Campus Lions Club Member Honored by MN Vikings

Annette Keenan wins Vikings Jr. Community Quarterback Award

Annette Keenan

Annette Keenan, a student in the Medical Administrative Specialist program at Dakota County Technical College, was honored by the Minnesota Vikings with the Vikings Jr. Community Quarterback Award. By winning the award, which recognizes volunteerism and community service, Annette secured a $1,000 grant for the DCTC Campus Lions Club. She has served as Lions Club secretary for four semesters.

Brett Kolles, an English instructor and Lions Club faculty advisor, reported that Annette Keenan is an exemplary Lion. “Annette has been exceptionally active in our club,” Brett said, “and has contributed to our college and community through her work on our Chili Cook-Off, food shelf drives, the Jeans for Teens campaign and many other projects. She is very deserving of this award.”

For Annette, winning the Vikings Jr. Community Quarterback Award was totally unexpected. “Service is in my nature, but I could not have done what I’ve done without the help of my fellow Lions,” she said. “I hope this award enables them continue their great work while spurring them on to even greater things. I am proud to be a member of DCTC Lions Club.”

About the Vikings Jr. Community Quarterback Award

Vikings Jr. Community Quarterback AwardThe NFL Community Quarterback Award recognizes outstanding volunteers in the 32 NFL markets and awards nearly $1 million to the charitable organizations that they serve. This program honors youth individuals who exemplify leadership, dedication, and a commitment to improving the communities in which they live through volunteerism. — Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

Originally from Stanchfield, a tiny community in central Minnesota near the Wisconsin border, Annette grew up on a dairy farm as the oldest child in a family of seven children, four sisters and three brothers. She enjoyed life in the country, roaming her farm’s 140 acres on her own horse. She graduated from Westview High in nearby Braham and attended Bethel College, taking courses in theatre arts and psychology. She worked behind the scenes in a number of plays and appeared as a maid in a college production of Three Sisters.

Annette discovered her current career path after entering the Dislocated Worker Program at the Dakota County Burnsville WorkForce Center. “They recommended that I get a certificate in customer service, but I had worked in that field for many years and wanted to do something different,” she said. “After looking into DCTC and seeing what programs the college offered, I decided to go back to school in the Medical Administrative Specialist program. I’ve always been interested in the medical field—and it’s been a good match. The instructors are great and encouraging.”

After starting classes at DCTC spring 2012, Annette completed her Medical Receptionist certificate and later her Medical Administrative Specialist diploma. “I will complete my last two classes for my A.A.S. degree in December of this year,” she said. “It’s rather bittersweet; I’ll miss school.”

Annette added that she is making plans to return to DCTC after graduating to earn another degree, an A.A.S. in the Medical Assistant program. “Then I would be able to work the front office or back office at any clinic or hospital,” she said. She’s also not ruling out returning to Bethel to complete her bachelor’s degree.

What’s the best part of belonging to the DCTC Campus Lions Club?

“Wow! I’ve enjoyed it all. I think that one of my favorite memories was the Polar Plunge two years ago. We got Brett [Kolles] and Laura [Gardner] to agree to jump with us. Luckily, it wasn’t very windy that day, but the water was cold just the same. Thank goodness for the hot tub afterwards!”


Annette pointed out that succeeding as a college student is a full-time job. “As a mature learner, I’ve had to relearn how to learn and study,” she said. “My first semester was spent studying all the time. I earned a 4.0 G.P.A. in my courses, but didn’t earn high marks with my husband or dogs. I’ve had to learn to balance home, work and school. I think I’ve gotten the hang of it now in my last semester at DCTC.”

She belongs to Phi Theta Kappa and has made the President’s List since 2012. She also works at DCTC in Student Services as a customer service/enrollment specialist. Her duties include taking phone calls, setting up appointments for students with their advisors, answering financial aid questions, helping potential students with the application process, helping new students get registered for classes and answering questions about StarID.

“I will miss working with the students,” she said. “It’s the best part of the job. I like to help them solve whatever problems they have and have them leave happy—or at least with an answer.”

“I like the adventure of learning, the sense of wonder that goes with it, and challenging myself to succeed. I like group discussion. I like that I have something to share with younger learners. I hope that what I share with them will help them somehow in their professional lives, somehow make it easier for them to succeed and not make the same mistakes that I made.” — Annette Keenan

She has been especially impressed by her DCTC instructors. “They want you to succeed,” she said. “When I’ve been stressed about classes or life, Susan Johansen, Charlotte Kodner and Brett Kolles have been there to give me a pat on the back or a kick in the pants when I’ve needed it. They’ve challenged me and praised me. I hear from younger learners that they’re afraid to talk to their instructors and I ask them why? Never be afraid to talk to them. They want you to be successful.”

Annette is married and lives with her husband, Tom, and their two dogs, George, a 7-year-old silky terrier, and Isabella, aka Izzie, a 6-year-old miniature schnauzer, in Burnsville, Minnesota. She wants a miniature pony—the family has a small backyard, but Tom says it will never happen.

George and Bobo

George and Bobo

George and Bobo

George and Bobo

Annette and Tom are both performers with Clowns Across the River, a nonprofit club based in Apple Valley, Minnesota. As Bobo Dee Clown and Silly, they do various charity events, including the Juvenile Diabetes Walk and Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Walk at the Mall of America, as well as many local parades in the summer.

“Last summer, we were in the Baraboo Circus Parade in Baraboo, Wisconsin,” Annette said. “Circus World Museum brings out their beautifully restored circus wagons. The parade is like ones from the turn of the century when the circus would come to town—complete with live animals. It was very exciting. We stayed at the Golmar House B & B with former Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey circus clowns. It was an incredible experience.”

Annette and Tom have also worked at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival for the past 18 years. They travel with friends and perform at other renaissance festivals around the country. When she’s not attending a renaissance festival or clowning, Annette enjoys cooking, baking, reading and traveling.

“I enjoy quiet time at home or with family and friends,” she said, adding that she likes to sew as both a creative outlet and useful skill. “I want to learn to sew something more than straight lines—I’m good at that!”

To learn more about the DCTC Campus Lions Club, contact:
  • Brett Kolles
    English Instructor
    Campus Lions Club Faculty Advisor

Interior Design Instructor Recognized for Kitchen Designs

Amber Newton at New Spaces wins two Remodeler of Merit Awards (ROMA)

Amber Newton, DCTC Interior Design Instructor

Amber Newton, an adjunct instructor in the Interior Design program at Dakota County Technical College, was the lead designer on two kitchen design projects that won 2014 Remodeler of Merit Awards (ROMA) for New Spaces, a Twin Cities remodeler and home renovation contractor based in Burnsville, Minnesota. Newton’s designs won in two ROMA categories, Kitchens: Under $50,000 and Kitchens: $50,000–$100,000. The awards were presented at the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC) 2014 Building Industry Gala (BIG) Oct. 23 at the Union Depot in St. Paul.

Amber Newton 2014 ROMAThe Remodeler of Merit Awards (ROMA) honor our remodeler members for quality and value in remodeling projects that range from baths, kitchens and additions to whole-house remodels. Professional remodelers judge their peers on creativity in meeting the unique challenges of remodeling, and in successfully meeting the needs, desires, and budgets of their clients. — Courtesy of BATC website

A 1994 graduate of Hastings High School, Newton, 39, earned a B.S. in English from Iowa State University. During her time at Iowa State, she studied abroad in Scotland at Queen Margaret University. After graduating, Newton worked as a marketing analyst at Fingerhut. In 2002, she followed the advice of her best friend and visited the Interior Design program at DCTC.

“I noticed the student project boards on display and was struck that here was something you could do as a job,” Newton said. “Interior design awakened in me a career passion I didn’t know I had.”

She went on to earn an A.A.S. degree in Interior Design from DCTC and served her internship at New Spaces. That opportunity led to her current position as a lead designer. Newton has been with New Spaces for more than 10 years.

“Making spaces beautiful is the easy part.” — Amber Newton, DCTC Interior Design Instructor

In the fall of 2014, Newton returned to DCTC as an adjunct interior design instructor. “I was surprised how comfortable I was with teaching,” she said. “I really, really enjoy it. As an instructor, I want to awaken in my students the same passion I have for interior design.”

Amber Newton resides in Minneapolis with her husband, Randy, an assistant city engineer for Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and their two children, Kate, 7, and Thomas, 4. When she’s not teaching or designing professionally, she loves to cook. One year she made 150 new recipes.

 2014 ROMA: Kitchens: Under $50,000: New Spaces: Mendota Heights
2014 ROMA: Kitchens: $50,000–$100,000: New Spaces: St. Paul

2014 ROMA winning kitchen designFavorite part of life as a professional designer: “I enjoy watching my idea come into reality and the change it brings to families. They can be in the same house and feel like they’ve moved.

Biggest challenge as a professional designer: “Patience. Interior design has so many details. You need to have the patience to know it will all come together in the end.”

Favorite project in her career so far: “The first project I did, an addition and master suite. I was relatively new and felt overwhelmed, but I learned so much and it was a very rewarding project. The St. Paul kitchen I designed for the 2014 ROMA was for that very client.”

Design philosophy: “Design spaces that solve problems, and make life easier and more enjoyable. Making spaces beautiful is the easy part.”

Teaching philosophy: “Teaching is a balance between getting your students the necessary information while keeping it interesting. I want to make connections with my students so that they are inspired to learn more.”

About winning in two 2014 ROMA categories: “It takes a strong team to put together successful projects. My assistant at New Spaces, Jayne Lennon, is a DCTC Interior Design graduate. It’s an honor to be recognized for projects that accomplish client goals and demonstrate your abilities as a designer.”

For more information about Interior Design at DCTC, contact:

Give to the Max Day

Support TuitionMatch-MN

Give to the Max Day

Tuition costs can present a substantial hurdle for low- and middle-income students paying for college. The DCTC Foundation provides a wonderful opportunity to really help students through a 3:1 savings program called TuitionMatch-MN. You can support TuitionMatch-MN on Give to the Max Day, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014.

TuitionMatch-MN participants simply save earned income in a special savings account for up to two years. For every $1 the participant saves, the federal match will contribute an additional $1.50 and your donation will do the same, providing a total of $3 for every $1 saved. Up to $960 of participant savings will be matched. That means for a $960 investment, a participant will have $3,840 in college tuition funds. Participants also receive financial literacy classes, career planning and one-on-one coaching to help them increase their success.

Give to the Max Day: Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, is a special day of giving in Minnesota. Supporting the DCTC Foundation helps TuitionMatch-MN and provides chances for hourly “golden ticket” awards to increase your online gift. Colleges and universities also have chances to increase giving by leading the board at the end of the day.

Your contribution—whether as a friend of the college, faculty member, staff member, retiree, alumnus or alumna, or as a business or company—gives students the chance to advance education and start a career. Every gift makes difference.

Give to the Max Day

For more information about Give to the Max Day, TuitionMatch-MN and the DCTC Foundation, contact:
  • Tharan Leopold
    Executive Director of Foundation and Alumni

Wellness Center Week

Monday, Nov. 17 – Friday, Nov. 21

Wellness Center Week

Dakota County Technical College Student Life presents Wellness Center Week from Monday, Nov. 17, to Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. Participate in Wellness Center Week activities to win prizes. If you work out in the Wellness Center (Room 1-706) for at least 30 minutes in a day during the week, you can enter a drawing for prizes. You can enter the drawing once for each day you complete a 30-minute workout. The drawing for prizes will be held Friday, Nov. 21. Contact Tom Cross, assistant director of student life, for more information.

Wellness Center Week Class Schedule

Wellness Center WeekMonday, Nov. 17, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Instruction on weight training/legs and 5K training program

Tuesday, Nov. 18, noon – 1 p.m.

Wellness@Work, fitness and nutrition presentation, free lunch

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Instruction on core training

Thursday, Nov. 20, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Instruction on upper body and ball training


For more information about Wellness Center Week and Student Life at DCTC, contact:
  • Nicole Meulemans
    Director of Student Life
  • Anna Voight
    Assistant Director of Student Life
  • Tom Cross
    Assistant Director of Student Life
    Head Coach Fastpitch Softball

Military Family Day at DCTC

Afghan War Vet Jason Meszaros speaking Nov. 6

Military Family Day at DCTC

Veterans Day is Tuesday, Nov. 11, and Dakota County Technical College is celebrating the official United States holiday on Military Family Day Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, with a number of events that recognize the service of U.S. Armed Forces veterans. Jason Meszaros, a veteran of the War in Afghanistan, will be a guest speaker that day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Dakota Room on the college’s main campus in Rosemount, Minnesota. The Veterans Club will be hosting a social afterward in the Dakota Room from 1 to 3 p.m.

Katherine Bachman, South Metro Region Higher Education Veterans Program coordinator, reported that service providers will be on campus from 1 to 3 p.m. to assist anyone with questions regarding VA benefits.

As a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, Meszaros was deployed to Afghanistan in 2004. He served eight months on a task force responsible for interrogating captured Taliban and al-Qaeda combatants. Meszaros wrote Interrogation of Morals as an autobiographical account of his experiences during the War in Afghanistan.

Military Family Day at DCTCWHO: Jason Meszaros

WHAT: Motivational and inspirational presentation

WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Military Family Day at DCTCWHERE:

Dakota Room
Main Campus
Dakota County Technical College
1300 145th Street East
Rosemount, MN 55068

For more information about the Veterans Resource Center at DCTC, contact:
  • Katherine Bachman
    South Metro Region Higher Education Veterans Program
For more information about Student Life at DCTC, contact: