courses and paying out of his own pocket at Gateway’s Elkhorn Campus.
“We’re very proud of Hunter, and I’m excited to see where he goes,” said Hunter’s Business teacher and East Troy Career and Technical Education director Deb Leising. “He’s got such a jump on his career and life through his work. He’s a great kid, and I am excited for him.
“Hunter is mature beyond his years. To know at that age what you want to do for a career — and then move on to earn the college degree while you are still in high school to gain that opportunity … You have to be very goal- and assignment-focused, and he has been.”
The quality training was exactly what Hunter said he needed to reach his dreams. In particular, the skills he learned in marketing, finance and communications courses have already helped.
“We opened the karate school in January of this year and definitely used all the business skills I learned at Gateway to do that. I still use it today, especially in the area of finances for the business.”
Hunter says all the extra work has helped him in many ways, from giving him confidence in opening his businesses to general confidence in his skills.
“When I started, I knew nothing about business and marketing. After about five classes I felt like a whole other person. I had a better idea of how a business is run, how to communicate with people, how to market a business. Gateway has made a huge impact on my life.”