Cinco de Mayo @DCTC

MSLA celebrates historic event plus diversity on campus

The Multicultural Student Leadership Association, or MSLA, celebrated Cinco de Mayo in the Student Life Center at Dakota County Technical College May 5, 2014. The event featured live music provided by Paraguayan harpist, Nicolas Carter, and guitarist, Pedro Torres, as well as a Taco Challenge, virgin margaritas and the chance to meet students from other cultures, student clubs and academic programs. Mario Hernández, vice president of the Latino Economic Development Center, spoke about how the college and Latino communities can collaborate to expand higher education opportunities while advancing diversity on campus.

Miriam Vergara“I think everyone should join MSLA, or at least come to one committee meeting. It’s a great experience. You have a lot of connections, you have a lot of great people who are outgoing and willing to become your friend.” — Miriam Vergara

A date of great importance for the Mexican and Chicano communities, Cinco de Mayo marks the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla. Although the Mexican army was eventually defeated, la Batalla de Puebla came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that the peoples of Mexico and all Latin America were willing to defend their lives and liberty against foreign intervention.

La Batalla de Puebla

La Batalla de Puebla

Cinco de Mayo @DCTC gallery

Harold Torrence
DCTC Supervisory Management Instructor and MSLA Faculty Advisor

Harold Torrence

Harold Torrence

On building multicultural awareness on campus:

“The members of MSLA started with phase one, which is acknowledging the different groups we have here on campus. We want everyone to feel like, “This is our campus; this is our community.” It’s about integration, coming together; it’s not about differences. There are differences to a certain degree, but also similarities and ways to come together to enjoy our heritage. Later on, we will be featuring more of what Minnesota is. The state is still very diverse, but we have come together and we are all Minnesotans now. In the 1900s, many people didn’t speak English as their first language. They spoke German, Norwegian, Swedish, so we also want to involve that part of the heritage. For example, Patrick Lair, the college’s director of student success, speaking on St. Patrick’s Day. It was amazing to see him, one of ours, sharing his heritage. So we came together to celebrate and that’s phase one, just celebration, coming together.

“Phase two is getting deeper into the issues and challenges that everybody has and seeing how we can improve student retention and recruitment. Phase two is about having a place where students from here and all over the world feel like, “I belong and I can learn from the world.” I would say we are in phase one right now, in celebration. We are trying to build what I call a Beloved Community that focuses on equality and integration, mutual respect, honoring one another—and I think we are moving to that phase already.”

Miriam Vergara
DCTC Business Management Major, Student Senate President and Adjunct Member of the DCTC Foundation Board of Directors

Miriam Vergara

Miriam Vergara

On Cinco de Mayo:

“I help out at some MSLA events through planning and attending. The events are really fun; it’s nice getting to see other cultures, the dance, the design. My part was donating the drinks. I also helped with setting up and recruiting people to attend the event. It’s exciting to watch people enjoying the event and experiencing a new culture. A lot of people don’t get to listen to live music so having musicians today, especially the harp, is a good experience. I like having people know about the Latino culture. It’s not independence day for my people, but it’s nice that DCTC is bringing these kinds of events onto campus.

“I’ve seen a lot of good outcomes with other events we’ve had involving other cultures. It’s exciting that we have a diverse group of people who are willing to know more and expand their knowledge. I think everyone should join MSLA, or at least come to one committee meeting. It’s a great experience. You have a lot of connections, you have a lot of great people who are outgoing and willing to become your friend.”

For more information about the Multicultural Student Leadership Association at DCTC, contact:
  • Harold Torrence
    Supervisory Management Instructor and MSLA Faculty Advisor

Health Care Job Boom

Aging population and increasing call for trained personnel drive demand

Health Care TechnicianDakota County Technical College is helping meet the tremendous demand for qualified health care workers through the Health Care Technician program, which provides an efficient and practical pathway into a $2.8 trillion industry that ranks as the fastest-growing economic sector in the country, employing more than 18 million workers. The HCT program offers general education courses that transfer to a four-year college or university as well as professional/technical courses designed to teach the skills required to enter the health care workforce or advance a health care career. The program also prepares students wishing to pursue a future bachelor’s degree in health care.

Elective certifications are a key advantage offered by the Health Care Technician program. Students can graduate with three certificates and have the opportunity to test for the Patient Care Technician/Assistant Certification (CPCT/A) administered by the National Healthcareer Association. Certificates are offered in the following areas:

  • Health Care TechnicianElectrocardiography (EKG) Technician
    • This concentration prepares you to perform diagnostic electrocardiograms at a hospital or other medical facility.
  • Phlebotomy Technician
    • This concentration prepares you to be a specialist in obtaining blood samples at a clinic, hospital, laboratory or other medical facility.
  • Health Care TechnicianNursing Assistant
    • This concentration prepares you to assist dependent clients, home care recipients, and patients with personal care needs.
  • Trained Medication Aide (TMA)
    • This concentration prepares you to dispense patient medications under the supervision of a registered nurse.
  • Health Care TechnicianEMT Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) *
    • This concentration prepares you to provide lifesaving emergency care in a variety of settings.
  • CPCT/ACPCT/A (test preparation)
    • The Certified Patient Care Technician assists doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in providing direct patient care in a variety of health care environments.

* Offered through Inver Hills Community College

“The associate degree is emerging as a prime ticket into the healthcare workforce. Of the 20 fastest growing healthcare occupations that require a college education, 10 are at the associate level, according to data supplied by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI).

“These occupations are projected to account for 806,000 new jobs in the U.S. by 2023. At an average of 28 percent, the growth rate for these technical occupations vastly outpaces projections for the entire U.S. jobs market, which stands to grow 11 percent over the next 10 years.” — Healthcare Finance News

Bachelor’s Degree Pathways
Health Care Technician A.A.S. (60 credits)

Health Care TechnicianMetropolitan State University: Bachelor of Science in Nursing

  • As a graduate of the Health Care Technician program, you can continue coursework along a number of pathways that may include working toward your RN.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota: Bachelor of Science in Allied Healthcare Management

  • As a graduate of the Health Care Technician program, you can transfer seamlessly into this managerial program and complete your bachelor’s degree.
From the U.S. DOL Bureau of Labor Statistics

Registered Nurses

Pay: The median annual wage for registered nurses was $65,470 in May 2012. The top 10 percent earned more than $94,720.

Job Outlook: Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventative care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for healthcare services from the baby boomer population, as they live longer and more active lives.

Jay Reeves, an HCT instructor, spoke about the advantages of enrolling in the program. “The Health Care Technician program offers graduates a broad range of capabilities applicable to a wide spectrum of health care environments,” Reeves said. “Our graduates are ready for jobs in hospitals, physician offices, long-term care facilities and outpatient clinics to name a few. Workers in all sectors of the economy are doing more jobs with fewer resources. An employee with multiple professional competencies represents a value added in terms of human resources. A prospective employee with more than one area of preparation will be a very attractive applicant.”

Student perspectives

Julie Sonen | Health Care Technician Student

Julie Sonen

Julie Sonen
Age: 38
Hometown: Monroe, Wash.
Residence now: Burnsville, Minn.
Program area: Health Care Technician
Degree: A.A.S.

When she graduated from high school in Kaimukī, a residential area in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1994, Julie Sonen was not sure what career path she wished to follow. She had lived in both Hawaii and Washington state, including six months with her grandmother in Seattle, which meant she hadn’t established roots in either location.

“Because I moved around a lot, I found it hard to know what I really wanted to do with my life,” Julie said. She got married in 1998 to an E4 in the U.S. Army and resided at Schofield Barracks, the storied base on Oahu that Japanese warplanes strafed during the attack on Pearl Harbor and that also served as the principal setting for the novel, From Here to Eternity. A year later, she and her husband, Mike, moved to Minnesota to be closer to Mike’s family and start a family of their own.

Before they bought a house and settled in Burnsville, Julie and Mike got see other parts of the state, living in Plymouth, Crystal, and Otsego. Julie continued searching for a career path that made sense. She tried criminal justice at an area college, but was six-months pregnant with her second child, Sean, and the program wasn’t good fit.

“My son needed his mom,” remembered Julie, who also had a 4-year-old daughter at the time.

She found her passion in the health care field when her grandmother (not the one she lived with in Seattle) passed away. “She lived with my parents in Washington for a couple years before she died,” Julie said. “I wanted to be with her. Going into health care is a way to somehow make up for not being able to take care of her.”

Julie pursued Practical Nursing at DCTC before enrolling in the Health Care Technician program fall semester 2013. “My kids were older and I needed to find my place in the world,” she said. “I already have my Certified EKG Technician certificate. I will earn phlebotomy certification this summer and my CNA [Certified Nursing Assistant] next fall.”

Julie will graduate with her A.A.S. degree spring 2015 and plans to start working right away. She would like to use all her certifications in a health care occupation that assists the elderly. As an 8-year-old, she had helped her mom in the craft center of a nursing home, an experience that included adopting a grandfather. “I remember making connections—and that’s what I really want to do in health care,” she said. “I want to make personal connections so that I enrich the lives of the people I care for.”

Today, Julie’s husband, Mike, works as a security administrator. Kaylin is 14 and Sean is 10. The family has two pugs, Toby and Zoey. When she’s not taking care of her family fdor studying, Julie enjoys watching a number of TV shows, including The Walking Dead, True Blood, How I Met Your Mother and The Voice. She also enjoys decorating wedding cakes.

Albert Azinwi Acha | Health Care Technician Student

Albert Azinwi Acha

Albert Azinwi Acha
Age: 36
Hometown: Douala, Cameroon
Residence now: Brooklyn Park, Minn.
Program area: Health Care Technician
Degree: A.A.S.

Albert “Al” Azinwi Acha is originally from Douala, a prosperous port city of 2.5 million in west-central Cameroon, a nation often praised as an “Africa in Miniature” due to its impressive cultural diversity and varied ecospheres, including deserts, mountain ranges, tropical rainforests and savanna lands. After graduating from Mother Teresa, a boarding college and high school in Douala, Al went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University Douala. He worked for a time as a lab technician for a cement company in Douala before deciding to immigrate to the U.S. in 2008 with the aim to advance his education and career.

“I came to the United States to do something different,” Al said. “Job opportunities are not evenly distributed in Cameroon. I like the health care field because I want to work where I can help people.”

Al experienced considerable culture shock when he arrived in Minnesota, but he adapted quickly, taking a number of general education courses at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. He began the Health Care Technician program at DCTC to earn multiple certifications, especially the trained medication aide (TMA) and electrocardiography (EKG) technician, and to gain access to the program’s registered nursing track.

“My plan is to transfer into the RN program at Metropolitan State University after I graduate from DCTC this spring,” Al said. “My goal is to make a career of registered nursing, working in multiple roles in a hospital setting or nursing home.”

Al became a U.S. citizen in 2013 and has already been working in a CNA capacity. He is fluent in three languages, English, French and Bafut, the latter the dialect of his birth tribe in Cameroon. He has been back to Cameroon twice since arriving in the U.S. and is very excited that his wife, Vivian, and his 2-year-old daughter, Alvian (a combination of “Al” and “Vivian”) are moving to Minnesota in July 2014.

Soccer is by far the number one sport in Cameroon—and Al is a huge soccer fan. He plays midfielder for a club in the MINCAM Soccer League, which is composed of clubs from different Cameroonian tribes. He is definitely looking forward to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and plans on watching the Cameroon National Football TeamLes Lions Indomptables, compete on his big-screen TV.

For more information about the Health Care Technician program at DCTC, contact:

Health Care Technician



Truss Day

CET, Nano and Individualized Studies students test bridge models

Bridge Three Collapse

Bridge Three Collapse

Hands-on learning is a proven formula in technical education. Alan Hancock, an instructor in the Civil Engineering Technology program at Dakota County Technical College, collaborated with Larry Stone, a math instructor at the college, to apply that formula in an experiment that not only united their own two disciplines, but also Nanoscience Technology and Individualized Studies.

“The idea was to have teams of students design and construct different types of wood-lathe trusses and then test the tensile strength of their designs,” Alan said. “We had four teams, three from Civil, one from Nano and one from Individualized Studies.”

Larry enjoyed watching the concepts he teaches in trigonometry class employed in the material world. “Well, I thought it was pretty exciting to see students using the technique of truss analysis they learned in trig class,” he said. “One group developed a design [Bridge Four] that broke the all-time record for most weight held—three hundred and sixty pounds! Pretty impressive for a bunch of glued sticks.”

Bridge Four Collapse

Bridge Four Collapse

Larry pointed out that an ounce of math is sometimes worth 10 pounds of insight. He noted that one group mathematically determined that one of their truss members would not support any weight. The group removed the truss member and used the material for extra gusset plates. “Math guiding design,” Larry said. “The stuff of life.”

“It’s also fun that even though everyone was given the same materials and methods of analysis, they all came up with different designs,” he added, “emphasizing that engineering is as much an art as a science. They each had pet ideas they could nurture to reality and then put to the ultimate test. Fun, but also deeply engaging. Hands-on learning at its best.”

Truss Day Bridge Gallery

Student perspectives

Abdul Kamara

Abdul Kamara

Abdul Kamara
Age: 23
Hometown: Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa
Residence now: Eagan, Minn.
Program area: Civil Engineering Technology
Degree: A.A.S.

After graduating from his high school in Freetown in 2008, Abdul Kamara enrolled at Fourah Bay College, the oldest university in West Africa, earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Hearing good things about Minnesota from relatives living in the state, Abdul immigrated to the U.S. in 2012. His uncle suggested enrolling in the CET program at DCTC.

“I like the way my teachers present course materials through lab and field work,” Abdul said. “They are very good at bringing students to a great level of understanding. I also like how students interact with and learn from each other.”

Abdul considers the truss exercise an ideal way to combine trigonometry with the technologies taught in his civil engineering classes. “We learned how to determine the strength of a structure,” he said. “Our group built the strongest truss [Bridge Four], winning at the weight of three hundred and sixty pounds.”

Abdul’s plans for after he graduates from DCTC include attending North Dakota State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Much of his family, including his parents, two brothers and one sister, reside in Freetown. Abdul plays piano in his free time, focusing on gospel and church music.

Preston Finger

Preston Finger

Preston Finger
Age: 20
Hometown: Northfield, Minn.
Residence now: Northfield, Minn.
Program area: Nanoscience Technology
Degree: A.A.S.

A 2012 graduate of Northfield High School, Preston Finger is interested in the materials science and engineering aspects of nanotechnology. Preston likes the idea of working with substances at atomic and molecular levels to create new and unique materials. Nanoscience Technology at DCTC offers him ample opportunities to get hands-on experience working with nanoscale equipment in the program’s lab areas.

“I love the class sizes and how you really get to know your instructors,” he said, adding that the flow of ideas crosses over to his general education courses. “Concepts are connected even in classes that aren’t focused on science. You get to ask questions and throw around your own ideas.”

Preston appreciated the chance to merge mathematics with sound design in the truss exercise. “I really got into it,” he said. “We made multiple designs with multiple calculations, using pyramids and tetrahedrons. We were the only group that tilted in the sides of our structure—and we did very well.”

On track to graduate from DCTC fall 2015, Preston is aiming to earn a bachelor’s degree in an engineering-related program at the University of Minnesota, referencing the Minnesota Nano Center as a definite plus. And he’s not ruling out earning a Ph.D. “I want to an expert in a specific field, but also have a broad range of knowledge,” he said.

A year-round swimmer in high school, Preston competed in the butterfly, freestyle and independent medley. His brother, Tyler, 30, has four children, and his sister, Victoria, 16, attends Northfield High. Taking a page from a philosophy fostered by his parents, Preston has learned how to balance school with recreation, and enjoys hanging out with friends and relaxing.

For more information about Civil Engineering Technology at DCTC, contact:
  • Alan Hancock
    Civil Engineering Technology Instructor
  • Charles Hubbard
    Civil Engineering Technology Instructor
For more information about mathematics courses at DCTC, contact:
For more information about Nanoscience Technology at DCTC, contact:
  • Deb Newberry
    Nanoscience Technology Instructor

Truss Day video courtesy of Curt Smith

True Blue Gala 2014

3rd annual event showcases togetherness in the college community

The DCTC Foundation hosted the 3rd Annual True Blue Gala at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club in Lakeville, Minn., Thursday, April 24, 2014. The event, which was held to raise funds for student scholarships, attracted more than 200 guests and featured a silent auction, a live auction with Auctioneer Brent Lawrence, a Wall of Wine sponsored by Lakeville Liquors, fine dining, live music by DCTC Director of Student Success Patrick Lair, student stories presented by Neil Klein and Tracy Adamson, and a recognition program for four DCTC awardees, Renee Johnson, Maria Olson, Sharon LaComb and Ziegler CAT. Karen Filloon, a DCTC alumna, served as emcee. DCTC Interim President Tim Wynes, J.D., delivered the evening’s closing remarks.

“We are grateful to the sponsors of this year’s True Blue Gala as well as to the many donors who provided items for the silent and live auctions,” said DCTC Foundation Executive Director Tharan Leopold. “Thanks to you the DCTC Foundation continues to help students achieve their academic goals through scholarships.”

True Blue Gala 2014 event photos on Flickr

True Blue Gala 2014Students in the DCTC Visual Communications course, Event Photography, covered the True Blue Gala. Taught by photography instructor, Bill Eilers, Event Photography is an apprentice-style, collaborative course where students plan and take photographs at actual special events and then follow through with the editing and distribution process. Event Photography reinforces many concepts introduced in 1000-level photography courses and is open to students of all disciplines and levels of experience. Along with the True Blue Gala, students will photograph the college’s commencement ceremony at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minn., Friday, May 16, 2014.

Student Photographers at the True Blue Gala:
  • Ron McKeehen
  • Chris Fischbeck
  • Kim Christenson
  • Jessica Wisniewski



SKB Environmental


Ames Construction, Inc. |CHS | Ziegler Cat


Allstate Peterbilt Group | Anchor Bank | Apple Valley Medical Center | Dakota Electric Association | Graphic Design, Inc. | Lakeville Liquors | Smead | Thomson Reuters



  • Bremer Bank
  • Dakota Law, P.L.L.C.
  • Flint Hills Resources
  • Merchant’s Bank, Rosemount
  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
  • State Farm Insurance, Paul Eggen
  • Kerry and Laura Sutherland
  • Think Bank
  • TKDA Twin Cities Power
  • Fraternal Order of Eagles, Farmington


  • Brackett’s Crossing Country Club
  • Castle Rock Bank
  • Jeff Belzer’s Chevrolet Dodge Ram Kia
  • Minnesota Energy Resources
  • Northern Tool & Equipment
  • Pine Bend Paving
  • Uponor
TRUE BLUE GALA 2014 Auction Item Donors | TRUE BLUE GALA 2014 Live Auction Items

The DCTC Foundation
Established in 1983 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the DCTC Foundation is governed by a board of directors with up to 18 members. Since its inception, the Foundation has generated more than $3.2 million in financial assistance for students while building a general endowment fund and establishing private endowment funds.


For low-income individuals saving money for college, the cost of tuition can be a significant hurdle. The DCTC Foundation has an amazing opportunity for you to help students overcome this obstacle, achieve their goals and become self-sufficient. DCTC, along with a consortium of five metro technical and community colleges, is implementing the TuitionMatch-MN program to help low-income working students build their savings to better afford college tuition.

True Blue Gala Student WorkersHow It Works: Federal dollars for the program are secured. Now, we just need matching funds to begin utilizing these dollars and helping prospective students transform their lives with a college education. For every $1 deposited in a savings account by low and middle-income students, TuitionMatch-MN will match with $3 ($1.5 from federal funds and $1.5 from private funds).

Students can save up to $960 toward the match for a total of $3,840 that can be used only for college tuition. Participants of this program will also receive financial literacy classes and career planning to help them increase their success. — Tharan Leopold | Executive Director | DCTC Foundation | 651-423-8293

True Blue Gala Emcee | Karen Filloon

Karen FilloonMany Twin Cities residents remember Karen Filloon from two decades of work on radio and television as a meteorologist for KSTP and WCCO. A 2003 graduate of the DCTC Landscape Horticulture program, Karen stands out as an exemplary alumna. Bringing her passion and aptitude for climate and weather into landscaping, she joined Southview Design in 2008 as a residential landscape designer—and she designs with climate in mind. Karen received a Certificate of Merit Award from the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association, or MNLA in January 2006. Her work for Southview Design covers marketing and business development.

Outstanding Alumni Award | Renee Johnson

The Outstanding Alumni Award recognizes an individual who has shown exceptional leadership, work ethic and dedication as a part of the DCTC community.

Renee JohnsonRenee Johnson came to DCTC in the fall of 1998 to pursue a degree in Graphic Design Technology. Shortly after she began her college career, Renee accepted a student worker position in the college’s Marketing and Communications department. A year later, that position led to a full-time role as a marketing assistant. Renee took on additional responsibilities and eventually began serving as the department’s design specialist. Over the next seven years, Renee provided direct support to the college’s marketing, communication and brand initiatives. In 2010, she earned a B.A. in Marketing Management and Innovation from Concordia University, St. Paul, graduating with distinction. Renee then became director of marketing and communications at the college, serving in that role until November 2013 when she accepted a marketing position with the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, which is much closer to her home in Ellsworth, Wis. DCTC is proud to recognize Renee Johnson as the 2014 Alumni of the Year. Renee was a dedicated and accomplished student and employee who championed the college’s mission on a personal and professional level.

Rising Star Award | Maria Olson

The Rising Star Award recognizes a young alumnus who is making significant contributions to society through professional or philanthropic work.

Maria OlsonMaria Olson is a proud DCTC graduate, earning a Graphic Design Technology A.A.S. degree in 2010. Maria also holds a degree in music education from the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, where she is currently employed as a freelance graphic designer. Her portfolio contains a vast array of materials, including PowerPoint presentations, programs, posters, brochures, postcards and research posters. Since graduating from DCTC, Maria has combined her love of music with graphic design to write, compile and design a book outlining the history and development of the wind band in the United States. She designed an accompanying timeline and is currently working on a series of educational posters featuring prominent wind band conductors and composers. Maria’s plans for the future include production and publication of the materials mentioned above, as well as the development of a website with additional resources for band aficionados. When Maria is not spending time with her beloved MacBook, she is busy playing percussion in a community band and singing in a choir.

Spirit of DCTC Award | Sharon LaComb

The Spirit of DCTC Award recognizes an individual who has contributed selflessly to the college mission while showing boundless support for student success in the classroom and beyond.

Sharon LaCombSharon LaComb served as vice president of DCTC for 25 years until her retirement in September 2011. Sharon was instrumental in the success of the DCTC Foundation and the Continuing Education and Customized Training division. In 2010, Sharon raised more than $1 million for emergency grants for DCTC students. These funds help students overcome financial obstacles they may encounter while achieving their educational goals. Sharon’s role as a leader in Dakota County strengthened the bonds between education, industry and local communities. Her passion for higher education and her continued commitment to the DCTC campus community make Sharon LaComb an excellent choice for the 2014 Spirit of DCTC Award.

DCTC Advocacy Award | Ziegler CAT

The DCTC Advocacy Award recognizes an individual or business that has displayed extraordinary support for the college mission through partnerships, community engagement and the promotion of technical education as a pivotal component in the quest for economic prosperity.

Ziegler CATZiegler CAT, one of the country’s largest and most successful Caterpillar dealers, was founded in 1914 with a simple, yet lasting corporate philosophy: “Sell the best equipment, provide the best service.” The company’s storied history with Caterpillar dates to 1919 when Ziegler became a dealer for the C. L. Best Tractor Co., which absorbed the Holt Tractor Company in 1925 to form Caterpillar. Ziegler represents the full line of Caterpillar construction equipment, generators, and trucks and employs 1,600 people in 21 communities throughout Minnesota and Iowa. Ziegler—since 1914 the commitment stands strong.

For more information about the True Blue Gala and the DCTC Foundation, contact:
  • Tharan Leopold
    Executive Director
    DCTC Foundation
  • Barb Seleski
    Administrative Assistant
    DCTC Foundation

Military Veteran Returns Home to DCTC

Christy McGuffee earning degree in Exercise & Sport Science

by Jessica Bohmbach

For Christy McGuffee (Schottler), 39, DCTC was an easy choice to make when she decided to pursue an education in Exercise & Sport Science. Although she was born in Duluth, Christy grew up in Farmington, Minn., where she and her family currently reside. Along with being local, DCTC has other benefits, including the college’s class offerings and sense of familiarity.

“It feels like home,” said Christy, whose father, Ken Schottler, taught in the automotive department at DCTC for 30 years. Christy took the program herself, graduating with a degree in Automotive Maintenance in 1995. “I’ve been coming here since I was born.”

In addition to her automotive degree, Christy has built an impressive list of educational feats:

  • A A.A. degree from Normandale Community College, where she completed her generals in a program heavy in math and computer programming
  • B.A. in Human Resource Management from Concordia University
  • Avionic electronics and networking, and cryptography from the Community College of the Air Force
  • A.S. in Accounting from South Central College in Faribault, Minn.
  • MBA coursework at Concordia

But Christy’s resume doesn’t end there. After serving two years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force at Edwards AFB in southern California, Christy transferred to the Minnesota Air National Guard; she retired from the MN ANG in March 2014. Throughout her years of service, Christy deployed to various states across the country as well as to Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Puerto Rico and Kuwait.

Christy McGuffee and Sara Woodward

Christy McGuffee and Sara Woodward

Christy’s return to DCTC started in January 2014. Her decision to study Exercise & Sport Science was a personal one. “I buried both my parents before I turned thirty,” she said. She wants to learn more about fitness, health and nutrition, and then pass on that knowledge to her children. This field also makes sense to Christy because one of her daughters has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, affected by nutrition.

Sara Woodward, the college’s Exercise & Sport Science instructor, reported that Christy brings a unique background and skill set to the program. “Christy’s military background has taught her leadership and discipline, and her family life has taught her patience and compassion,” Sara said. “All those skills are important when helping people change health behaviors.”

Sara added that Christy is interested in inspiring others to work through life’s challenges and remember the importance of a healthy lifestyle. “As World War II baby boomers reach their mid- to older-adult years, we will need more high-quality trainers who understand the principles of health and aging,” she said. “Christy’s knowledge and skills will make her an excellent trainer for this population.”

As of now, Christy hasn’t decided whether she wants to complete an A.S. or A.A.S. degree. She’s taking her schooling at a comfortable pace. “I’m just going to take graduation as it goes,” she said. “I have no intentions of speeding through.”

Christy doesn’t have any concrete plans for after she graduates, but she is thinking about going on to get a degree in nutrition to complement what she’s learning at DCTC. “My very lofty dream is to own a fitness center aimed at the average Joe or Jill,” she said. “I don’t want to turn people into fitness models or body builders. I want to focus on health.”

Christy lives with her husband of 10 years, Brent, whom she met at DCTC in 1993. They have two children, Ella, 7, who is a blast and makes life interesting, and Abby, 16, who is heavy into the arts and participates in speech, plays and choir. The family has one dog, Evie, a shepherd/lab mix.

About the authorJessica Bohmbach

Jessica Bohmbach
Age: 27
Hometown: K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base, Mich.
Residence now: Red Wing, Minn.
Program area: Multimedia & Web Design

Jessica Bohmbach grew up in a military family, specifically the U.S. Air Force. She pursued English and German studies at Bemidji State University with plans to become a teacher, but discovered she did not enjoy teaching in large-classroom settings. She continued her education at BSU and is currently finishing up her senior project, a series of publishable essays, on her way to earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing.

Busy raising her son, Dylan, 2, Jessica is on track to graduate from DCTC spring 2015 with her A.A.S. degree in Multimedia & Web Design. Her goal is to write Web content for small businesses while also having the skill set to offer website design services.

For more information about Exercise & Sport Science at DCTC, contact: