Alumni & Friends Magazine Volume 3 | Summer 2017

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Volume 3 | Summer 2017

GREETINGS PRESIDENT’S GREETING Greetings Alumni of Mid-Plains Community College, I hope this Alumni Newsletter finds you well. Many great things are happening at the MidPlains Community College (MPCC) campuses. On October 26, 2016, the Board of Governors approved a new mission statement that reads, “Transforming lives through exceptional learning opportunities for individual student success.” At the center of this mission is our commitment to the students and communities we serve. We continue to seek ways to provide new opportunities and to reach more of our residents, businesses, and industries. This summer, the Board will approve a new Facilities Master Plan (FMP) and Academic Master Plan (AMP). The FMP will layout the facilities needs for the next 10-15 years. The AMP will focus on improving current programs and give consideration to new or expanded programs. On July 26th, we will cut the ribbon on the new Valentine Campus. This project would not have been possible without the generosity of Valentine area residents and several private foundations invested in the success of rural communities. I want to thank you for choosing one of the MPCC campuses as part of your educational journey and for your continued support. For more information, please visit us at

Ryan Purdy, President

VICE-PRESIDENTS’ GREETINGS Dear MCC Alumni and Friends, We recently held commencement in the Peter and Dolores Graff Event Center finishing our 90th academic year as Nebraska’s oldest two-year college. It was a wonderful day celebrating with the students we’ve had for the last two years. Also, we’ve had alumni groups return to McCook from the 1960s and 1970s and have a planned alumni volleyball group coming to campus in the fall. What brings people back to this college in Southwest Nebraska? It is the people they worked with while here. Whether it was E.P. Baruth, Gwen McKenzie, Dick Driml, or Jim Hall, the combination of great faculty, staff, and students provide an amazing educational experience. With the recent donation of the former Elks Building, we’ll begin our next 90 years looking to expand what we offer and how many students we serve. You are sure to hear more, but it will take the support from the entire tribe to keep us moving forward. Andy Long, Area Vice President for Student Affairs and MCC Dear NPCC Alumni and Friends, This past May marked 20 years since I became an official alumnus of a community college. I look back on my education at the community college and am still thankful for that experience. As a shy, graduate from a small, rural high school, I didn’t want to stray too far from home, so I chose to attend my local community college. That choice changed my life forever. I found teachers who believed in me, encouraged me, and pushed me to learn skills to become employable. I found confidence and came out of my shell. That same community college hired me before I graduated which began my career in higher education. As an alumnus of North Platte Community College, I hope you look back with fond memories and find that your life was impacted in a positive way. Think back to those faculty who pushed and challenged you to learn, or to coaches or staff members who impacted your experience at NPCC. We would love to hear your stories and how the college has impacted you! Thank you for being a proud alumnus of NPCC and Go Knights! Dr. Jody Tomanek, Area Vice President for Academic Affairs and NPCC

INSTITUTIONAL ADVANCEMENT ADVANCING MID-PLAINS COMMUNITY COLLEGE Alumni and Friends, Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Bonnie Kruse and I am pleased and honored to serve as the Area Director of Institutional Advancement for Mid-Plains Community College. This year, Mid-Plains Community College graduated 427 students – and your generous gifts of time, ideas, and financial support have made an enormous contribution to their success. On behalf of the students, faculty, and staff at our six campus locations in North Platte, McCook, Ogallala, Imperial, Valentine, and Broken Bow, thank you. As Mid-Plains continues to actively contribute to the development of each individual who attends our institution, the College becomes a larger player in the growth of the communities we serve. Your active engagement with Mid-Plains makes an enormous difference in the lives of our many determined and optimistic students. I sincerely appreciate everything you do for Mid-Plains: your financial support, your personal stories and updates, your comments, your input, and your great commitment to our college. Exciting things are happening at Mid-Plains Community College! The MPCC administration just finished the College’s Academic and Facility Master Plans which provide a bold vision for taking Mid-Plains Community College to greater levels of success. At the heart of it all is a commitment to students first. An investment in Mid-Plains Community College, whether it’s for student scholarships, academic program support, athletics, or facilities, will ensure that MidPlains honors its commitment to providing the highest quality education to the many students and communities it serves. There are numerous ways to support Mid-Plains Community College. I personally invite you to drop us a line, send an e-mail, or give us a call. I welcome the opportunity to talk with you about how your investment will ensure a brighter future for our great institution and the students we serve. With gratitude,

Bonnie Kruse, Area Director of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director, NPCC Foundation


Scholarships - Support Students

Capital Improvements - Support Facilities

Annual Fund - Best Use of funds to support the work of the foundation

Or contact us about a naming opportunity or other type of gift

INVEST IN MPCC TODAY! Contribute to the McCook College Foundation, contact Janet Werkmeister | Director of Administration PO Box 195 McCook, NE 69001 | (308) 345-5233 Contribute to the North Platte College Foundation, contact Bonnie Kruse | Director of Institutional Advancement 601 W State Farm Road, North Platte NE 69101 | (308) 535-3754


NO JOURNEY’S TOO LONG WHEN IT COMES TO EDUCATION How far would you commute for an education? By the time the current school year is over, Kent Silvester, 66, and LeRoy Musick, 76, will have driven approximately 16,000 miles. The Imperial men are enrolled in MPCC’s Classic Car Restoration Program at Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte. While the route is 100 miles - one way, they make the drive five days a week.

OTLIGHT P S I N ALUM Ask Todd Bissell how he got into heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration and he’ll likely respond with a laugh. Bissell, who owns AJ Heating, Air Conditioning, and Sheet Metal, in North Platte and who retired in January, made a successful career out of HVAC-R, but it wasn’t his first choice. Todd wanted to be an anesthetist but paused at the number of years it would take. Bissell began taking HVAC-R classes through the Mid-Plains Vocational Technical College, on what is currently North Platte Community College’s North Campus. Through his studies, Bissell realized he really enjoyed HVAC-R and decided to apply for Thermo King transport refrigeration school. “Mid-Plains said it would give me credit for the rest of the semester if I passed the Thermo King course. Just like that, I was on a career path for refrigeration,” said Bissell.

‘DO I BUY A NEW RECLINER, OR DO I GET OUT AND DO SOMETHING? “It’s about an hour and 35 minutes unless we have to stop for a train or slow down for deer,” said Musick. “Because we’re on Mountain Time and the college is on Central Time, we have to leave Imperial around 5 a.m.” “The Auto Body program is a lot of fun, which is what we’re taking it for,” said Silvester. “It’s common to reach a crossroads after retirement, and start to wonder, ‘Do I buy a new recliner, or do I get out and do something? This program has really helped me keep active.”


As part of the training, Bissell was required to work for the local Thermo King dealer back in North Platte. That led to sales positions for other companies and ultimately a conversation with Al Dowhower who owned AJ Sheet Metal in North Platte. An offer was made to purchase the one-man shop and the rest is history. Today, the business employs 50 people and has a 150mile service area. Building up to that took hard work, perseverance and a willingness to change with the times, all of which Bissell believes are crucial to the line of work he’s in. Todd is a huge advocate for MPCC’s HVAC program and its graduates because of the rapid changes occuring in technology. That evolution is part of why he believes there is and will continue to be a huge demand for skilled HVAC-R technicians into the unforeseeable future. “It’s been that way since I started in the business,” said Bissell. “It’s hard to find someone with HVAC-R experience. It’s also hard to find an employer willing to train somebody because as soon as they do, that employee leaves. It’s a lot quicker for job applicants to get the training they need through a school, which also makes them more marketable.”

Roger Fattig, building construction instructor at North Platte Community College, congratulates Al Fugate for being the new owner of the 2017 NPCC Foundation Auction House. Fugate placed the winning bid for the home on Friday afternoon. Al Fugate, of North Platte, is the new owner of the 2017 North Platte Community College Foundation Auction House. He submitted a winning bid of $131,501. The annual auction concluded May 5th. Proceeds from the sale will go toward scholarships for students in the college’s Building Construction, Electrical and Heating Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC-R) Technology programs who built the house – an ongoing tradition since 1971.

BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY MCC PBL TEAMS BRINGS HOME ELEVEN TOP 3 AWARDS McCook Community College’s Phi Beta Lambda team competed recently in the state leadership competition in Kearney and brought home four first place awards, three second place, four third place awards and several other top 10 place awards. “We were incredibly honored at the end of our conference to have two of our members elected to Nebraska state officer positions,” said PBL co-sponsor Lorrie Mowry, who was named Nebraska State Advisor of the Year. Brad Wessels was elected the Nebraska State Vice President of Public Relations and Taylor Stettner elected the Nebraska Vice President of Membership. Bailey Kool was named Who’s Who in Nebraska PBL. Jeff Wessels was recognized as Business Person of the Year, and the MCC chapter received several awards including: Non Stop November; Diamond Chapter Award; GOLD Level Excellence Award; and second largest two-year membership in the state. Here is a listing of the team and individual competitive event winners. The top two placers in each category qualify for PBL nationals in Anaheim in June. Other top finishers may qualify as well: Emily Karr took first place in Computer Animation and first place in Desktop Publishing.

Rebecca Lorens and Jessica Premer teamed up to place second in Computer Animation; Angelica Evans teamed with Jessica Premer to place second in Desktop Publishing. Ashley Laurie placed third in Computer Animation and teamed up with Rebecca Lorens to place third in Desktop Publishing.

Holly Myers captured first place in Impromptu Speaking; and also third place in Public Speaking.

Charmane Macomber placed third in Business Communications; Shania Macomber placed seventh in Business Communications.

Bailey Kool teamed up with Taylor Stettner to place first in Hospitality Management. Baily placed second in Help Desk and Taylor placed seventh in Business Law.

MCC’s parliamentary procedure team placed fourth. The team consisted of Brad Wessels, Taylor Stettner, Bailey Kool, Shania Macomber, and Holly Myers. Director’s Level Career Membership Achievement Program: Bailey Kool, Shania Macomber, and Taylor Stettner. Hannah Hanke placed sixth in Business Law, seventh in Accounting Analysis & Decision; and seventh in Cost Accounting.

Ward, president of NPCC’s PBL chapter, qualified for nationals for the second year in a row. She placed second in Computer Applications and was fourth in both Business Communications and in Accounting Analysis and Decision Making. She finished sixth in Cost Accounting and in Accounting for Professionals.

NPCC PBL CHAPTER WINS STATE AWARDS The North Platte Community College chapter of Phi Beta Lambda won 11 awards during the 2017 State Leadership Conference in Kearney. PBL members Kandace Ward, Susan Marquez and Rebecca Chessmore, all of North Platte, had their business knowledge and skills tested in a variety of subject areas. They were up against other students from both two-year and four-year colleges across the state.

Marquez, NPCC’s PBL treasurer, received the “Who’s Who in Nebraska” award, recognizing her distinguished service to the organization. She placed seventh in Administrative Technology and in Personal Finance and earned eighth in Desktop Publishing. Chessmore, NPCC’s PBL reporter, took home fifth place in Marketing Concepts and was sixth in both Justice Administration and Business Communications. “I’m very proud of our students and how they did, especially considering the level of competition they were up against,” said Cathy Nutt, co-sponsor of NPCC’s PBL chapter. “They are the perfect example of the caliber of students we have at North Platte Community College.” The 2017 PBL National Leadership Conference will be June 2427 in Anaheim, Calif.

HEALTH OCCUPATIONS HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR CLIMBS TO THE TOP WITH HELP OF MLT PROGRAM Danni Franzen was going to get out of town. “My former classmates still tease me about that when I go to high school reunions,” said Franzen. “I was so determined to leave, and 25 years later, I’m still here.” That’s because the North Platte native stumbled across something countless others have also found that it is possible to be successful, and happy, in rural Nebraska. Franzen is the senior director of Ancillary Services at Great Plains Health (GPH) in North Platte. Her responsibilities include ensuring the clinical and operational success of the laboratory, rehab services, home health and hospice, cardiopulmonary services, clinical nutrition and pharmacy.


FIREFIGHTERS: A SPECIAL BREED They’re the unsung heroes, the ones who risk their lives every day - often to save someone else. Driven by an inner call and fueled by adrenaline, firefighters help out in the darkest moments – simply because they can. “I eat, breathe and sleep fire science – sometimes to a fault,” said Zehnder. “I grew up watching my dad run out the door to fight fires, and I never wanted to do anything else. Helping people is just the right thing to do. Being able to take someone’s worst day and make it a little bit better is pretty rewarding.” That being said, Zehnder is also the first to admit that the profession

It’s a rewarding profession, but wasn’t her original plan. In fact, following her graduation from North Platte High School in 1991 and as an attempt to save her parents some money, Franzen enrolled at Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte. Her plan was to complete a degree At MPCC then transfer to Missouri and become an Occupational Therapist. That wasn’t to work out. At the urging of her father-in-law, Franzen decided to see what else MPCC had to offer. She took a test to determine what classes might align with her interests and subsequently signed up for the Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) Program. Franzen graduated from MPCC in 1994 and picked up two MLT jobs-the first required a commute to Ogallala Community Hospital to work 10-hour shifts. Then on off days, she worked a night shift at GPH in North Platte. It was during that time that the hospital’s former lab director, Laurie Ryan, encouraged Franzen to pursue a bachelor’s degree. She did her coursework over on-line program through Weber State while working 60 hours per week at GPH--her regular hours “on the clock” and the balance as was required for her clinical requirements, “off the clock.” But the commitment paid off and in 2011 she was promoted to laboratory director at GPH. In 2016, Danni completed her master’s degree in business administration and today she is the senior director of Ancillary Services. “When I stop and look back at how far I’ve come - it’s crazy,” said Franzen. “I never dreamed I would be here. It’s kind of surreal. I just do the best I can in whatever position I’m in.” She believes the MLT profession provided a great starting point with numerous opportunities for advancement. Soil testing, veterinary lab testing, lab equipment marketing and repair, consulting, and forensic science were just a handful of careers she could have chosen. The opportunities Franzen was presented with just happened to lead her to hospital administration. “The MLT profession is great for those who like to tinker and those who are detail-oriented,” said Franzen. “If you want to travel the world, you can do that, and if you like to stay on the cutting edge of technology, then the lab profession is definitely where you need to be.”

isn’t as fun and glamorous as it often seems on TV. MPCC’s Fire Science Technology program is a two-year course. Through it, students learn everything from the basics of firefighting to apparatus operation, fire investigation, prevention, safety, survival and even some administrative skills.

“I EAT, BREATHE AND SLEEP FIRE SCIENCE...” “This program has a real homey atmosphere to it,” said Zehnder. “I think that’s important because it allows the instructors to get to know each student. If a student is struggling with something, we can see it and help out. Having that bond with the students also makes them feel like they can come talk to us and ask for help on their own if they need to.”

HUMANITIES & SOCIAL SCIENCES ART TEACHER HONORED FOR 30 YEARS OF SERVICE TO MPCC In 1979 Steve Clapp got a call to see if he’d be interested in teaching a pottery class at McCook Community College. Thirty-seven years later, he was honored by the college for his commitment. Technically, since ceramic and sculpture classes were not offered every semester, Clapp was recognized for 30 years of service to Mid-Plains Community College. “The college offers courses at all times and days during the semester, and to make a lot of that happen, we rely on adjunct faculty to teach a number of classes for us,” said Dr. Jody Tomanek, area vice-president of academic affairs and North Platte Community College. “Without them, we would have a difficult time offering the variety of classes that we do.” For Clapp, that means Mondays are long days. Until his retirement from McCook High School after the 2014-15 school year his days were filled with high school art students and his nights filled with college students. “Steve’s commitment as an adjunct faculty helps me cover the demand for classes, and I can rely on him to address certain elements that are essential and carry over to my other classes,” said MCC art instructor Rick Johnson. Despite the sometimes long hours, Clapp admits he’s enjoyed his time teaching at MCC. “It’s a nice break working with different age groups of students from the 19-20 age-level, to a mixture of individuals up to retirement age.” Clapp said. “They’ve brought a lot of diversity into the classroom and a lot of unique ideas and perspectives. We do a lot of learning from each other.”

PODCASTS: CHANGING THE WAY STUDENTS LEARN Is listening to a podcast just as effective as reading from a book? English instructors at North Platte Community College believe it can be – depending on the situation. Jessie Allen, Jami Allen and Kristi Leibhart have all incorporated podcasts into their classrooms, and so far, it’s paid off. “I’ve noticed that my students are more engaged,” said Jami. “They become intrigued by what I’m trying to teach because they’re being exposed to something new and different.” Jessie and Leibhart have noticed similar reactions. “Most of my incoming students aren’t familiar with audio stories such as, ‘This American Life’ and ‘RadioLab,’ and are surprised to learn that they exist,” Jessie said. “Once I play some, they think, ‘Wow. That’s really cool’.” Jessie has incorporated audio stories into her classes for over a decade, ever since she began listening to those released by National Public Radio.

It’s something she believes in so strongly, that she recently conducted an extensive study on the subject and compiled her research into a dissertation, “Teaching with Narrative Nonfiction Podcasts.” Jessie coined the term, “narrative nonfiction podcast,” in her dissertation to describe any podcast that features true stories told in artful, literary ways. That does not include a basic rundown of news headlines, talk shows, “how-to” programs, advice columns or comedy shows, but rather longer, indepth stories, often with a personal aspect to them. She predicts that podcasts, as educators know them now, are only the beginning. “Right now, fiction podcasts are in their infancy,” Jessie said. “There aren’t a lot of good ones yet, but there will be. I really do think podcasts will be a genre of literature in the future. They’re easy, they’re portable and I don’t see any end to them in sight.”

SOUPER BOWL COOK-OFF The North Platte Community College Student Senate sponsors the annual Souper Bowl Cook-Off every year to raise money for local charities. Past charities have included the Prairie Arts Center, PAWS-itive Partners Humane Society and many others. This year, proceeds benefited the newly established Samson Charles Scholarship Fund. Charles, a Tanzania native and former NPCC student, died in a kayaking accident July 11, 2016. “Most of our Student Senate members are sophomores who knew Samson,” said Chase Grabau, NPCC assistant director of student activities. “They wanted to remember him in a way that would carry on, so they came up with the idea of a scholarship fund.”

MATHEMATICS & SCIENCE GEOGRAPHY CLASS ADDRESSES FRACKING Does fracking cause earthquakes? It’s something students at North Platte Community College investigate in Carla Long’s classroom.

They use syringes to inject a water solution into containers full of soils and sediments, representing layers of the Earth’s crust.

Long, who teaches geography at NPCC, anticipates fracking will continue to be a hot topic into the foreseeable future.

The trick will be to not break the layers of crust while figuring out a way

“IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW HOW THE EARTH IS STRUCTURED AND HOW TO TAKE CARE OF IT BECAUSE IT INFLUENCES OUR LIVES, AND OUR LIVES INFLUENCE IT.” “The controversy is definitely something we talk about in class,” said Long. “No matter what side they choose to be on, it’s important for students to know what the issue is so that they can make educated decisions.” Merriam-Webster defines fracking as a method for getting oil and gas from underground rocks by injecting liquid into the rocks so that they break apart. Students in Long’s class try to replicate the process in a hands-on lab activity.

to get mineral oil in the bottom of the container to rise to the top for extraction. “While doing the activity, we talk about the evidence both for and against human interference increasing the incidence of earthquakes,” said Long. “It’s important to know how the Earth is structured and how to take care of it because it influences our lives, and our lives influence it.”



As an engineer and draftsman for Bloedorn Lumber in North Platte, Todd Roe helps people build their dream homes. He’s essentially a “utility player” in the world of building construction, doing everything from designing blueprints and providing site estimates to consulting and troubleshooting.

It’s a rewarding job - one that pays well and allows him to put both his creative and analytical skills to good use. Getting there wasn’t easy, however. It took hard work, perseverance and the ability to recognize opportunities. “If it wouldn’t have been for Mid-Plains, I don’t know if I would have finished school,” Roe said. “My start at MPCC

gave me the tools I needed to get to where I am today.” Roe graduated from Brady High School in 1999 with intentions of going into the medical field. “I grew up either chasing cows or swinging a hammer,” said Roe. “But, I was really good at math and science and loved to read, which was why I was thinking about pre-med.” He enrolled at Mid-Plains because he had a two-year, full-tuition scholarship from the MPCC Board of Governors and because of the small class sizes the college offered. “I was an introvert and came from small town Nebraska where everybody knew my name, and my parents’ names and everyone else in my family,” said Roe. “If I would have gone straight to a four-year college or university from that atmosphere, I think I would have been lost. People like me fit in perfectly at Mid-Plains.”


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Move over anglers, there’s a new kid in town. Mid-Plains Community College has launched a new fishing club, and members are wasting no time preparing for the competitive circuit. “This whole thing started because we have a lot of students who fish after class,” said Paul Knopick, MPCC area enrollment coach and fishing club sponsor. “It’s a great way for them to get together and build relationships.” Two of the students, Kylan Rhodes and Grant Pavelka, both of North Platte, have been fishing competitively since they were in high school. Rhodes won the state championship his sophomore year of high school, and Pavelka won as a junior and again as a senior. Rhodes said he’s excited about MPCC’s fishing club because it will allow him to meet people with similar interests. “What I like about it is that you don’t have to be athletic to join,” said Pavelka. “You also don’t have to have any previous fishing experience to join. We all learn from each other. Teaching

people how to fish is almost as rewarding as catching a fish yourself.” The MPCC Fishing Club is area-wide, meaning it’s open to any MPCC student within the college’s 18-county service area.

BROKEN BOW STUDENT TAKES ADVANTAGE OF DUAL-CREDIT OPTION start on their college education. Broken Bow High School has partnered with Mid-Plains Community College – Broken Bow Campus to provide a number of dual-credit classes to their students, and High School/Middle School Principal Rusty Kluender says that is a program the school would like to not only see continue, but grow.


High school students today seem to be under even more pressure than previous generations to pursue a secondary education. According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released in April, nearly 70 percent of 2015 high school graduates were enrolled in a college or university. With the demand for a higher education, and the rising cost of attaining that education, many students are looking for alternatives and ways to cut those costs. Many high schools now offer an opportunity for students to take dualcredit classes which gives them a jump

Samantha Hunstad, who goes by Samy, is beginning her senior year at Broken Bow High School and is one of the school’s many students enrolled in dual-credit classes. Last year she took a college algebra class, and this year she is taking statistics and music appreciation. Hunstad says she first heard about dual-credit courses last year in her precalculus class. “Our teacher was talking about it and kind of encouraged us to think about doing that. A lot of kids here are taking not just one, but two or three classes. It’s huge in our school,” says Hunstad. Hunstad is a very busy, active teenager who is also very driven. “I’ve got my whole future planned out,” she laughs when asked if she knows yet what she

OGALLALA CAMPUS RECOGNIZES OGALLALA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE CREDIT Every high school graduate who has successfully completed 12 or more credit hours through Mid-Plains Community College will receive a blue and gold honor cord as well as a personalized certificate. This year, that amounts to a total of 227 students. Mary Pierce, the MPCC Ogallala Campus coordinator, began delivering cords in person. She recently presented seven to Paxton High School students. She also awarded several cords to students in Hyannis in the morning and gave out another 28 to Ogallala High School students during the school’s Academic Awards Night later that evening. “It is a great achievement these students have made, and they deserve recognition,” Pierce said. She said many of the students she met earned more than the 12 credit hours required to receive a cord. “In Ogallala alone, we have 10 students who have completed 24 or more credits, which is the equivalent of a full year of college,” said Pierce. “Those students worked hard, and the payoff will be great.”

is going to do after high school. “I’ve had it planned for a long time, and I am so ready!” Though she says she is eager to finish high school and move to the next phase of her life, Hunstad is also enjoying her senior year and getting involved with as much as she can while keeping up with her school work. She participates in band, choir, jazz band, women’s ensemble, National Honor Society, Tri-M, student council. One Act Play and speech. She is also a member of the HEROS, a mentoring program where high school students are partnered with elementary students, and Youth Leadership Custer County, a program through Mid-Plains Community College. Hunstad says taking dual-credit classes in high school just makes sense. “It’s a lot cheaper taking the classes through the school and it’s a really good way to get a head start. By the time I graduate I plan to have a semester of college credits already done.”

CAMPUS NEWS IMPERIAL CAMPUS: BRIDGING A COMMUNICATION GAP The Mid-Plains Community College Imperial Campus has been meeting the educational needs in Southwestern Nebraska and Northeastern Colorado since 2003. Now it’s becoming known for another reason – successfully breaking down language barriers. “Our English as a Second Language class is proving to be extremely popular,” said Brenda Ledall, campus coordinator. “It’s opening up a whole world of possibilities.” As of the 2010 Census, Imperial’s population was 2,071 and about 15 percent was Hispanic or Latino. In the community’s public schools, which pull students from throughout the county, the percentage is even higher – around 34 percent.

“THE ESL CLASSES ARE A GIFT OUR STUDENTS GIVE TO THEMSELVES” Jason Tuller, community development director for the City of Imperial, said much of the Hispanic and Latino

population moved in to work seasonal jobs, such as planting and harvesting potatoes, or to work in feedlots, dairy farms and hog farms. Once those immigrants put down roots, they stayed. “There are actually two groups,” said Tuller. “There’s the group that’s lived here for years, then there’s those moving in now. I think because we have a base of Spanish-speaking residents already, it makes the community more appealing to others who speak Spanish.” The challenge for the newcomers is that they are moving into a region where English is the primary language. The ESL classes are an effort to help the immigrants not only adapt to their new home, but also improve their lives. It seems to be working. The ESL classes are open to all levels of English-speaking students. The only



requirement is that they be at least 18 and not in the public school system. Enrollment is open year-round, and classes are offered in three-hour sessions multiple times of the week. There’s typically fewer than 10 students in each session, which allows for one-on-one instruction. “The ESL classes are a gift our students give to themselves,” said Vargas. “It’s personal time, a learning opportunity and a quality of growth subsequently reflected in our community.”





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The North Platte Community College Lady Knights basketball coach Richard Thurin announced his retirement, following the 2016-17 basketball season. Coach Thurin has been coaching the Lady Knights since the 2001-02 season. Entering into the 2016-17 season, Thurin has a record of 206 wins and 236 losses. Coach Thurin has led the Lady Knights to four Region IX Division II Championships and two NJCAA Division II National Tournament appearances in his career. The Lady Knights won the Region IX Division II Championship in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. Coach Thurin has taken the Lady Knights to two NJCAA Division II National Tournaments by winning District F in 2011 and 2013. Before coming to Community College,

North Coach

Platte Thurin

started the girls’ basketball program at Grant High School. Coach Thurin compiled a 304-100 career coaching record at Grant while winning 12 district titles and making 12 state tournament appearances including a state runnerup finish in 1985. During the second annual North Platte Community College athletic banquet, Coach Thurin introduced the members of the team this past season. Jessica Lovitt, Thomesha Wilson and Allison Tichy were recognized for their postseason athletic awards. All three of them were named to the All-NCCAC, All-Region IX Division II and All Region IX Division II Tournament teams. After recognizing the academic achievements of various players, Thurin thanked all those who supported him throughout his 16 years at NPCC and his 51 total years in the coaching field. As Thurin left the podium, the crowd gave him a standing ovation for his service to the college.


Brehanna was among nine former college student-athletes selected last year to participate in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D) Crew Member Development Program, and worked as a tire changer in her very first race this year at Nashville on April 8. Daniels played only one season, 2012-2013, at MCC before returning to her home state of Virginia and playing for Norfolk State. As an intern in the athletic department she was recording and editing video footage for the university's spring sports teams. According to a March interview in ESPNw magazine, Daniels told interviewer Deb Williams the finalists received an apartment, living expenses and a stipend for six months provided by Rev Racing. She started the intense training sessions

in September which included building upper-body strength.

Xcalibur. She aspires to become an actress.

For Daniels, her task is measured in fractions of seconds. Her training focuses on removing five lug nuts with her impact wrench, removing the 75-pound right rear wheel, wait for the tire carrier to put on the new tire, quickly tighten the five lug nuts then dashing to the car's left side to repeat the process.

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, under the leadership of Rev Racing, supports both crew

For the first two months, she worked two four-hour sessions each day. Daniels told ESPN that her hands were so sore from using the impact wrench that they she stuck them into a sink full of ice water for relief. Now she practices 10 hours a week, Monday through Wednesday. That includes two days with Xcalibur Pit School, which is responsible for placing participants with race teams. Daniels earned her bachelor's degree in mass communication, and works parttime handling social media videos for

Courtesy of NASCAR

Former McCook Community College basketball star Brehanna Daniels has switched sports and now has the opportunity to become the first African-American woman to pit a car in a national racing series.

POTLIGHT S T N E STUD member and driver development opportunities. Driver graduates include NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson, and NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace Jr.



WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL First year head coach Hayley Kobza led the Lady Indians to a 8-24 record. Aijahnae Springs and Dylan Bylund earned post season honors. MEN’S BASKETBALL The Indian men’s basketball went 15-16 during an injury riddled season. Sophomores Lewis Diankulu and Torrey Mayo, along with freshman D’Von Moore took home post season honors. WOMEN’S BASKETBALL First year head coach Kellen Fernetti transitioned well from the Men’s game, leading MCC to a 15-16 record and the NCCAC championship for the second straight year. A’Leah Davis, Erica Peet, and Kaylea Watson earned post season honors and Coach Fernetti won NCCAC Coach of the Year. MEN’S GOLF The McCook CC Golf team finished the season 3rd in the conference and just missed out on their second straight trip to the national tournament. Connor McCrea, McCook’ s only sophomore, finished individually 3rd in the conference earning him 1st team All Conference honors. WOMEN’S SOFTBALL First-year Head Coach Josh Barnes led the Lady Indians to a 22-38 overall record and to a 2nd place finish in the NCCAC. As a team MCC hit .335 with 34 home runs. Kendall Yasuii set the school record with 38 stolen bases. MEN’S BASEBALL The Indians finished the regular season 28-25 overall and 2016 in Empire Conference play, good enough for their second straight post season berth. Coach Olsen’s bunch broke plenty of team and individual records this year including home runs (Dom Paratore), RBI (Paratore), stolen bases (Keanu Van Kuren), Slugging % (Jake Sanford), and pitching strikeouts (Chase Adams).

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL Alexa McCall’s Lady Knights Volleyball team finished the 2016 season with a 14-25 record and were runner-up to Central Community College in the Region IX Division II tournament Megan Chintala, Josie Palmer, and Jessica Lovitt were named to the All-Region IX Division II Team and the All-Region IX Division II Tournament Team. MEN’S BASKETBALL The Knights basketball team, under the direction of Head Coach Kevin O’Connor finished the 2016-17 season with a 22-8 mark, losing to Otero Junior College in the first round of the Region IX tournament. The Knights won their sixth consecutive Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference title. Diontae Champion was named to the All-Region IX Team. Champion was also the Most Valuable Player of the NCCAC. Samuel Kearns was named first team All-NCCAC and Mike Amius was named to the second team. WOMEN’S BASKETBALL Richard Thurin announced his retirement from coaching after 16 seasons as the Lady Knights Head Coach. The Lady Knights finished the 2016-17 season with a 10-19 record. The Lady Knights did win the Region IX Division II championship and lost in the District F Playoff game against Dakota College at Bottineau. Jessica Lovitt, Thomesha Wilson and Allison Tichy were named to the All-Region IX Division II Team and All-Region IX Division II Tournament Team. Lovitt was the third Lady Knight in history to be named All-Region IX in both volleyball and basketball. WOMEN’S SOFTBALL The North Platte Community College Knights softball team finished their 2017 season as division champions and end the season at 30-28. The 30 win season set a record for most wins in a season for Coach Janelle Higgins and the Knights. Sarah Beaton, Shelby Belloni, Samantha Foster, Samantha Gill, and Erin Renwick were named to the All-Region IX Division II team.

MPCC RODEO TEAM WINS REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP The Mid-Plains Community College Rodeo Team will enter the College National Finals Rodeo as the number one men’s team in the Great Plains Region. MPCC has been sitting at the top of the leaderboard in the men’s team standings since September. It won its first rodeo ever as a team during the MPCC Stampede and consistently placed high at subsequent competitions. “I’m probably most proud of the fact that while we’ve been doing well all along, at the end of the season, the team didn’t let the foot off the gas – it was mashed to the floor the whole time,” said Dustin Elliott, MPCC Rodeo Team rough stock coach. “That winning mentality is what it takes to be successful in a career and throughout life in general.” MPCC is also leading the region in a handful of individual events. Rowdy Moon, of Sargent, is the Great Plains Region bareback riding champion. Garrett Wickett, of Norfolk, is

number one in the bull riding, and Chandler Comfort, of Gem, Kan., is the top team roping heeler. Altogether, MPCC is sending seven contestants to nationals. That’s four more than went last year. The other qualifiers include Wyatt Killion, of Ainsworth, who is sitting second in the regional team roping heeler standings, and Kris Rasmussen, of Riverdale, who is second in the region in steer wrestling. “Overall, we’ve had a great year,” said Nokes. “We’ve had a lot of fun in the practice pen and are lucky to have a group of kids who not only want to win really bad, but also mesh well. They practice for one another, not just for themselves, and it shows in how high they placed. Their attitude and support of each other makes them tough to beat.”

COMMENCEMENT 2017 May 12 was a day full of celebration for Mid-Plains Community College and the over 400 students who walked across the stages at McCook and North Platte to accept their degrees, diplomas and certificates. Degrees awarded included Associates of Arts, Associates of Science, Associates of General Studies, Associates of Applied Science Associate Degree of Nursing, and our new Associate of Fine Arts Degree. Activities began with the MCC commencement in McCook, continuing to North Platte for the pinning ceremonies for the 2017 Associate Degree of Nursing Class and Medical Laboratory Technician Program. The NPCC commencement rounded out the festivities. Hosted in the McDonaldBelton Gymnasium. Many of these students will be entering the workforce with their newly earned educational achievements while others will be continuing on to four year colleges and advanced degrees. We wish them all the very best and welcome them as PROUD MPCC ALUMNI!!!


We are saddened to report that Dr. Carlton Williams passed away March 17, 2017.Carlton served as our Interim President in 20022003 after Dr. George Mihel and before Dr. Michael Chipps. He and his wife, Margaret became deeply connected into the community in the short time that they were here.

PRESIDENT’S AWARDS MCC: MR. WALTER SEHNERT A native of Plainview Nebraska, Walter E. Sehnert came from a long line of German bakers. In 1957 he and wife Jean came to McCook where he opened his own Sehnert’s Bakery. He became a member of the school board, which at that time governed both the high school and McCook Junior College. Over the years, the Sehnert family has supported a large number of events ranging from athletics to fine arts. When he retired, Walter became a popular columnist with his weekly history column “From Days Gone By” and later through his books. He also taught business classes at MCC. The Sehnert Bakery began hiring MCC students decades ago as doughnut makers and as delivery drivers. Today, students work in food preparation and as wait staff. Some have helped create marketing materials including logos, shirts and flyer designs. “Having a college like ours is one of the most important assets a community can have,” said Walt. “I’m proud of what our community has done for our college and what the college has done for many of us.” NPCC: DRS. ROBERT & BONNIE BUCKLAND Robert W. Buckland was born in Cedar Rapids Iowa but moved to Omaha, Nebraska in 1956. Bonnie K. Buckland was raised on a farm in northeast Nebraska near the town of Pierce. Bob completed medical school and joined the staff of Great Plains Regional Medical Center in North Platte as a general surgeon. He retired from his practice in 2006. Bonnie graduated with a B.A. in Psychology, completed an MBA, a Ph.D. in Information Systems, and served as the Director of Information Technology at Great Plains Regional Medical Center. She and daughter Vickie launched Buckland Consulting, LLC, and worked with MPCC in a number of successful engagements. Together, Bob and Bonnie co-chaired the 2009-2010 fundraising campaign for the Health and Science Center at Mid-Plains Community College-North Platte. Now retired, they live in Omaha.


A reception hosted by the North Platte Community College Foundation gave local scholarship donors and recipients the opportunity to meet face-to-face on April 11, 2017. “This afternoon’s recognition of scholarship recipients and appreciation for those who provide the means to help deserving students succeed in life is a strong statement toward the value and importance of education,” said Bonnie Kruse, Director of Institutional Advancement. “Students tell us every day how North Platte Community College opened the door to their future. It is through the investment in our students and college that we can continue to transform lives and the future of our communities.”

SCHOLARSHIP SPOTLIGHT Much of the North Platte Community College Foundation’s efforts go toward increasing scholarship opportunities for MPCC students. This year, the Foundation awarded $186,000 to deserving NPCC students. Due to the continued generosity of donors, the Foundation awarded several new scholarships that will provide future generations of students with the knowledge and skills to help them succeed. B.L. “Slim” Hebblethwaite Building Construction Memorial Scholarship will go to a full-time student working towards an Associate Degree in Building Construction.

The Samson Charles Scholarship, established in memory of former NPCC student and Knights basketball player Samson Charles, will go to a full-time NPCC sophomore working towards an Associate Degree. Elaine Kockrow Memorial Scholarship was established in honor of longtime NPCC nursing instructor, Elaine Kockrow. The scholarship will be awarded to a nursing student in their last year of study as they complete their final program training. The Zane Jedrzejczyk Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to an NPCC student pursing their education in and technical or occupation degree program.

Carol Ripple, daughter of B.L. “Slim” Hebblethwaite spoke at the 2017 Scholarship Reception on befalf of her father.



ALUMNI Mid-Plains Community College MCC | NPCC ALUMNI OFFICE 601 W State Farm Road North Platte NE 69101




Mid-Plains Community College has great things in store for alumni! As an MPCC alum, your support in reaching out to prospective and current students, our community, and other alumni is critical to the continued success of the college. You are an invaluable partner to MPCC. To honor this, we plan to provide programs and services that benefit alumni, recognize your accomplishments, and do everything we can to show our appreciation for your continued support. Simply put, we want to stay connected with you.