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Spring 2018 | Edition 2

RCTCMAGAZINE

WHERE ARE THEY NOW AN UPDATE ON GRADS

BACK TO SCHOOL

THE NON-TRADITIONAL WAY

FINAL LECTURE DAVE MACLEOD

PLUS MORE INSIDE >>

COVER STORY

KEEPING

BUILDINGS HEALTHY Building Utilities Mechanic Students >>Pg. 10


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR “WE WON’T CHANGE THE WORLD WITH RCTC MAGAZINE, BUT WE WILL TRY OUR BEST TO INSPIRE, INFORM, AND MAKE YOU THINK ABOUT THE WORLD AROUND YOU.” Dr. Vincent Filak once told me that a story is never done, it’s just due. His nugget of info to fledgling reporters and students has stuck with me ever since that day I sat in a reporting class roughly a decade ago. I often think about it when writing a freelance article. A writer can only tinker so much, and writing is exhausting. I’ve ruminated on what he said more than once during the creation of the issue you’re holding. You see, we’re proud of what we put together for issue one, but we knew we could do better. Or rather, that we wanted to try and craft an even better issue. We wanted better photography, more thoroughly reported stories, to bring student writers into the fold, and publish content that is of value to RCTC students, prospective students, families, and the community. It’s good to obsess over the small details, but eventually, this issue just had to be done. We’re a small, yet dedicated team, but we’re pulled into numerous directions each day. Essentially, we have our core missions, but we constantly have to put out fires, so to speak. As much as we’d like to craft better intros to stories, wittier headlines, and retake some photos, the fact of the matter is that we can’t comb over everything forever. Regardless, we think you will all enjoy this issue a great deal. Because we did put a lot of time and care into it until it was due. Hopefully that’s noticeable, but more importantly, we hope you notice how amazing the people in this magazine are. Just like our makeshift magazine crew, the students, instructors, and staff in this issue are constantly striving for something more. That’s why I found myself sitting in class with Dr. Filak all those years ago. I wanted to do my best to share stories that needed to reach readers. We won’t change the world with RCTC Magazine, but we will try our best to inspire, inform, and make you think about the world around you (or in this case, the people in our world that is RCTC). All we can really do is work hard and push forward. Issue two is the culmination of Dr. Filak’s teaching, a love of education, and passion for helping students hone their skills and craft the tools necessary to become the best versions of themselves.

LOUIS JOHN LIVINGSTON-GARCIA JR EDITOR-IN-CHIEF RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018 | PAGE 2

RCTCMAGAZINE RCTC MAGAZINE IS PUBLISHED TWICE YEARLY FOR MEMBERS OF THE GREATER RCTC COMMUNITY FREE OF CHARGE. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, MARKETING, AND EXTERNAL RELATIONS NATE STOLTMAN RCTC MAGAZINE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF LOUIS LIVINGSTON-GARCIA RCTC MAGAZINE GRAPHIC AND LAYOUT DESIGNER JENEE MCGURREN RCTC MAGAZINE MARKETING SPECIALIST MICHELLE MESSENGER RCTC MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTORS BENTZ/THOMPSON/RIETOW ARCHITECTS LYDIA HANSEN LOUIS LIVINGSTON-GARCIA MICHELLE MESSENGER NATE STOLTMAN CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS NATHAN HOOVER LOUIS LIVINGSTON-GARCIA NATE STOLTMAN KATE WALLACE

RCTC MAGAZINE IS COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. CONTENT MAY BE REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE RCTC COLLEGE RELATIONS OFFICE. COMMENTS, QUESTIONS, OR STORY IDEAS CAN BE SENT TO:

MAGAZINE@RCTC.EDU OR RCTC MAGAZINE ROCHESTER COMMUNITY AND TECHNICAL COLLEGE COLLEGE RELATIONS AND MARKETING - BOX 25 851 30TH AVE. SE ROCHESTER, MN 55904

A member of Minnesota State RCTC IS AN EQUAL OPPO R T U N I T Y EMPLOYER AND EDUC AT O R . ALTERNATIVE FORMATS O F T H I S DOCUMENT ARE AVAIL A B L E BY CONTACT ING DISAB IL ITY SUP P OR T AT 507-280 -2 9 6 8 .


All Smiles

PAGE 6

Taking Care of Buildings

PAGE 10 Mr. President

CONTENTS

PAGE 8

FIRST GLANCE ............................. PAGE 4

WOMEN IN BUM ....................... PAGE 10

FINAL LECTURE ......................... PAGE 22

Want to know what it is like to have a green thumb? Read all about the Horticulture program and find out what it means to be all about plants.

For the first time ever, four female students are in the Building Utilities Mechanic program. They reflect on the program, what brought them there, and why they love it.

Dave Macleod leads a nationally accredited Auto Mechanic program. He talks about that in our Q&A, and how he came to RCTC.

ALL SMILES .................................. PAGE 6

COMMENCEMENT .................... PAGE 14

Two non-traditional students decided to stay at home and raise families. But then they wanted to study Dental Hygiene.

A visual recap of commencement and insight into the event that celebrates all the hard work students put forth during their time at RCTC.

MR. PRESIDENT ........................... PAGE 8 WHERE ARE THEY NOW ........... PAGE 20 RCTC’s incoming President used to keep the peace. Nowadays, he is doing his best to help students learn and will lead Rochester’s storied community and technical college.

From podcasting to health care, these RCTC graduates showcase their skills in an eclectic array of jobs.

On the cover: Leah Barbosa works in one of the Building Utilities Mechanic labs.

Final Lecture

PAGE 22 RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018 | PAGE 3


RCTC HORTICULTURE

GROWING

FOR YOU!

First Glance

HORTICULTURE.

There’s something special about a green thumb—and while not everyone is born with one, it can definitely turn greener with the right education. Students in the Horticulture Technology program learn everything from soil and its effects on plants, to urban forestry, and pest management. Plus, when winter is still hanging on well into April, students get to work in a warm greenhouse full of green, pink, and red colors that can take your mind off the outside weather. Hands-on training and classroom learning combine to form a unique educational experience. Plus, you might even climb a tree or two. PAGE 4 | RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018

• • • • • •

Program and degree options include Horticulture Technology and Horticulture Science. Students get to learn in an 11,200 square-foot classroom and lab space. 4,800 square feet of greenhouse space exists for students to get a great hands-on experience. The Horticulture program at RCTC was first introduced using repurposed culinary arts kitchen space that was remodeled for more green needs. Some students participate in a controlled burn as part of a project to restore prairie land by clearing invaders and restoring diversity. Horticulture Instructor and Program Leader Robin Fruth-Dugstad writes a column about all things plant for the Rochester Post-Bulletin. Students, staff, and instructors can find plants and flower arrangements for sale at various points of the year thanks to the hard work and loving plant care by Horticulture students. The greenhouse contains a corpse flower, otherwise known as amorphophallus gigas. When it is in full bloom, it smells… kind of funky–rotting meat funky. It’s a pretty cool plant, regardless of the stink.


RCTC NEWS

A LOT HAS HAPPENED DURING THIS SCHOOL YEAR. WE HAVE GATHERED MANY OF THE HIGHLIGHTS HERE.

INTERIM PRESIDENT AWARDED LEADMN PRESIDENT OF THE YEAR

GRADUATE AWARDED LEADMN ALUMNI OF THE YEAR

RCTC’s Interim President Dr. Mary Davenport was awarded the LeadMn 2018 President of the Year. “President Davenport embodies everything that is great about the Minnesota State community,” said Mike Dean, Executive Director of LeadMN, the statewide association for community and technical college students. “She goes to work every day with the goal of making an impact on student lives by encouraging an educational environment that propels students to reach for the stars.” 2017-18 RCTC Student Senate President Sarah Brakebill-Hacke added, “I learned more about leadership from President Davenport than anyone I have ever known. She has been a steadfast supporter of students, she has gained the trust of the faculty and administration, and most importantly, she has facilitated communication and cooperation among all the various groups on campus: faculty, students, and staff. There is no person that could possibly deserve this award more than President Davenport, and I offer my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to her on a job well done.” The entire RCTC community thanks President Davenport for her tireless dedication to student success – not only at RCTC, but throughout her three-decade career serving Minnesota State students, faculty, and staff.

LeadMN honored Heather Darby with its Alumni of the Year award. Ms. Darby graduated from RCTC in 2000 and was RCTC’s Student Senate President in 1999-2000. “This alumni member has been a huge help to what goes on behind the scenes,” said Chelsea Self, Public Relations Coordinator for LeadMN. “From reading hundreds of scholarship applications to assisting with our annual scholarship gala.” This is the second time that Darby has been honored with this award.

STUDENTS CREATE AND DONATE DIVERSITYTHEMED ARTWORK Members of Rochester Community and Technical College’s Art & Design Club have generously donated a custom piece of art to the College. The 48” x 48” oil on canvas is on display in RCTC’s Atrium. While currently untitled, the theme for the piece is diversity. The RCTC students who created the artwork include Munira Alimire, Omnya Mohamed, Vivian Nguyen, Edward Otterness, Katie Scherger, Lul Sharif, and Chloe Thiemann. Prior to the unveiling, the artwork had an interesting journey. Art & Design Club students designed and began working on the oil on canvas last fall. In mid-December of 2017, the artwork went missing from the RCTC art studio. Through some great detective work and helpful technology on campus, the artwork was located off campus and returned to the Art & Design Club.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 13 RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018 | PAGE 5


ALL SMILES FOR TWO

NON-TRADITIONAL STUDENTS

From left: Jessie Ludden and Beth Hustad.

TWO BUSY MOMS DECIDE TO PURSUE A CAREER IN ORAL HEALTH CARE The sun most likely hasn’t started to shine over Cannon Falls when two RCTC Dental Hygiene students are thinking about teeth, how to clean them, and how to contend with a combined force of nine children about to wake up and begin the chaos of getting ready for school on time. PAGE 6 | RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018

“Today. 3:30,” Beth Hustad answers when asked what time she was up this particular morning. Most mornings she’s not up that early before her five children, but “it depends on how early our nerves wake us up.” The “us” she refers to is herself and Jessie Ludden, a childhood friend who, like her, has a busy morning with four kids. And similarly, graduated from the Dental Hygiene program on May 10. One day at church the duo decided it was time to go to school, something neither of them had done before. Hustad brought it

up, which she thought was surprising since Ludden is the more adventurous of the two. Ludden credits her interest in dental hygiene to when she took her oldest son to the dentist for the first time when he was about two. “It just opened my eyes to this profession,” she says. “Before then it just really wasn’t on my radar for some reason.” Hustad always went to the dentist every six months. As the oldest of four sisters she says they all have nice teeth and are kind of obsessed with them.


“WE HOPE OUR KIDS ARE INSPIRED BY THIS, BUT I DO THINK IT HAS KIND OF TAKEN A TOLL ON THEM. I HOPE IT INSPIRES MY KIDS TO BE COMMITTED TO WHAT THEY CHOOSE TO DO, AND KNOW THAT IT’S GOING TO GET HARD BUT THEY HAVE TO PUSH THROUGH IT.” Hustad and Ludden with their children.

“You can’t really pick a better career when you have a family.” “You can’t really pick a better career when you have a family,” she adds. Even with the ambition and new route planned, their first foray into researching the program didn’t pan out. “We went to Argosy (University) in Eagan, Minn., first, and we were just like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Because the price was unreal. Unreal,” Hustad recalls. “At that point I’m like, ‘there’s no way I can afford to go to college,” Ludden adds. They found Rochester Community and Technical College, meeting with RCTC academic advisor Eric Sime. “He was crucial in helping us map out our journeys,” Ludden explains. What came next was challenging. Both students always wanted to have large families, and to be able to stay at home and raise them. “We knew we wanted to get married and have great families,” Hustad says. Adding class on top of that life proved challenging. They found some solace in the one-hour drive to school. They could talk about the kids, figure out who was taking which kids to which sports practice, study, or just catch up. For Ludden, who at 18 had no idea what she wanted to do if she were to go to college, what seemed insurmountable at first ended up making sense. “I know what has to be done and [I] get it done,” Ludden says. “I’m a dedicated student now. I don’t think I would have been

that at 18. The disadvantage is now there’s a lot more on your plate.” “Our kids are all in sports,” said Hustad. “You’re just balancing so many more schedules,” Ludden piggybacks. “We’ll just say it’s just not easy, we’ll put it that way,” Hustad finishes. Hustad estimates she takes her car up and down her road at least 10 times a day, bringing different kids to volleyball while somehow trying to find time to study. “You shouldn’t compare yourself to other students in your class, but it is hard,” Hustad says. “A disadvantage is comparing yourself.” “To be in the Dental Hygiene program you have to work hard to get there,” Ludden, who is also a 4.0 student, says. “We’re all good students in that sense that we work hard. It’s hard work. I feel prepared to go out and be a dental hygienist.” “The advantage of our class is you can’t really get lazy,” Hustad says. With school over it’s time for new adventures to be planned, but also time to find a return to form. “They’re just as ready as we are to be done,” Hustad says of their children. “We hope our kids are inspired by this, but I do think it has kind of taken a toll on them. I hope it inspires my kids to be committed to what they choose to do, and know that it’s going to get hard but they have to push through it,” Ludden says. “And really, in a sense, they are pushing

through it,” Hustad continues. “It isn’t easy,” she adds, commenting that she is about to tear up. Ludden has some job offers. “I’m kind of forced to look at those opportunities earlier than I planned, but I definitely don’t think full-time right away for me is what I want right now,” she says. “As weird as it sounds, we need to get things back on track,” Hustad says. “Family, is what I’m talking about. There’s no norm right now.” “We have to figure out what are new norm is going to be,” Ludden drives home. That’s not a bad thing. From concocting the plan to go back to school in church to graduation, RCTC has helped both students write another chapter of their lives. “I love the program. I love school. I love when I’m here. They really guide you and set you up and help you. It’s just the challenge comes with trying to balance out your home life and school life,” Ludden says. “They’re just so freaking smart,” Hustad laughs when talking about how advisors want you to succeed. “And now we did it and here we are,” Ludden says. And if a 38- and 39-year-old can do it – both with busy family lives – Ludden says just about anyone can. “It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be doable,” she says.

RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018 | PAGE 7


DR. JEFFERY BOYD JJ

FROM PEACE OFFICER TO PRESIDENT taking the helm of

RCTC ON JULY 1

It isn’t often we think about the early lives of people in positions of leadership, or what they enjoy away from the job. When Dr. Jeffery Boyd steps into his new role as President of Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) on July 1, 2018, the College is not only getting someone who will help lead an exceptional academic institution, but someone with an exceptional history that has shaped and defined who he is. It all started with a badge. PAGE 8 | RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018


His time as a police officer is telling – his first career after graduating from a community college in California. “Well, one of my best friends in this world, Mike King, is a guy I had the privilege of releasing from jail for DUI, on March 29, 1987,” Boyd begins. “After his release, we spoke outside of the jail. We discussed how a life change was in order for him, as his life was in pretty bad shape. A year later, I ran into him at a gas station and he was a new man, truly born again. He shared how he had been clean from alcohol and drugs, and that his life was transformed. “He and I stay in touch, and he calls me every year on our anniversary (March 29). Falsely, he attributes me with saving his life that day. We are eternal brothers and friends, through divine intervention and a special moment in time.” It’s clear the impact his early career had on his life. Boyd admits the job was challenging but rewarding, underappreciated work. “[It’s] a job that deals with a sundry of perplexing people situations every day requiring the use of sound judgement, discretion, ethics, and safety,” he says. “Think about it, in dangerous situations what most people run from, police officers run into.

“From my role as a police officer, I learned that by treating people with respect, most people will reciprocate it – and I stress the word most. Also, as an officer, I learned about team work, planning, behavioral analysis (emotional intelligence), community engagement, public safety, and much more. These lessons all involve working effectively with people and are valuable lessons to prepare me for this role [at RCTC].”

More recently, he’s used many of those skill sets acquired as an officer at Tidewater Community College (TCC) in Norfolk, Virginia, where he serves as the provost, chief operating officer, and lead academic and student affairs administrator. Before TCC, he served Elgin Community College (Illinois) in various roles, the Quad County Urban League as director of education and employment, and held roles in student services for Olivet Nazarene University and Waubonsee Community College. “My other academic roles as a high school history teacher, academic advisor, minority student retention coordinator, career and technical associate dean and dean, adjunct instructor, and campus provost have provided the experience for senior-level leadership in higher education,” he explains. “As a community college graduate, I fully understand how community colleges improve people’s lives through learning.” Rochester is a new, welcoming challenge. “The vibe I get is that Rochester is a city that is on the move,” Boyd says. “A place with a true sense of pride and energy and a great place to live. “Rochester seems to be a dynamic, multicultural, and innovative city,” he continues. “The Destination Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic are amazing examples of a thriving and innovative research community.” As far as first-year goals, Boyd has a solid idea of what he wants to pursue. “Focus on student success and completion, sound fiscal management, great relationships with faculty, staff and community stakeholders, and being a major contributor to a city that is on the move, a place with pride and energy, and a great place to work,” Boyd lists off. When he’s not leading the College, Boyd also expects to get in some leisure time. “I relax by spending time with family and friends. I love watching sports, especially the playoffs or championship weekends in college sports. Basketball is my favorite sport, although I played football, baseball, and basketball growing up. And I never played on a losing team, I might add. “As for leisure activities, I enjoy exercise and nature walking, reading books on history and theology, and listening to jazz. And of course, hanging out with my wife, Carolyn.”

RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018 | PAGE 9


COVER STORY “Men are not born being mechanically inclined; they learn it. So, just like women can learn, it’s not an issue.”

PAGE10 10 || RCTC RCTC MAGAZINE MAGAZINE | | SPRING PAGE SPRING2018 2018

Erin Meyer works in a Building Utilities Mechanic lab.


QUARTET IS PROVING ANYONE CAN BE A BUM THE NITTY GRITTY OF BEING A BUILDING UTILITIES MECHANIC

“I THINK FOR WOMEN IT’S IRONIC. CAREGIVING IS SO INNATE TO MANY WOMEN. BUT IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, TAKING CARE OF A BUILDING IS ANOTHER FORM OF CAREGIVING. WHEN YOU’RE TAKING CARE OF A BUILDING YOU’RE TAKING CARE OF THE PEOPLE INSIDE THE BUILDING AS WELL.” For the first time ever, Building Utilities Mechanic, or BUM, has four female students in the program at once. That shouldn’t be news, but in a day and age where gender roles are still maliciously assumed and assigned, it’s joyful to see four students unafraid to go for their dreams. In spite of BUM being a male dominated program, the quartet hasn’t run into any issues in the classroom. “One of my concerns coming in is I knew that it would be all men,” Leah Barbosa, who is finishing up her first semester, says. “It wasn’t so much a concern as like, how am I going to fit in and, conversation wise. I’m very outgoing, a social person, so those connections are important to me. How they look at you, how they treat you.” “You almost have to prove yourself to them, in a way,” Erin Meyer, in her final semester, cuts in. “That took like a week, or less,” she adds, giving an example of how fellow students were asking her right away about her plumbing loops. “At first it was a little bit intimidating. Surrounded by all these young kids.” (Meyer is a non-traditional student who has worked at Mayo Clinic for 13 years, and is currently working in the emergency department.) “But now I’m just one of them.” Two second semester students, Anessa Stuve and Tysha Allen, have also found the environment welcoming. “I have to admit it’s kind of nice walking in and seeing Tysha there,” Stuve says. “I’ve never felt like I had to prove myself.”

Tysha Allen controls water pumps.

For them, there is a shared bond of putting their hands to use and ensuring things work. Meyer and Stuve both had grandparents who taught them how to fix things around their farms. Allen was first interested in construction but was swayed by a family friend to pursue BUM. Barbosa had a previous job where she coordinated service vendors. “As they came into the building I saw the work they were doing, took an interest in that, and thought, not only was I interested in it and it seemed like stuff I could do, but stuff I should know how to do,” Barbosa explains. “It seemed silly calling people in for some of the basic maintenance stuff of running a building.” All of them agree that the work also provides good money, and the eclectic labs are a plus that anyone can learn. “Speaking to the gender specific piece, I remind myself that these are learned skills,” says Barbosa. “Men are not born being mechanically inclined; they learn it. So, just like women can learn, it’s not an issue.” The hands-on part of it seems to be the best part of the program overall. If you walk into one of the labs, you see steam, valves, toilets – and eventually you go out and work around town. Meyer spends hours of her week utilizing her skills at Mayo Clinic and its surrounding properties. “I’m still surprised by the variety; every semester is different. It’s such a hybrid program,” Barbosa says. “This, I’m just still shocked that it’s all able to fit.” RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018 | PAGE 11


COVER STORY CONTINUED The students might call the BUM acronym “painful,” but it’s one that makes sense to the local industry, each student says. And even though gender isn’t the focus of the work, and shouldn’t be, Barbosa thinks that maybe there is some kind of connection to it. “I think for women it’s ironic,” Barbosa begins. “Caregiving is so innate to many women. But if you think about it, taking care of a building is another form of caregiving. A building is just like a body; there’s interconnected systems, there’s preventative maintenance, parts that give out as the buildings get older. When I’ve talked with younger women I’ve kind of mentioned that, had them think about it in a different way. “When you’re taking care of a building you’re taking care of the people inside the building as well.” Anessa Stuve.

WHY WORK IN BUM?

ACCORDING TO DATA UPDATED DURING THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2018, THE MEDIAN WAGE FOR SOMEONE WORKING IN THE BUILDING UTILITIES MECHANIC FIELD IS:

$22.36/HR IN ROCHESTER

$24.36/HR IN MINNEAPOLIS

UP TO $37.47/HR

THE RANGE OF PAY IN THE ROCHESTER AREA IS $12.65 AN HOUR TO $36.74 AN HOUR. MINNEAPOLIS SKEWS A LITTLE HIGHER $13.47 AN HOUR TO $37.18 AN HOUR. PAGE 12 | RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018

SOURCE: MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT


RCTC NEWS CONTINUED

RCTC STUDENTS ONLY MINNESOTANS AWARDED PRESTIGIOUS COOKE FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPS RCTC is honored that two of its students, Sarah Brakebill-Hacke and Munira Alimire, were awarded prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarships. These RCTC students were the only recipients in the state of Minnesota.

Sarah Brakebill-Hacke Sarah Brakebill-Hacke was one of 47 recipients and 2,500 applicants of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. This highly competitive national scholarship will provide Ms. Brakebill-Hacke with up to $40,000 annually for a maximum of three years to complete her bachelor’s degree. Sarah graduated from RCTC in May and was Student Senate President. She was the only student from Minnesota to be selected for the Cooke Foundation College Transfer Scholarship Program. From left: Mary Davenport and Jaime Tjossem.

2018 OUTSTANDING EDUCATORS NAMED RCTC instructors Jaime Tjossem, Brendan Shea, and Peter Karnilaw were selected to receive the College’s 2018 Outstanding Educator Award. Instructors were nominated by faculty, students, and staff, and completed an extensive portfolio of their work and accomplishments at RCTC in order to be considered for the award. The Outstanding Educators’ teaching portfolios are statements about who they are as instructors and makes visible their work in planning coursework, teaching, and improving student learning. Nominees’ portfolios are reviewed for teaching philosophy; content expertise and professional growth; teaching strategies and materials; standards of assessment of student learning and performance; and service to students, profession, institution, and the Minnesota State system. RCTC’s Outstanding Educators, their colleagues from across the state, and the Educator of the Year award recipients were honored at a system-wide reception in April.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED Given as part of the RCTC Foundation’s Scholarship Celebration, 14 students were awarded Workforce Development Scholarships. In collaboration with local business and industry, scholarships were targeted toward specific occupational groups to address workforce shortages in these areas, such as manufacturing, agriculture, health care and information technology. In 2017, the Minnesota Legislature created the program and appropriated $1 million for fiscal year 2019 to encourage students to enroll in state colleges. RCTC was granted $35,000 in funds to award scholarships to students enrolling in select high-demand career programs. Scholarships ranged from $1,750 to $2,500 per year.

Munira Alimire Munira Alimire, who was a post-secondary enrollment option (PSEO) student, was also awarded a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship. Ms. Alimire held an executive leadership position as the Student Senate Secretary and will also receive up to $40,000 annually to complete her bachelor’s degree. Ms. Alimire has applied and been accepted to several prestigious universities including: Stanford, Yale and Harvard. In addition to the monetary award, these new Cooke Transfer Scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising from foundation staff to guide them through the processes of transitioning to a fouryear school and preparing for their careers The foundation will additionally provide opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as connection to a thriving network of 2,300 fellow Cooke Scholars and alumni. “Community colleges provide an affordable first step for many students with financial need to begin their higher education journey,” said Harold O. Levy, executive director of the Cooke Foundation. “Cooke Transfer Scholars have demonstrated incredible ability and ambition, and we look forward to supporting their success at universities such as Stanford, Cornell, and MIT.” RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018 | PAGE 13


CONGRATULATIONS RCTC CLASS OF 2018 MAY 10 | ROCHESTER REGIONAL SPORTS CENTER

PAGE 14 | RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018


931 students graduated at Rochester Community and Technical College’s Commencement on May 10. 130 students graduated with Honors (those with a 3.5 – 3.75 grade point average) and 142 with High Honors (a 3.75 grade point average or higher). The College invited father and son attorneys, Terry and Jay Adkins, to be keynote speakers. Jay graduated from RCTC with an Associate of Arts degree. He is now a partner at Godwin Dold. Terry recently retired as the longest-serving city attorney in Rochester history. Words of encouragement were shared with students, who were all smiles as they received their diplomas. RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018 | PAGE 15


INTERIM PRESIDENT

RETIRES AFTER LIFE OF EDUCATION PROGRAM DIRECTOR, SYSTEM DIRECTOR,

VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENT

It’s fair to say not many in the Minnesota State system have seen and done as much as RCTC Interim President Mary Davenport, who will retire June 30, 2018. In announcing her retirement to the faculty and staff of RCTC in August of 2017, President Davenport had much to say. “I’ve been very fortunate in my career to work in a field that I love – education. Moreover, I’ve been fortunate to work for thirty of those years in a state that I love – Minnesota. And to top it all off, serving this College as Interim President is more than I ever imagined. I’ve said it before, this is a great College, with phenomenal people, in a wonderfully dynamic city.” During her 30-year tenure with both the former Minnesota Davenport participates in Technical College an archery class during the System and merged 2017 presidential swap day. Minnesota State system, Dr. Davenport has worn many hats, logged many miles, but has always kept her focus on putting the students first. As she prepares for her retirement and transition away from campus life, it is worth looking back at the remarkable career and journey President Davenport has taken in her three decades of service to Minnesota’s state colleges and universities. Interim President Davenport started her career in Minnesota in 1988 as Vice President and Curriculum Specialist at Hibbing Community College (HCC) on northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. At HCC, she led the initiative to convert clock-hours to credit hours, as well as managing and developing programs, leading technical education preparation, and facilitating the merger with Eveleth Technical College. PAGE 16 | RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018

Through her success in Hibbing, Dr. Davenport joined the Minnesota Technical College System in 1993 as System Tech Prep Program Director where she implemented and oversaw growth of the statewide technical education preparation initiative. In 1995, Davenport assumed the role of System Director for Educational Grants and Carl Perkins Vocational Technical Education, where she led the first joint State Plan for Career and Technical Education (CTE) with the Minnesota Department of Education, and worked with the U.S. Department of Education on Perkins Grant reauthorization and accountability issues, as well as advancing statewide partnerships. In 2005, Davenport took on new challenges as the System’s Executive Director for State and Federal Government Relations where she led the development and implementation of the System’s political engagement strategy with federal, state, and local elected officials, regulatory agencies, and key policymakers. Dr. Davenport returned to campus life in 2011 as Interim Dean of Health and Service Programs at Saint Paul College where she was responsible for the management and leadership of healthcare and service occupation program areas. Following her one-year interim appointment, Dr. Davenport was named Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Riverland Community College in 2012. With campuses in Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, Davenport was charged with the management and leadership of academic program offerings and student services at the three Riverland campuses.

“BEING A MEMBER OF THE RCTC COLLEGE COMMUNITY HAS BEEN THE CAPSTONE TO MY CAREER. FEELING THE COMMITMENT OF RCTC FACULTY AND STAFF TO STUDENTS WILL FOREVER STAY WITH ME.” Though four years into a position she truly enjoyed, Davenport was about to come face to face a new set of opportunities and challenges. Following the six-month appointment of Joyce Helens as RCTC’s Interim President, the Minnesota State Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Mary Davenport as RCTC Interim President beginning July 1, 2016. In the 18 months prior to her arrival, the College had experienced a number of leadership transitions and other challenges. Though many daunting tasks lay ahead including the College’s reaffirmation of accreditation, Davenport took each in stride and led the College with grace and wisdom that one can only acquire through many years of dedication and service.


SCHOLARSHIPS ESSENTIAL FOR

STUDENTS

The RCTC Foundation hosted its annual scholarship event on May 1, handing out 120 scholarships worth over $252,000. Workforce Development scholarships were also awarded, bringing the total to over $289,000. The student below wanted to write a thank you letter because of how much receiving a scholarship meant to him. If you’re attending RCTC or plan to, keep an eye open for available scholarships. Reflecting on her time at RCTC, Davenport said, “Being a member of the RCTC college community has been the capstone to my career. Feeling the commitment of RCTC faculty and staff to students will forever stay with me.” In comments to the Minnesota State Board of Trustees’ Human Resources Committee, Chancellor Devinder Malhotra said, “President Davenport inherited a challenging situation and has done a brilliant job in getting the college back on track and repositioning it to secure its future. She has expanded partnership opportunities with Rochester-area businesses and organizations, significantly improved internal college communication, and led the college through the process of receiving reaffirmation of accreditation.” Davenport offers simple advice for the staff and faculty of RCTC: “Never forget that the reason you are here at RCTC, is to serve our students and to improve students’ lives. Live the RCTC mission every day. Demonstrate our core values every day. Don’t forget to live the ‘Golden Rule.’” Following her last day at RCTC, Dr. Davenport is looking forward to living with her husband, Dr. Richard Davenport (President of Minnesota State University, Mankato), and “having only one residence!” She plans on spending time with her family including her 98-year-old father, her daughters and their families, as well as doing some traveling, reading, and possibly some writing. When asked if there was one specific memory from her career that stands out, she responded humbly. “Serving as President of RCTC will always be the highlight of my career.” For many at the College, Davenport’s time at RCTC will be a highlight of their careers as well.

Dear RCTC Foundation scholarship sponsor, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the gift of this scholarship and express what it means to me. A scholarship in itself means a lot to my family, but the fact that this is a music scholarship is extra special. I am autistic and communicating with others has always been difficult, but music became a way for me to communicate. I couldn’t talk, but my mom played music so we could dance together. I often got frustrated because people could not understand me, but music would help calm me. I learned how to ask y mom to play music for me. When I got older, I joined the school band. Later, I joined marching band, pep band, and symphonic band. This past September, I returned to my high school. To play in the pep band at their homecoming football game. It felt great to see my former band director and be a part of that group again. My mother is a single parent. We have never had a lot of money, but she and my grandparents have worked hard to give me opportunities. I want to make my family proud by becoming a college graduate. This scholarship will help me accomplish my goal and it will also help my family. I appreciate this gift so much and I, and my family, thank you. Riley E. Morrow

RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018 | PAGE 17


PLAZA-MEMORIAL BONDING PROJECT FINALLY GETS GREEN LIGHT

NEW SPACES FOR BETTER LEARNING

In the early 1970s, the Plaza East and West buildings were the hottest new real estate on the Rochester State Junior College campus. With offices and classrooms – including what is now Memorial Hall 223, a 220-seat lecture hall which holds the distinction of being the largest classroom on campus – the two buildings were a welcomed addition to the growing College.

Coffman Center, and Singley Hall on the west side of Main Campus. The existing maintenance garage and old child care center will be torn down. A new building entrance and drop-off lane will also be constructed.

RENOVATION Memorial Hall third floor.

Plaza East and West in the 1970s.

Unfortunately, as the needs of students and the College evolved over time, the concrete bunker-esque buildings quickly became outdated, inefficient, and obsolete by today’s standards. MH223 now only seats 190 students thanks to deterioration. Lack of adequate space, failing mechanical systems, inaccessibility, and life-safety issues plagued the buildings and those who learned and worked in them. Thus brings RCTC to the present – or at least 10 years ago. Seeing the need for more flexible, learner-centered space, RCTC began the capital improvement project funding process to coincide with the 2008 Minnesota Legislative Session. The original predesign documents for the Plaza and Memorial (Plaza West was renamed in 1988) Halls project were completed in November 2008. PAGE 18 | RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018

The project was submitted for design funds beginning with the 2010 capital bond request and was listed as project number 17 on the final Minnesota State capital bond request in 2012. The Plaza and Memorial Hall project was not funded that year, but it was scored and vetted again in 2013, 2015, and in 2017. The project did receive $1 million in 2014 to create initial design documents, but had received no further funding. Despite ongoing support from local legislators, the project kept missing the cut.

FINALLY

As part of the 2018 legislative session, the Minnesota House and Senate sent Governor Dayton a nearly $1.5 billion capital investment and bonding package which allocated the necessary funds for the Plaza/ Memorial Hall project. The nearly $23 million endeavor consists of three phases: construction, renovation, and demolition.

CONSTRUCTION

New offices, flex-space, and a large, versatile classroom will occupy the two-story addition which wraps around Endicott Hall,

In an effort to maximize space utilization amongst existing square footage, spaces in Endicott, Singley, College Center, and Science and Technology buildings will see a number of upgrades and renovations including moving walls, upgrading technology, updating furniture, and making the spaces more learner-friendly.

A LONG TIME COMING

After 10 years treading water, faculty, staff, and students are more than ready for the project to begin. From leaky ceilings, rodent infestations, drafty walls, inefficient and inoperable ventilation systems, falling ceiling tiles, and so much more, horror stories abound when you mention Plaza and Memorial Halls. RCTC student Mady Keilen who had Human Anatomy and Physiology in Memorial Hall 223 noted, “the room has been nicknamed the dungeon. Which is very fitting for it.” English Instructor Pam Whitfield says she must leave her office heat on “24/7 for six months of the year,” saying if she were to shut it off, it doesn’t come back on without Facilities and Maintenance intervention. “I have no idea how they do it, but it dies every time and then my office is ridiculously cold for the next few days until maintenance can get to it.”


CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULE

“IN THE SUMMER, THE FOURTH FLOOR BECOMES A JUNGLE.” Communication Instructor Annie Clement has resorted to “MacGuyver-ing” her own tool to fix her heating and air-conditioning unit. “You bend a paper clip so there are two sharp points. Next, you make sure your unit is turned off. Finally, you find a white box mixed in with some wires and you jam the sharp points into either side, and, tada! You have heat or cold.” Mike Mutschelknaus, whose office is on the fourth floor of Plaza Hall, laments, “In the spring time the rain leaks from the roof, trickles down the walls, stains the ceilings, and, during heavy rains, actually pours as torrents of water into giant trash can tubs.” Due to poor air-handling, Philosophy Instructor Tim O’Neill said, “In the summer, the fourth floor becomes a jungle.” The inconsistent and ineffective HVAC systems have created noted challenges for faculty, staff, and students who spend time in Plaza and Memorial Halls. O’Neill adds, “For many years, we have rented and run industrial dehumidifiers in Memorial and Plaza Halls. In addition to the rental costs, these machines must draw heavily on the electricity. The dehumidifiers are obnoxious.”

MH223 in the 1970s.

The Senate Capital Investment Committee visits MH223 in 2018.

Now that funding has been secured, the entire project is expected to be completed within two years. The first step will be to complete the remaining construction documents, contractor bidding, and contract awarding – hopefully concluded by September 30, 2018. Construction, renovation, and remodeling is expected to start in October, concluding in mid-July, 2019. Demolition of Plaza and Memorial Halls is slated for mid-September 2019 through October, 2019. The final project, courtyard and exterior improvements, will begin in November 2019 with an anticipated completion date of July 31, 2020. Of course, these are educated estimates and actual timelines may vary. The College is looking forward to a formal groundbreaking later this summer, then construction to get underway this fall. Construction renderings courtesy of Bentz/Thompson/Rietow Architects.

BY THE NUMBERS PLAZA & MEMORIAL HALLS RIGHT-SIZE, RENEW & RENOVATE CLASSROOMS AND LABS FOR

21ST

CENTURY LEARNING

RENOVATE

11,000

G.S.F. OF UNDER-UTILIZED EXISTING SPACE

CREATE

ONE

REPLACE

20,000

G.S.F. OF ACADEMIC AND STUDENT SUPPORT SPACE

Architect renderings of building addition as seen from the west.

NEW CENTRAL CHILLER PLANT WITH EXPANSION CAPABILITIES TO SERVE ENTIRE MAIN CAMPUS AND REGIONAL SPORTS CENTER BUILDINGS IN THE FUTURE

REDUCE

CAMPUS DEFERRED MAINTENANCE BACKLOG BY

$4.4M

REDUCE ANNUAL OPERATING BUDGET & UTILITY EXPENSES BY

IMPROVE

SPACE UTILIZATION FROM 47% TO

Water damage from leaky ceiling.

74%

$143K

RCTC MAGAZINE SPRING 2018 | PAGE 19


WHERE ARE THEY NOW? JASON ARHELGER CLASS OF 2009

Jason Arhelger was a liberal arts and sciences major, mostly attending RCTC for general classes before moving on to McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul. “It was a great time; I really enjoyed RCTC,” the Rochester-native said. “It was nice to be able to go home every day and still live at home with my parents, and save money that way. A bunch of my friends from school and work all went to RCTC.” Arhelger went to McNally to earn his degree in Recording Arts and now has a fascinating career within the music world as a lighting technician, and even owns his own business, Jason A Productions. “My first tour with Upstaging (the company he does lighting for) was for Oprah Winfrey,” Arhelger said. “She did a threemonth long motivational speaking tour. From there, I spent 19 months on the road all over the world with AC/DC, and then Guns N’ Roses, Radiohead. I finished last year with Janet Jackson, and currently will be going back with Radiohead (he’s flying to South America for a tour). If that wasn’t cool enough for a music fan, he’s even met some people from different bands he’s worked for.

PAGE 20 | RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018

RCTC STUDENTS HAVE GONE ON TO AMAZING CAREERS. WHETHER IT’S CREATING A PODCAST ABOUT THE MISADVENTURES OF BOUNTY HUNTERS IN SPACE, OR SETTING UP LIGHTING FOR OPRAH WINFREY, RCTC GRADS ARE FULLY IMMERSED IN THEIR CRAFT AND CAREERS. BUT DON’T JUST TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT.

BRIANT FRUTH TRISTAN MILLER CLASS OF 2010

Tristin Miller makes his living through various means. He’s a podcaster, an actor, and a stand-up comedian. He first began studying at RCTC during his senior year of high school as a Post-Secondary Enrollment Option student (PSEO). It was an eyeopening experience. “What was really wonderful was the staff was very much aware… they had such a wide mix of people and treated everyone equally,” Miller said, whether that was him or a 35-year-old nontraditional student. One instructor in particular who helped him grow immensely was theatre instructor Jerry Casper. “He is definitely one of (the), or the best, acting teachers I’ve ever head,” Miller said. “His program at RCTC is incredible… and growth oriented, where a lot of acting programs aren’t. He had a good idea of the growth you had as an individual artist instead of some mark in his head that every student needed to be at.” After RCTC Miller attended the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, studying acting for two years, and getting the chance to feel like he was working in the industry. A production company he formed with another Rochester-native in 2011 had laid dormant before he decided to start publishing podcasts under the label. He chose podcasts after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. “I wanted a platform to talk about that,” he said. “I realized how fun and attainable podcasting is. Through this production company, I started producing four other podcasts.” Miller has also been working on short films and assisting in directing a Shakespeare play. Last year he performed 100 shows as a stand-up comedian.

CLASS OF 2008

Fruth earned an Associate of Arts degree at RCTC. “My experience at RCTC was amazing,” Fruth said. “Being a father at the age of 17, attending RCTC made it possible to attend school full time while also working to pay for my education as well as support my family. The affordable rates, the proximity to my home, and flexible scheduling (including evening courses, hybrid, and online courses) made attending college a reality when my circumstances made the possibility seem bleak.” Fruth went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, mathematics education, and a minor in statistics at Winona State University. “Finishing my associates degree at RCTC made this transition extremely simple as Winona State University recognized the degree as a successful completion of my general education courses, and I was able to transfer directly into the Mathematics Education program,” Fruth explained. After the successful stints in college, Fruth found a job at the Mayo Clinic in the Health Sciences Research department as a statistical programmer analyst. “I work in Cancer Center Statistics providing statistical support for a number of clinical trials.” RCTC’s impact on his career and life can’t be understated. “I think there are people who see RCTC as a stepping stone to the next thing,” he began. “I did not see it this way. I believe the quality of instruction as well as the depth and breadth of the knowledge I gained at RCTC was equivalent to that of Winona State University. The instructors were second to none, went above and beyond, and provided me benefits to my education outside of the classroom. “One instructor secured grant funding for me to attend the annual Mathematics conference in Duluth (Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics). I attended this conference through RCTC even after I had graduated and transferred to Winona State.”


RCTC STUDENTS SHARE WHAT THEY’VE

ACCOMPLISHED

SINCE GRADUATION

MATT DENEEN

“BEING AN RCTC GRADUATE HAS GIVEN NEW GRADS A PERK AT MAYO CLINIC. WE ARE VERY BLESSED TO HAVE CLINICAL AND LEARN FROM THE NUMBER ONE MEDICAL HOSPITAL.”

CLASS OF 2017

“THE EDUCATION I RECEIVED AT RCTC HAS ALLOWED ME TO TAKE ON A CHALLENGING JOB STRAIGHT FROM GRADUATION, WHILE ALSO SETTING ME UP TO PURSUE MY DREAMS OF FURTHER EDUCATION.”

Deneen began his college career at Dakota County Technical College pursuing nanoscience before realizing his strengths were engineering and design. He made the switch to RCTC, studying computer aided drafting and precision machining. “My time at RCTC was very enjoyable,” he recalled. “My first year was almost entirely devoted to classes. As I was taking 28-30 credits per semester to complete the PMT (Precision Manufacturing Technology) program and the first year of CAD (Computer Aided Drafting). My second year at RCTC I was more involved with the college. I became the Student Senate Treasurer and President of the CAD club.” After earning his associates degree, Deneen took a job with Black Forest Ltd., and is taking more classes at Saint Mary’s University to earn a Bachelors in Business Administration and eventually a Masters in Project Management. At Black Forest, a company that creates corporate recognition jewelry, like rings or lapel pins, he works as a CNC Programmer and Operator. “The education I received at RCTC has allowed me to take on a challenging job straight from graduation, while also setting me up to pursue my dreams of further education.” Deneen said.

HEATHER SIMENSON CLASS OF 2007 Money was a priority for Simenson after high school. More specifically, saving it. “I attended RCTC following high school,” Simenson said. “I chose this route because I wanted to save some money before going to a four-year university and take some classes to see what career I was interested in pursuing. This path worked great for me.” While at RCTC, Heather was able to work in the admissions office and tutoring center. “I enjoyed tutoring because I really got to know and understand the material I was helping other students with, and I was also able to use the tutoring class when calculus became difficult for me,” she said. After earning an associate’s degree, Heather transferred to the University of Minnesota to study in the Neuroscience program. Now she’s the manager of data analytics for VivaQuant, a medical device and software company. “It is a small company, so I do many things, primarily ECG (electrocardiogram) analysis and interpretation,” she explained. Taking science and math at RCTC certainly helped her get to where she currently is. “They (instructors) helped me discover my love for neuroscience, consider science as a career, and provided support when things were really difficult. They truly care about their students.”

VEE WOJTKIEWICZ CLASS OF 2017

“My time at RCTC has been great,” Wojtkiewicz says. “I have met and learned from some amazing professors that truly enjoy teaching. I have had my ups and downs just like any student, but these experiences have made me very humble.” Wojtkiewicz has worked as an LPN in an ambulatory clinic and Mayo Clinic, and is planning on moving into an RN role, “chasing my dreams,” she says. “I’m also a wife and mommy to three amazing children, aged 14 to 3 years old. Mommies can do school, and work, and still raise a family. I have the best support team and my husband is behind me 100 percent, which makes it possible for me. Currently, Wojtkiewicz works in an outpatient clinic at Mayo. “Being an RCTC graduate has given new grads a perk at Mayo Clinic,” she says. “We are very blessed to have clinical and learn from the number one medical hospital. The clinicals at Mayo Clinic can structure new grads into becoming a part of what makes the hospital the best. Some colleges don’t get the exposure to the material, knowledge, and hands-on experience we do as RCTC students. We know the policies and procedures; it gives us RCTC grads a (leg) up when applying for jobs.”

RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018 | PAGE 21


AUTO MECHANIC PROGRAM

instructor for the nationally-accredited

DAVE MACLEOD

FINAL LECTURE

The RCTC Automotive Mechanic program recently received accreditation by the National Automotive Technician Education Foundation (NATEF). The accreditation effort, led by Instructor and Program Leader Dave MacLeod, culminated in the program receiving this specialized recognition last August. This is the first time the program has received this accreditation, which recognizes technician training programs that have met industry standards of excellence. Few collegiate programs earn this level of accreditation. We asked MacLeod questions about what accreditation means for his students, as well as his experiences with the Auto Mechanic program (soon to be known as the Automotive Technician program this fall) and why he loves teaching.

HOW WILL THE NATEF ACCREDITATION BENEFIT STUDENTS?

This accreditation says that our students are better prepared for the industry when they graduate. It makes them more employable, and hopefully they can start at a higher wage. NATEF accreditation is something we’ve been wanting for a long time, and it’s a huge process to go through. We had to go through all of the NATEF curriculum, make sure we covered all of the same topics, and had all of the equipment to teach it accurately, had the facilities and had the cars to work on.

MANY PROGRAMS NEVER RECEIVE THIS ACCREDITATION. WHAT DOES YOUR PROGRAM HAVE THAT OTHERS DON’T?

One of the things NATEF is big on is support from administration. That’s because the industry changes so quickly. We want to have a system in place to upgrade our teaching so that we’re teaching newer and newer stuff all the time. That requires some financial backing from administration. We’re very, very fortunate that the administration at RCTC is very supportive of what we do.

CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTO MECHANIC PROGRAM?

We’re a two-year program, and we literally teach every aspect of automotive repair, with a huge focus on electronics. Virtually every component on the car these days has an electronic connection somehow. We have to focus on that knowledge and make sure that our students can understand the electricity and understand the signals. Automotive PAGE 22 | RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018

technicians are really, in certain aspects, like the IT department at the College here – the wizards that make all our computers talk to one another.

WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN IN THE PROGRAM SINCE YOU STARTED TEACHING?

When I started in 2000, we didn’t have enough students. One of the first things I did was to call potential students to have them come to visit the program. We worked very hard to recruit students, and within four years we had to start a waiting list because we had too many students. We still have a waiting list today, and we’ve had full first-year classes every year for 12 or 13 years now.

YOU WORKED IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY BEFORE BECOMING A TEACHER. WHAT PROMPTED THE CHANGE?

After I graduated from the auto program here in 1977, I was a mechanic for 27 years. I worked with a very good friend of mine, Gary Komaniecki, who teaches (in) the Mayo High School auto shops, and he convinced me to try teaching. He saw something that I didn’t know I had, some ability to communicate. I had never had any inkling to try teaching at all, but the summer of 1999, there was a retirement at RCTC and a retirement at Mayo. His [Komaniecki’s] wife said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if Gary got the high school job,” and I got the RCTC job. We kind of looked at each other and said, “Yeah, that’s never going to happen. ”And then it did! It took a few years to get the hang of things, but it is so much fun working with young people who want to learn. I still enjoy it today.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU GIVE YOUR STUDENTS?

I encourage students to get a job in the industry to gain experience. We can’t teach experience. They have to experience it to learn it, so working in the industry, even if it’s doing detailing or oil changes, or light service work, gets you some necessary skills on how to handle cars, what to look for. The exposure to the vehicles is what they desperately need to learn to know what types of things to look for. A lot of our students start in service bays doing light service work, and then work into the shop positions and become full-time technicians. BY LYDIA HANSEN, ‘18


“WE RUN OUR LABS LIKE A REAL SHOP. THE PROJECTS THAT THE STUDENTS ARE WORKING ON ARE REAL CARS, SO THEY HAVE TO BE RIGHT. WE DO MAKE MISTAKES AND WE LEARN FROM THOSE.”

CONNECT WITH US!

RCTC.EDU 851 30TH AVE SE | ROCHESTER, MN 55904 | 1-800-247-1296

RCTC PROVIDES ACCESSIBLE, AFFORDABLE, QUALITY LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE A DIVERSE AND GROWING COMMUNITY.

A member of Minnesota State RCTC MAGAZINE | SPRING 2018 | PAGE 23


RCTC Magazine Issue 2  

This is the second issue of Rochester Community and Technical College's print publication.

RCTC Magazine Issue 2  

This is the second issue of Rochester Community and Technical College's print publication.