2011 Dave Schroeder Outstanding Student Awards
Bridgett Willcox and Adam Koenig personify student success
Each year Dakota County Technical College recognizes outstanding graduates in honor of the college’s former president, Dave Schroeder, who served from 1970–1999. Students are nominated by faculty and staff for their involvement in college initiatives and activities, academic performance and service to the community. This year’s winners are Bridgett Willcox, a 2011 graduate of the Biomedical Equipment Technology program, and Adam Koenig, a 2011 graduate of the Graphic Design Technology program. Their hard work and dedication are an inspiration to their classmates and future DCTC students.
- Major: Biomedical Equipment Technology
- Nominated by Laura Gardner, TRiO/SSS Tutor, and Brett Kolles, English Instructor
- GPA: 3.98
An amazing DCTC success story, Bridgett Willcox, 36, has turned a natural aptitude for electronics into an A.A.S. degree in biomedical equipment technology. Bridgett landed not one, but two internships through the BMET program, one at HealthEast in Maplewood and one at DaVita, a leading kidney care provider in the U.S. She credits much of her success at DCTC to TRiO Student Support Services and her involvement on campus.
Born in Farmington, Minn., but a lifelong resident of Rosemount, Bridgett enrolled in the Animal Care program at DCTC while still in high school. Her long-term goal at that point was to become a veterinarian, but the cost of veterinary medical college proved prohibitively expensive. After graduating from Rosemount High School in 1993, she found that her love for animal care was matched by a knack for all things electronic. She enrolled at NEI and in 1997 earned a degree in Electronic Technology with an emphasis on computer repair.
“I went to work at the New Prague school district as an audiovisual technician,” Bridgett said. “I really enjoyed that job. My main focus was the middle school, but I also went to the high school every day and worked with students doing over-the-air broadcasts.”
Bridgett’s next job took her to Minnetonka Public Schools, where she worked as a computer hardware technician, handling IT responsibilities across the entire school district. From there, she returned to her original interest in animal care. “The vet field was really calling my name,” she said. “Medical care has always been a strong fit for me, human and animal.”
“There are no easy answers. I like that. I like having my mind engaged.” — Bridgett Willcox on biomedical equipment technology
She delved into the field, working as a receptionist, vet tech and assistant manager at a number of veterinary clinics, hospitals and emergency care units. She arrived at the Biomedical Equipment Technology program in 2008 and found a home. She loves problem solving and equates fixing medical equipment to helping animals with medical issues.
“If something is wrong, medical equipment and animals can’t tell you what it is,” Bridgett said. “You have to figure it out yourself. There are no easy answers. I like that. I like having my mind engaged.”
The mother of three daughters, Leah, 9, and twins, Deborah and Caitlin, almost 8, Bridgett is aiming to obtain national certification as a BMET within three years. She is also getting more active in AAMI, or the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, with her long-range goal centered on becoming a manager, but one still involved with hands-on work in the field.
She recommends that students become involved in student and community activities during their college careers. While at DCTC, she became a charter member of the Campus Lions Club and also served as president of the Phi Theta Kappa Beta Theta Tau chapter.
“Joining Lions and PTK made a tremendous difference by teaching me how to network and also giving me more self-confidence,” Bridgett said. “TRiO Student Support Services and my instructors also helped me a lot. My DCTC experience has been wonderful.”
A student for all seasons, Adam Koenig, 27, excelled in his graphic design coursework while remaining exceptionally active as a student leader on and off campus. As president of the Student Senate, Adam took a lead role in a number of key initiatives at DCTC, including the campus-wide tobacco ban and Student Life Center remodel. He advocated for DCTC students at the campus, MnSCU and state levels by participating in Rally Day at the Capitol, consulting on tuition rates, attending monthly MSCSA meetings, and co-chairing the Student Life Budget Committee.
Adam grew up in the country near Rochester, Minn., riding dirt bikes, snowmobiles and go-karts and hunting duck, geese, deer, turkey and pheasants. He graduated from Century High School in Rochester in 2002. At first, he wasn’t interested in college and worked at Sam’s Club and Gander Mountain, but then one day in 2004 he had a eureka moment and realized he wanted to do more with his life. He soon found himself heading for the American Marine Institute in Daytona Beach, Fla., where he enrolled in a program to become a marine mechanic.
“I learned how to fix inboards, outboards, diesel engines and stern drives,” Adam said. “I earned my degree and in the summer of 2005 landed my first job in my new field, but that ended up as a bad experience.”
As it turned out, Adam went to work for a marine repair outfit in Lake City, Minn., but discovered after about a week that things weren’t panning out. “I explained that I was fresh out of college and still had a lot to learn, but the owner was never around and his head mechanic was always down at the docks working on boats,” Adam said. “That meant I was pretty much on my own in the shop with no work direction and no real idea how the owner ran his business.”
“You learn how to network and you meet people from many different programs—not just your own. You get the chance to make not only a difference, but lasting friendships.” —Adam Koenig on campus community involvement
Adam would call the owner when a question came up, which was quite often, but that didn’t go over well. Adam and the shop owner soon parted ways. Happy to be clear of a very stressful situation, but not sure how he wanted to proceed, Adam found himself back at Sam’s Club. Eventually, he made up his mind to go back to college. As luck would have it, he had been driving by one—DCTC—every day on his way to work. He stopped in one day, talked to an advisor and the rest, as they say, is history.
After a brief stint in the BMET program, Adam settled into graphic design technology in the spring of 2009. He also went to work in the college’s Wellness Center. Through that job, he met Student Life Director Nicole Meulemans and then Student Senate President (and later Dave Schroeder Award winner) Jenny Anderson. They convinced him to join Student Senate. He quickly found himself in his element and never looked back.
“Getting involved on campus has many benefits,” Adam said. “You learn how to network and you meet people from many different programs—not just your own. You get the chance to make not only a difference, but lasting friendships.”
Adam’s career goals are focused on graphic design work related to hunting or motorcycles—he’s an avid bow hunter and rides a Suzuki Intruder. His interests also include digital photography, a skill set that is sure to enhance his career as a graphic designer.
For more information about Biomedical Equipment Technology, contact:
- Steve Bezanson
For more information about Graphic Design Technology, contact:
- Mary Belanger
- DeAnn Engvall
Multimedia & Web Design and GDT Instructor
- Connie Larson
- Peter Skoro
M&WD and GDT Instructor
For more information about DCTC Student Life, contact:
- Nicole Meulemans
Student Life Director
- Laura McGlauchlen
Student Life Assistant
For more information about the DCTC Campus Lions Club, contact:
- Brett Kolles
Lions Club Advisor