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COMMUNITy the magazine of Metropolitan community college WINTER 2017-18


CONTENTS 1 A letter from the Metropolitan Community College Foundation 2 Culinary grad opens steakhouse in downtown Omaha 4 What students are saying Students reflect on their experiences at MCC


Despite challenges, culinary student follows his dream


Despite challenges, culinary student follows his dreams

8 Laying the groundwork Career Services resources promote professional development

10 Partnership helps students from MCC, UNMC 12 Switching majors brings success, happiness to fashion student


Switching Majors brings success, happiness to to fashion student


A gourmet classroom


African art comes to the Career and Academic Skills Center

14 Turning over a new leaf With care, holiday plants can thrive 16 A gourmet classroom Sage Student Bistro helps students gain experience, skill in the kitchen

18 Local manufacturer turns to MCC to fulfill workforce needs 20 African art comes to the Career and Academic Skills Center 22 Location spotlight: Fremont Area Center 23 Interior Design program gives students eye for style, taste in homes


Around the College

Winter 2017-18 Volume 5, Issue 4


Community is a quarterly publication of Metropolitan Community College. Contact the editor at 531-MCC-2876 or

Lead editor and contributor: Derek Rayment

Metropolitan Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, age, disability or sexual orientation in admission or access to its programs and activities or in its treatment or hiring of employees.

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Assistant editors and contributors: Jenny Milligan and Katherine Leszczynski Lead art direction: Trevor Pikop Art contributors: Jade Dyer, Susana Ruiz-Morales and Chanea Robinson

A Letter from THE MCC Foundation Dear friends and supporters, Many of us commit to a resolution to do more, better, different or less in a new year. As we flip the calendar, we welcome 2018 with a resolve to build upon the successes of 2017. Student success happens every day at Metropolitan Community College. But it doesn’t just happen. Student success is the result of motivation, integrity and hard work from students and the faculty, staff and community supporters who believe in their potential. Success looks different to every student. With many academic and certificate programs, MCC students earn high-demand technical skills and industry credentials. Other graduates advance to Nebraska’s four-year baccalaureate programs. Many other students turn to MCC to master foundational lifelong learning skills, through English language instruction, GED or college preparation. In this issue of Community, you will see many examples of student success. You will hear about an executive chef and MCC graduate from the Institute for the Culinary Arts. You will read about a multi-program project that will place a new home in North Omaha. And you will see the powerful role of education in the life of a student who came back to school to reshape her future. Yes, student success is a collective effort–we thank you for giving the gift of education! Very sincerely,

Jacqueline C. Almquist, Ph.D. Executive director

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Culinary grad opens steakhouse in downtown Omaha F

or many people, food is something they enjoy. For others, food is a lifestyle. Patrick Micheels falls into the latter category. Micheels, a graduate of Metropolitan Community College’s Culinary Arts program, recently opened Monarch Prime and Bar, a steakhouse in what was previously the Zen Room inside the Hotel Deco, 1504 Harney St. Micheels has been interested in food and its preparation since he was young. “When I was young, my dad and I were hunters. He taught me how to hunt, clean and cook deer. He definitely guided me,” Micheels explains. “We had a garden and harvested everything from carrots and eggplant to fresh herbs.” As a child, Micheels started watching cooking shows and fell in love. “They really inspired me,” he says. “They were all so organized in the kitchen and I wanted to be that organized.” Micheels, originally from Scottsbluff, Nebraska, heard about the culinary program at MCC and moved to Omaha to enroll. The education he received at MCC molded the way he acted in the kitchen and interacted with other chefs and crew members.

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Brian O’Malley, a Culinary Arts instructor, was his mentor while at the College. “I remember his level of inquisitiveness,” O’Malley says. “He always wanted to pick his head up and see what others were doing. It’s certainly rare.” “It was a pretty cool experience. You get a community of people who are in love with the food,” Micheels says. “I took every class possible. The faculty was great. Brian was a huge help. It was a great structure of people pushing you to be great. They have a great flow. I wanted to be like them.” While majoring in Food Science and working at the original student bistro, Café Metropol, Micheels worked at Dario’s Brasserie in Dundee. He continued working there after graduating, but knew he wasn’t going to stay there forever. “I was working at Dario’s and got a taste of what I really wanted to do,” he states. “The goal is always to open your own place.” Micheels had a few pop-up restaurants, a concept where chefs go into existing restaurants and do a takeover for a day or two. They change the name, menu and theme, then return it back to normal after a limited menu run. After doing a few pop-ups and working at Dario’s for more than four years, he left to start his own restaurant.

Monarch Prime and Bar is a sleek, upscale restaurant, filled with dark wood, vintage-inspired furnishings and large chandeliers. It gives one the feeling of stepping onto the set of “Mad Men” or even “The Great Gatsby.” Despite the vintage feel of Monarch, the menu is anything but that. The meats on the menu are dry-aged, a process not seen in many other places in the city. “There are a lot of steakhouses in Omaha. We wanted to make a modern one,” Micheels says. “We wanted to try dry-aging meat. You need time, temperature, humidity and airflow to do it. That’s the focus of the menu. It’s a big project.” Besides dry-aged cuts of meat that include steak, duck and bison, Monarch’s menu has many classic dishes that have been updated or given a modern twist. The menu is broken into sections labeled “To Begin,” “To Continue,” “To Devour” and “To Carve.”

MCC alumni are a common sight in the Monarch kitchen, with many of the chefs and cooks having attended the College’s culinary program as well. “With the people that apply, a lot of them have MCC on their application,” he says. “I know they have that good foundation. You need somewhere to start and the College’s culinary program is that perfect start to get seasoned. We have so much talent in the kitchen, it’s crazy.” Seeing a former student go on to open a restaurant is always exciting, O’Malley says, but it’s not something he ever doubted Micheels would do. “After meeting Patrick, it was obvious that this day would come,” O’Malley explains. “I’m glad it happened. It reinforces that you have to care and put in the work.”

“Everything is made in-house,” Micheels explains. “I don’t have a mayonnaise jar in that kitchen. Everything is from scratch. There is also never anything on the menu that’s not from or surrounding Nebraska. It’s very focused.” Since Monarch’s opening in October, things have been going well, Micheels says. “It’s been good. I’m happy with the way things are going so far,” he says.

For more information about MCC’s Culinary Arts program, visit

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WHAT STUDENTS ARE SAYING Student s ref lect on their e x periences at MCC The academic year is well underway, with many students in the midst of winter quarter. They’ve experienced the excitement of the fall quarter, the opening of the new buildings on the Fort Omaha Campus and have had the opportunity to take advantage of the tools and resources offered at Metropolitan Community College. When asked, the following students were eager to share their thoughts on their experience at the College. “I chose Metropolitan Community College as a source to further my education. The advisors here helped me put together a career path so that I could have an idea of where I’m going as I complete my prerequisites. I plan to study Human Services and learn the essential skills needed to serve the community and work with homeless and at-risk individuals.”

-Daylonika Hudson

Human Services Transfer

“MCC has helped me meet my goals by letting me have the opportunity to take classes that I am interested in towards my career, scholarships that I can apply to for school and having an easy transition to a four-year school.”

-Alexan Short

Design, Interactivity & Media Arts-Graphic Design

“MCC academic advisor Susie McWhirter helped me find the degree program and put a plan together that best fit me and my interests. Her guidance, along with available resources, such as technological assets, make it possible for me to be successful in my program.”

-Austin Clark

Visual Audio Communication Arts

“I am currently a high school student enrolled in the Plumbing Career Academy and the HVAC program at MCC. I’m also competing in SkillsUSA and work for an HVAC company. MCC has given me the opportunities to prepare myself to become a craft professional through awesome instructors and great facilities. I look forward to competing in the SkillsUSA plumbing competition and seeing what my future holds!”

-Josh Fowler


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Despite challenges, culinary student follows his dream I

n many ways, Mortel Crawford is like any other student in the Metropolitan Community College Culinary Arts program. “I heard they had the best culinary arts program,” Crawford says about why he chose MCC. As a student in the program, he has worked in the kitchen of the Sage Student Bistro, prepping food and cooking. Crawford also works at Big Mama’s Kitchen, 3223 N. 45th St., where he does just about everything that needs to be done in the kitchen. “I do a lot of prep work,” he says. “I prepare the salads, work the Panini press. I make the corn bread. I portion and weigh out the fries and Gouda macaroni and cheese. I fry okra, french fries and corn bites.” Only one thing sets Crawford apart from his peers in the kitchen: he is visually impaired. Crawford lost his eyesight in 2011 when he was caught in the crossfire of gun violence. However, not being able to see food hasn’t kept Crawford from following his passion for working with it. He says MCC has been nothing but helpful during his journey to completing his associate degree. “They have great accommodations for me,” Crawford says. “The instructors give me extra help in the classroom. Classmates will grab my ingredients. I get extended time to complete my quizzes, tutoring and midterms.”

It doesn’t stop in the classroom either, Crawford says. Teachers will often be available before and after class if he needs guidance on something. “When they’re done speaking to the whole class, I can pull them over and they can explain it to me personally,” he explains. “I can also call them if I missed school. If I have a problem, I can call, email or visit with them.” Before his classes begin, Crawford sets up a meeting with his instructor in the classroom so he can become familiar with the layout. It helps him be more comfortable in the class once it starts. “I set up an orientation before classes start so I know where to go if I don’t know the building,” Crawford says. “I am able to move around and work how I need to.” Once he has graduated from MCC, Crawford hopes to get his bachelor’s degree. His ultimate goal is to open a restaurant of his own where everyone can find something they like. “I want a family-owned and family-oriented restaurant,” he says. “Your elderly family members can eat, as well as diabetic, gluten-free, everyone.” Being visually impaired has made Crawford value his education even more, he states. “It means a lot to me because I want to teach my son that education is important no matter what he goes through,” he says. “It’s still good to pursue an education and reach the dreams you want to reach and the goals you set for yourself.”

“It means a lot to me because I want to teach my son that education is important no matter what he goes through.” -Mortel Crawford MCC student community • • 5

Opportunities abound in Washington County


s part of Metropolitan Community College’s fourcounty service area, Washington County has many services and educational opportunities at its disposal through MCC. County residents ready to make a career change, high school students beginning their college journey or individuals looking for a résumé-building noncredit course have a number of options close to home, or even at home with convenient online courses. Due to the number of options, knowing where to begin can be challenging. That’s where MCC recruiter Jayden Rannells comes in. He meets with prospective students and guides them through the programs of study and degree options offered at the College. Rannells is also available to help students registering for classes and will share essential information throughout the enrollment process to ensure a successful start at MCC. After enrolling at MCC, students can receive help along the way. With the addition of career navigators, students can have a point of contact while at MCC. Washington County has its very own with Michelle Miller. She is available to assist with career exploration and can walk students through the degree and certificate options offered at the College. She can also provide assistance with job and internship searches, portfolio and cover letter critique, career exploration, résumé-writing and interview skills.

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“We offer one-on-one appointments and are now even offering workshops focused on discovering potential career paths, interviewing skills and résumé-writing,” says Miller. Both Rannells and Miller are helpful faces focused on Washington County who can assist individuals, whether that’s an adult wanting to reshape their career or a high school student who wants to eventually pursue a four-year degree. Washington County residents who may not want to earn a degree but may want to brush up on professional skills or discover a hobby are not without options. Continuing Education, otherwise known as noncredit courses, are available at the Blair Public Library and other locations in the county. Want to learn about family history? Take the Genealogy Basics course. Need to learn about Excel to help you with taxes this season? Sign-up for professional skills courses such as Résumé Writing Basics and Computer Skills for the Workplace are examples of what is available.

To learn more about what MCC can offer, visit For a listing of noncredit courses available in Washington County, along with Miller and Rannells’ hours, visit

BRICK WALKWAYS AND BENCHES Show your support for Metropolitan Community College by purchasing a brick or bench plaque to engrave with a personal message of your choice. Your brick or plaque will be on display as part of the architectural landscaping on the Fort Omaha Campus. Your purchase provides support to the MCCF Matching Scholarship Fund and also serves as a lasting tribute to MCC. Call 531-MCC-2346 to order.

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Laying the groundwork

Career Services resources promote professional development


s a student progresses through a program, they should also consider what they can do to prepare for post-graduation. This is where Career Services comes in. A multitude of professional development resources are available through Career Services at many Metropolitan Community College locations. Career navigators meet with students to guide them through career assessment and exploration, job and internship searches, and résumé and cover letter assistance as well as a number of other services. “Our goal in Career Services is to serve as guides for students navigating their next steps in career exploration, searching for an internship or practicing for an upcoming interview. The student is in the driver seat—we are here to help them to unlock the doors to their future career and educational path at MCC,” Monique Cribbs, manager of Career Services, explains. In addition to the assistance provided by Career Services, a number of workshops are offered to promote professional development. One such workshop is Get to Work Wednesdays, held 1-3 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday each month at the Career and Academic Skills Center, 8 • community •

located on the Fort Omaha Campus and will rotate to other campuses in coordination with academic areas and location offerings. The purpose of Get to Work Wednesdays is to connect students, alumni and the community to employers in a smaller, more intimate environment and learn more about career, internship, mentoring and job shadowing opportunities. Participants are provided with a career passport that includes prompts to ask employers to help facilitate conversation. Employers can connect with MCC by registering to participate in a Get to Work or Network, Educate and Develop Talks to educate students on traditional and nontraditional careers in industry, or serve as a volunteer for mock interviews. They may also post their jobs via the Career Services MyHub link or NEworks Recruit MCC option. Employers who would like to connect with the College and MCC students can contact Monique Cribbs, Career Services manager, or Michelle Miller, Career Services navigator at 531-MCC-2400. The resources are not limited to what students can find in the brick and mortar structures of MCC campuses and centers. MCC is the first institution in the state to collaborate with the Nebraska Department of Labor and to use the NDOL job site, NEworks for

current MCC students and alumni. This site allows employers to search for MCC students and alumni who possess the qualifications they are seeking as well as for students and alumni to search for employers who are looking for applicants with their skills. In addition to NEworks, students may also access resources in the Career Services MyHub account on navigating NEworks, résumés and cover letters and an overview of Career Services. Upon completing a degree or certificate program, students are well equipped with the skills needed in their field, but with a competitive and vast job market, using the resources provided by Career Services puts students and alumni ahead of the game. Cribbs says, “Students may have 100 ideas or no idea at all on what to pursue, where to work or how to build their professional network. Career Services is available to help through individual appointments, workshops, connecting to industry professionals and career events. Our tagline says it all: Discover your passion. Engage in your education. Navigate your career.”

To schedule an appointment with Career Services, email Michelle Miller, a career navigator, at








$90 per player or $360 per team. The fee includes 18 holes of golf, cart, prizes, and chicken and brisket buffet following the tournament. Proceeds benefit MCC’s SkillsUSA students through the MCC Foundation.



• Open to faculty, staff, students and community members

• Noon check-in time

• Create and register as a team or part of a team

• Four-person scramble format

• Register as single and get placed on a team • Register no later than Friday, May 25 at

• 1 p.m. shotgun start • Registration is limited

Tiburon Golf Course 10302 S. 168th St. Omaha, NE 68136 402-895-2688

Become a Hole Sponsor • $2,500 includes two foursomes and buffet • $1,000 includes one foursome with cart and buffet

• $500 includes two players with cart and buffet • $100 hole sponsorship only

For more information and to register, visit, or contact Rick Sandvig at or 531-MCC-2345. Mulligans, raffles and live auction available day of tournament.

Metropolitan Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, age, disability or sexual orientation in admission or access to its programs and activities or in its treatment or hiring of employees.

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The experience opened the door for me to teach … – Matthew Northam

MCC adjunct instructor

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Partnership helps

students from MCC, UNMC W

hen research students at the University of Nebraska Medical Center graduate, they have many options. One path they can take is to work in a lab and continue doing research in different medical fields. However, permanent research positions can be challenging to find. When research students graduate, many look into teaching at the college level as a career option. However, during their time at UNMC, graduate students don’t gain student teaching experience. Four years ago, Metropolitan Community College and UNMC struck up a deal to help postdoctoral research students gain the teaching experience they needed in exchange for MCC students gaining access and experience in a medical research lab. Each fall and spring quarter, a few UNMC postdocs become student teachers at MCC, teaching various science classes such as biology or microbiology. “A lot of these postdocs may be looking for an academic position and need the teaching experience. This is an opportunity to get that experience and have somebody be a reference for them,” says Alan Wasomen, coordinator of the program. “They come over and teach with one of our experienced instructors for four weeks.” Matthew Northam, an adjunct instructor at MCC, was one of the first postdocs to be a student teacher at the College. “I had always been curious if I would enjoy teaching, but never before had the opportunity. My graduate program was research intensive and lacked a teaching component,” Northam says. “When I heard about the joint MCC/UNMC venture, I jumped at the opportunity.” At the start, the postdocs do more observing than teaching, learning from their assigned MCC instructor how to lead a class, write tests, grade papers and more. As the quarter goes on, they are given more and more responsibilities. “They get an increasing amount of trust,” says Wasomen. “By the time they complete four weeks, they should be conducting the class and making tests.” While the postdocs are coming to MCC, two students from

the College are chosen to get lab experience at UNMC. “They submit applications, we pick the best ones who would really benefit from the research experience and have goals, a good academic record and have expressed that they would be interested,” Wasomen explains. “They have done lots of different kinds of things there. They have done things with subcultures, brain cells and just a variety of really cool neuroscience and biology research.” All of the MCC students who were granted access to the UNMC research program have gone on to four-year institutions and stayed in the medical research field, dean of Math and Natural Sciences, Mike Flesch, says. “All of our past students have had great feedback for us,” says Flesch. Following their quarter at MCC, the postdoc students have newfound teaching experience and references to help them in the future. Some enjoy their time at the College and ask to stay on as staff members. “We’ve had about 12-15 people [since starting the program] and we have hired quite a few. We have hired five or six that have come on and taught here as adjunct professors,” Flesch states. Northam says the experience awakened his love and passion for teaching. He asked to stay on as an adjunct Biology professor at MCC and has also become an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. “The experience opened the door for me to teach undergraduate biology at MCC and UNO,” he says. “I am very grateful for the opportunity to teach Biology at MCC. I am currently teaching my third quarter at MCC and it keeps getting better every quarter. I have been very impressed with the College’s commitment to their adjunct instructors.” The agreement between the College and UNMC has been fruitful, Flesch says, benefiting all those involved. “It’s one of those good collaborative projects,” he says. “It allows instructors to get experience. We get some great adjuncts out of it and it allows students to get that undergrad research experience. It’s been a great program.” community • • 11

Switching Sw Switching S majors S w majors brings success, happiness A

f ter 20 years in the United States Air Force, Demetria Geralds retired after being based at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska.

During her time in the Air Force, Geralds worked in health and human services. She decided to continue her education in that area and enrolled at Metropolitan Community College. “I wanted to expand my knowledge,” she says. After some time in Health and Human Services classes, Geralds started to have a change of heart. After seeing her love of fashion and clothing, an instructor gave her the guidance she was looking for. “In Health and Human Services, an instructor approached me and said ‘You should be in the fashion program.’ That was an important turning point. I realized it was time for me to do what I loved,” she explains. Geralds had always been interested in clothing, fashion and sewing. Her grandmother was an avid quilter, her aunt was a dressmaker. In the Air Force, she tailored her own military uniform. She also made clothes for her dolls and her daughter’s Halloween costumes. Geralds made the switch to the College’s Fashion Design program. “What I’m learning is there are different elements and careers in fashion design,” she says. “It’s a really, really good program. You’re not just learning how to design clothes.” Since making the switch, Geralds has had great success in the program. Last summer, she entered her ready-to-wear and streetwear collection to Omaha Fashion Week in the emerging designer category. 12 • community •

majors witching Switching witching to fashion student “I went from sketches on a tablet to literally on the runway,” says Geralds. “Just to see it all play out was crazy.”

Her collection was chosen to show in the finale where she was awarded the Emerging Designer Award. She was even given a $500 prize from SAC Federal Credit Union. Geralds has put her prize money to good use. She used part of the winnings to start a scholarship for MCC’s Fashion Design program that helps students get the supplies they need. “What I saw was that a lot of students weren’t able to get supplies until well into the quarter. I wanted to offer that support,” explains Geralds. The other portion of the prize money is going toward a trip to New York City where Geralds will look into getting one of her garments produced in a larger quantity.

Photos courtesy of

“One of my dresses—I call it the ‘everybody dress’ because it looks good on everybody—garnered some interest. I did some research and found a manufacturer that is willing to do a short run to see how they’ll do on the market,” Geralds says.

“Every instructor who has stayed after class and spent time with me, I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to those folks,” she states. “The Veterans Services office has been a great support. It’s been a wealth of resources with great guidance.”

It’s been a whirlwind year of success for Geralds and she is so thankful for the opportunities MCC has brought to her.

Making the switch was a big decision that turned out to be the best thing, Geralds says, and others shouldn’t be afraid to do the same.

“My education opens doors,” she says. “At 52 years old, I was on a track that made sense for me or that I was supposed to be on. One day, I decided that I wanted to do what I wanted to do. My education put me on a path that I know for sure that’s where I’m supposed to be.” Caring instructors and MCC Veterans Services have been great support during Geralds’ educational journey at the College.

“People have to remember their dream,” she says. “I don’t think it’s ever too late.” To learn more about MCC’s Fashion Design program, visit Geralds is a veteran of the United States Air Force. community • • 13

Turning over a new leaf With care, holiday plants can thrive T

he holidays are now behind us and the décor has been put away. Poinsettias are among the plants that often dot holiday décor or are received as a gift. With a little care, these plants will continue to thrive throughout the year. Poinsettias are one of the most identifiable plants featured during the holiday season. Leading up to the holiday season, poinsettias feature dark green leaves rather than the trademark red leaves many associate with the plant. Although the red leaves of the plant are most commonly associated with the poinsettia,

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it is not uncommon to see color variations of orange, pale green, cream, pink, white or marbled. The red leaves of the poinsettia are a result of isolating the plant in 12 hours of absolute darkness each day for at least five days in a row. The plant also requires abundant light during the day to obtain the brightest shade of red. Prior to Thanksgiving, Metropolitan Community College Horticulture operations specialist Tyler Magnuson was caring for the poinsettias that would grace MCC campuses throughout December. On a tour of the greenhouse, the plants could be seen in a barrier of hay bales, which provided easy control of the sunlight and darkness they need.

It is commonly thought that poinsettias are poisonous. Magnuson weighed in, saying, “Poinsettias are poisonous but carry very small amounts of toxins. One study found that a small toddler would have to eat 500 leaves to get seriously

“ T h e r e d l e av e s in 12 hours of a r o w. D u r i n g during

be moved outdoors in June and placed in a shady location that will keep it from direct sunlight. With the return of the fall, the poinsettia should be brought inside. If you’d like to see a recurrence of the brilliant red leaves in time for the

o f t h e p o i n s e t t i a a r e a r e s u lt o f i s o l at i n g t h e p l a n t a b s o lu t e da r k n e s s e ac h day f o r at l e a s t f i v e day s i n t h i s p e r i o d , t h e p l a n t a l s o r e q u i r e s a b u n da n t l i g h t t h e day to o b ta i n t h e b r i g h t e s t s h a d e o f r e d.”

sick. So be mindful with little ones and pets, but don’t worry too much.”

holidays, you will need to begin a 12 hours of darkness and light cycle.

To keep your poinsettia healthy and thriving beyond the holiday season, proper lighting is key. Optimal sunlight exposure can be found when the plant is placed in front of an east or south facing window in the morning hours. Also, be sure to water only when the soil feels dry to touch, providing enough water to run through the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. In addition to adequate lighting and water, repotting the poinsettia in a slightly larger pot in the spring as well as feeding the plant with a balanced, all-purpose household plant fertilizer will help it flourish. The plant can

“The MCC Horticulture program keeps poinsettias and many more common houseplants in the greenhouse so that we may use them to teach students different ways to propagate and care for them,” Magnuson explains. “Many people enter the Horticulture program because they feel like they are ‘plant people’ and enjoy learning more about growing unique and diverse species.” To learn more about Horticulture program or for a tour of the greenhouse, visit

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A gourmet cla Sage Student Bistro helps students gain Café Metropol,” explains Brian O’Malley, Culinary Arts instructor. The Culinary Arts programs were relocated to the new ICA building when it opened. During the move, the program was restructured to include working at the bistro as a requirement, Walsh says. “We converted the curriculum to support this guest-centered idea,” he explains. “We put classes in place. It was kind of a class project at first to be open a few days a week. It became the focus of the class.”


tepping into Sage Student Bistro feels like entering an upscale restaurant. There are high ceilings, a fireplace, an expanse of large windows and a long bar with carafes of water, silverware and other dining necessities. But Sage Student Bistro isn’t just a restaurant. It’s a classroom first and foremost. The full-service restaurant inside Metropolitan Community College’s Institute for the Culinary Arts on the Fort Omaha Campus is an interactive learning space for students in the College’s various Culinary Arts programs. “It is a customer-focused classroom,” says Peter Walsh, service coordinator for the ICA. “It really is a classroom more than it is a restaurant.” MCC has a history of teaching through a live restaurant classroom. Before the ICA opened in 2009, a temporary restaurant was set-up in classrooms in Building 10 on the Fort Omaha Campus. At that time, the class was not a mandatory part of the program and was on a smaller scale than at the current bistro. “We started having a guest-centered component to the curriculum where guests ordered off the menu in 2002 called

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The Sage Student Bistro allows students from all of the College’s culinary programs to get involved and run the restaurant. Students are the chefs, line cooks and handle other kitchen duties. Baking and Pastry students create all the dessert offerings. Hospitality and Management students are the wait staff, cashiers and managers during both lunch and dinner services. “Having a fully functioning restaurant classroom is a very unique aspect of MCC’s Culinary Arts programs. It’s not often seen at community colleges,” O’Malley says. “It is rare amongst community colleges to have an open-to-the-public restaurant that operates at the tempo we do. It is absolutely the norm at high-end private schools.” While making it to the kitchen requires more experience and certain course completions, even students just starting out can become wait staff, Walsh explains. “I teach customer service. There is no prerequisite in that course. I have students in their first and second quarter and they do fine,” Walsh says. Each quarter, a mostly new lunch and dinner menu is created and students spend a few weeks preparing before Sage is open to the public. O’Malley says that the students don’t create

assroom: experience, skill in the kitchen the lunch recipes, but that they are based off components of the culinary curriculum. “While it’s not a student-generated menu, it’s generated so that what the student is doing is purposeful,” he says. “At lunch, each dish is specific to what they need to learn along their way.” For dinner, in addition to an à la carte menu, students get the opportunity to create prix fixe menus, a list of multi-dish, preset menus that are each inspired by a different global cuisine. Walsh says that prix fixe dinners are only offered near the end of a quarter, as students spend some time creating and perfecting the menus. The Sage Student Bistro is important for culinary students, as it gives them real experience of working in a restaurant. It shows students that time is a factor, as well as execution of a dish. O’Malley says that to have that real-life restaurant experience is necessary to their culinary education. “We see that we are preparing students for meeting external expectations,” O’Malley says. “To have a class where that isn’t baked into the fabric of their journey would be a disservice.” The bistro is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday during the quarter. Walsh says there are no weekend hours on purpose. “So many of our students work in the field and the busiest days for our industry are Friday-Sunday,” Walsh states. “We want to make sure people have a work-life balance so we aren’t excluding those out in the industry.”

To view a list of hours as well as a menu, visit community • • 17

Local manufacturer turns to MCC to fulfill workforce needs 18 • community •


orking with private industry is nothing new for Metropolitan Community College. The MCC expansion project completed last fall quarter is an example with advisory councils and industry input playing a large role in classroom curriculum and building development. The College is always cultivating community relationships and creating partnerships that make sense for students and the business community. A major industry that the College has many partnerships in is manufacturing. The relationships have been mutually beneficial, helping students earn jobs and businesses fill positions with skilled labor. One manufacturer is getting a little creative in filling their workforce needs. Gus G. Gubalke of QuadPackaging says that despite having nearly 100,000 workers in manufacturing in Nebraska, there’s still a great need for talent. “There isn’t a large pool of qualified applicants in the manufacturing industry. Although there are great opportunities to advance, there hasn’t been enough applicants to fill our needs. It’s a very common problem in our industry,” explains Gubalke, a department manager for production support. In data from 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis states there were more than 96,000 manufacturing employees in Nebraska, making up approximately 10 percent of the state’s workforce. These employees had an average annual compensation of $55,800 in 2014. QuadPackaging is an international company with plants located in Asia, Latin America, South Carolina, Wisconsin and near 120th and L streets in Omaha. The company manufactures packaging products and offers unique solutions to problems their customers face. QuadPackaging prides themselves on lean manufacturing, helping the company reduce waste and increase efficiency for their customers. Their processes require highly skilled workers. Workers who are capable of using the latest in manufacturing technology and implementing skills learned at places like MCC. “We hope to have apprentices that step into the field with a good knowledge of the skills needed. We know students come out of MCC trained and educated,” Gubalke states. “We need employees who are highly skilled both electronically and mechanically.” MCC offers a variety of programs to prepare students for a career in manufacturing. Precision Machine Technology, Welding Technology, Process Operations Technology and Industrial and Commercial Trades are some of the programs at the College that provide two-year degree and certificate options for students with interest in the manufacturing industry.

Companies like QuadPackaging will soon have even more of a reason to partner with the College. The 30,000-square-foot renovation project proposed for MCC’s Industrial Training Center, creating the new Center for Advanced Manufacturing, will build current degree options while creating others in advanced manufacturing and robotics. Industry partners already involved in the planning process of the project include Drake-Williams Steel, Lozier, Valmont Industries and others. Construction on the renovation could begin around late summer, with completion sometime in 2019. It was the College’s track record of successful industry collaborations, however, that led Gubalke to pursue a partnership. “MCC came with high recommendations from the Nebraska Department of Labor. The College offers courses that fit the skills needed in our production,” says Gubalke.

“MCC came with high recommendations from the Nebraska Department of Labor.” Gus G. Gubalke, department manager for production support at QuadPackaging Gubalke’s company will pay for an employee’s course credits at MCC, an initiative he hopes will increase his pool of qualified candidates for positions of need. The concept is that QuadPackaging employees will pursue the free training and education and take it back to the company and use skills learned at MCC in their current position or set themselves up for advancement when others retire. With his employees beginning at MCC this winter quarter, he believes he’ll start to see the fruits of the investment soon. “This is a great opportunity. Our partnership with MCC is what I would consider a recipe for success,” says Gubalke. For more information about MCC’s manufacturing programs, visit and navigate the page for manufacturing-based programs.

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African art comes to the Career and Academic Skills Center


he Career and Academic Skills Center is the new home for dozens of African art pieces thanks to a generous donation from Nebraska native, Dr. Natalie Hahn. Hahn, who has spent time traversing the globe while working with the United Nations, collected the art during her travels in parts of Africa. The generosity behind the donation is displayed in the mission of the nonprofit she started. The Malaika Foundation was founded by Hahn in 1997 and has the goal of enhancing global education in Nebraska schools and communities, giving residents a greater understanding of cultures from around the world. “It is an honor to contribute African art to Metropolitan Community College. The decision was made on my impressions of superb staff and faculty—a combination of fine intellect, determination and commitment in designing great careers for the students,” says Dr. Hahn. “I am thrilled the I art collected for many years while working with the United Nations in Africa has found the ‘perfect home.’” MCC students now have the opportunity to see these unique pieces throughout CASC’s three floors. Students can gain insight into African culture by browsing the many works of art.

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There are more than 50 pieces of art from Africa in the Career and Academic Skills Center. community • • 21

Location spotlight:

Fremont Area Center L ocated in a former junior high school, Metropolitan Community College’s Fremont Area Center is Dodge County’s home for specialized postsecondary education. Having opened in 2007, the Fremont Area Center boasts computer labs, 11 classrooms, student services and a modern nursing lab. Located at 835 N. Broad St., the location is also home to a database center that helps students within Information Technology programs learn skills that can directly translate to a high-demand career.

“We offer a wide array of general education courses and career academies 22 • community •

for high school students,” says Todd Hansen, executive director of the Fremont Area Center. “We’re also proud to offer programs here that are in high-demand with Information Technology, Paramedicine and Nursing courses.”

“We offer a wide array of general education courses and career academies for high school students.” Fremont high school students have the option of enrolling in the IT Academy and Introduction to Healthcare Careers at MCC’s location. Additionally, high school students can take advantage of

the Welding and Diesel Technology academies offsite.

The location also offers a wealth of noncredit classes each quarter. Area residents can register for courses focusing on exercise and wellness, professional development, dog training, arts and crafts, dancing and more. The Fremont Area Center is also part of MCC Rideshare, a program where MCC students can find a carpooling partner.

Want to register for a course at the Fremont Area Center? Visit



Interior Design program

gives students eye for style, taste in homes T

here is something about an immaculately decorated home. When people enter the home, they may gasp, ooh and aww at the furnishings, art and other décor. While many people decorate their own homes, some seek help to make everything look impeccable. This is where an interior designer comes in. Interior designers have an eye for what is timeless and beautiful to furnish a home. Those looking to become interior designers can start with the program at Metropolitan Community College. The program, taught primarily at the Elkhorn Valley Campus by Nanci Stephenson, educates students on interior design from all angles. They learn the history of interior elements such as architecture and furniture. These classes teach students what features to look for in different furniture and house styles. Students also learn about kitchen, bath and other residential design, focusing on space planning, fixtures, lighting and materials used in each kind of space. They are also taught color theory, room rendering and more. Near the end of the program, students must complete a capstone project, a course that shows what students learned in Interior Design. The course emphasizes skill development, professional behavior and creating a presentation-ready portfolio.

After finishing 30 credit hours, MCC students must complete an internship where they learn firsthand the different jobs and duties in the interior design world. This curriculum also helps students gain knowledge about product, how businesses operate and how to work with others in the industry. Those who graduate from MCC with an Associate in Applied Science in Interior Design have multiple options. They can continue to a four-year institution to earn a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design. If they are ready to enter the workforce, they can seek employment as interior design assistants, product retailers, supply dealers and more. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the interior design job pool is projected to grow now through 2024 by four percent, making it a viable career field.

To learn more about the Interior Design program at MCC, visit

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the college

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated with shows, artistry

Hackathon event benefits kids aging out of foster care

Metropolitan Community College was the site for a variety of activities celebrating and shining a light on Hispanic culture and heritage from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. This year’s national theme was “Shaping the Bright Future.” One of the highlights from the month-long celebration was the famed Hispanic Flamenco Ballet’s visit to the South Omaha Campus, where more than 300 Spanish language students and teachers from area high schools witnessed dancing, narration and music from the Miami-based group that excels at cultural education.

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s Youth Hackathon-Building the Future: Nebraska event was held at Metropolitan Community College’s Center for Advanced and Emerging Technology. For a 24-hour period, coders, hackers and web developers collaborated to come up with solutions to problems faced in the foster care system.

“We are thankful to the many who attend programs with their students, enhancing themes taught in the classroom with information presented through lectures, panels, films, artistic presentations and group discussions,” says Barbara Velazquez, coordinator of International and Intercultural Education. The events were funded in part by the Nebraska Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. 24 • community •

Hackathons are typically multi-day events where groups of individuals engage in collaborative computer programming. The event was also in coordination with Think of Us, a national nonprofit that aims to help foster children transitioning into adulthood. “With the help of those involved in the hackathon, the platforms created will save case workers time, increase efficiency, increase compliance rates, provide additional reporting tools, provide business intelligence about workers, give youth additional resources and result in better outcomes for youth in Nebraska,” says Sara Riffel, associate vice president at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation.

MCC student receives car after donation, body repairs Metropolitan Community College Diesel Technology student Damingo Burks was awarded a used 2010 Dodge Avenger at the Applied Technology Center during a recent Auto Collision program open house. The car presentation was made possible by a collaboration between the public and private sectors. Farmers Insurance donated the salvage car to be used in the Recycled Rides™ for Schools program. Repairs were then made by MCC Auto Collision students as part of their curriculum. After repairs, the MCC Foundation worked to identify a deserving recipient through a selection committee comprised of the key players involved in the donation and refurbishment of the car. The internal review process examined the students’ needs and selected Burks because of his story. A resident of Council Bluffs, Iowa, Burks had to rely on public transportation to get to and from class. The closest bus stop to ATC is nearly three miles away, making getting to and from class difficult. Margaret Keith of CARSTAR Auto Body was on the selection committee that selected Burks. She says it wasn’t an easy choice. “I told my peers to get their tissues ready because it wasn’t going to be easy selecting a single student from a lot of very deserving ones,” says Keith. “I wish we could have given them all a reliable car for transportation to and from class.”  Local businesses and entities who provided donations of parts and services were: LKQ, Keystone, Safelite AutoGlass, NTTR Towing, Charlie Graham Body and Service, CARSTAR Auto Body, Enterprise Holdings Foundation, Charity Cars, MCC Foundation and the National Auto Body Council.

Omaha Hospitality Hall of Fame welcomes six new inductees The 25th annual Omaha Hospitality Hall of Fame Celebration dinner and ceremony inducted six new members into the Omaha Restaurant Association’s Omaha Hospitality Hall of Fame while serving as a benefit for Metropolitan Community College hospitality and culinary education students. The Omaha Hospitality Hall of Fame was created to recognize achievement and significant contributions in the industry. This year’s inductees were: Hap Abraham, Abraham Catering Service; Claude Hampton Jr., Absolutely Fresh Seafood Company; Haukur “Jim” Olafsson, H. Olafsson International Specialty Foods; Gary Rohwer, Heartland Beef Processing Co., PepperJax Grill and Glenn Valley Foods; and Jan and Les Schneiderman, KB Foods. The annual event recognizes industry professionals while providing an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to design, prepare and present the meal. Event proceeds provide scholarships for MCC students pursuing their educational dreams. community • • 25

Metropolitan Community College P.O. Box 3777 Omaha, NE 68103-0777

Stay informed. Connect with your community. @mccneb

MCC Community Magazine Winter 2017-18  
MCC Community Magazine Winter 2017-18