Alumni Spotlight: Emily J. Berge-Emery

Online courses at DCTC bring the classroom to you

Emily J. Berge-Emery

Emily J. Berge-Emery lives in the country with three small children and a husband who manages a farm full-time. According to Emily, when she wanted to continue her education, the options were limited. Then she found Dakota County Technical College and completed the Accounting program entirely online. In May 2012, she graduated with an A.A.S. degree. This is her story:

What brought you to DCTC?

I heard so many good things about DCTC so I explored their program possibilities. I found their Accounting degree, which was offered fully online. The program brought the classroom experience to me, at my home and on my own time, which was priceless. I enrolled at DCTC because they offered me an experience that was otherwise out of my reach.

Many times I did not feel like I was in an online program because the teachers were very good at communicating and providing lectures specifically for online students. My experience at DCTC was amazing. The teachers were encouraging, knowledgeable and understanding. They made you feel like you were in your own personal classroom.

Share a key memory as a DCTC student.

One thing that always stood out to me as a student at DCTC was the enthusiasm that radiated from the instructors as they taught their courses. There were so many occasions where, during recorded lectures, the instructors explained the book information, carried onto real-world experience and then proceeded to tie the information together. It was like a novel that you just couldn’t put down.

What was your favorite course and why?

Cost Accounting I & II were my favorite courses. Learning about the inner financial workings of factories and the different cost aspects was fascinating to me. Patti Weigand, an accounting instructor, did an amazing job of walking through the information with multiple lectures and real-life examples. She answered questions in a timely manner with thorough and understandable responses.

How has your education at DCTC helped you reach your goals?

Coupled with excellent instructors, DCTC’s online Accounting degree program provided a bridge between me and my goal of becoming a CPA. Since I am not able to attend courses in person, my online education at DCTC opened new doors for me. I now find myself inspired and exploring possibilities that were otherwise unobtainable—and I owe it all to DCTC.

What have you done since graduating from DCTC?

After graduating in May 2012, I decided to further my education and pursue an online bachelor’s degree in accounting at a four-year university. The education that I received from DCTC created a solid foundation for my continued education, a foundation of which I am proud and still rely on today.

What can you tell someone about enrolling at DCTC?

If you are looking for a flexible, online accounting program, want a quality education or solid foundation for continuing education, and want to be more than just a number, then DCTC is the right place for you. You will receive a quality education from knowledgeable instructors who are genuinely passionate and excited about the accounting world. Through hands-on practice, relevant coursework, detailed lectures, supporting instructors and an affordable price, you will be well on your way toward new career possibilities.

For more info about the Accounting program at DCTC, contact:

Interior Design Alum Inspires Students

Ryan Goeres spotlights the value of collaboration in a field he loves

Interior Design faculty and students with Ryan Goeres (top right)

Interior Design faculty and students with Ryan Goeres (top right)

Ryan Goeres

Ryan Goeres

Ryan Goeres, 34, graduated in 2005 with an A.A.S. degree from the Interior Design program at Dakota County Technical College. Eight years later, Goeres is a successful interior designer in Washington, D.C., working for WDG, the oldest architecture, master planning and interiors firm in the nation’s capital.

“WDG is a collaborative firm of architects and interior designers,” said Goeres, a native of Morgantown, W.Va. “I work on the interiors side of WDG Architecture. Right now, I’m involved in six projects, three in D.C. and one each in Maryland, Virginia and New York City.”

Photo by Jenn Trezza, WDG Associate Creative Director, Marketing

Goeres returned to DCTC in early May to meet with around 20 students in the Interior Design program. “I was originally scheduled to present for one hour,” he said. “We ended up going for two hours. I showed them my portfolio and gave a presentation on a couple projects I am working on at WDG. We talked about salaries, resumes and what’s expected from an interior designer in the field. The questions just kept coming and coming.”

With a history spanning more than seven decades, WDG, which stands for Weihe Design Group, has a reputation as a firm both prestigious and leading-edge. Ranked as one of the top 100 architectural firms in the world, WDG has 500-plus buildings in its portfolio, comprising 50 million square feet of office space and 40,000 residential units. The firm’s location in Washington, D.C., opened in 1938; another office opened in Dallas, Texas, 60 years later. Great commercial architecture stands out as the WDG hallmark.

WDG Washington, D.C., staff

WDG Washington, D.C., staff

Goeres enjoyed the experience and remembered how as a student he had been inspired by Interior Design alumni who had returned to the college to tell their stories about life as professional interior designers. His own story features a seven-month internship at KKE Architects in Minneapolis following his graduation from DCTC. That internship—a critical aspect of career development in the interior design profession—led to a job as an interior designer at the firm in early 2006. In September 2007, he was promoted and transferred to the KKE of Nevada, located in Las Vegas, where he later accepted the position as a facilities manager at Blue Martini, an upscale hospitality operation with additional locations in Boca Raton, Tampa, Phoenix and Miami to name a few.

“My job at Blue Martini involved overseeing everything from major property improvements to routine maintenance,” Goeres said. “The position was challenging, yet productive—and I welcomed the opportunity. I got the chance to see interior design from another perspective and learned a lot about HVAC, plumbing and electrical. It was a great learning experience.”

Kathy Huus“It’s a pleasure and honor to have alumni like Ryan take the time to share experiences and expertise with our students. His passion about design and his career are inspiring to our students. Ryan’s sincere interest in giving back to education is commendable.” — Katharine Huus, Interior Design Instructor

At WDG Interiors, Goeres works on extremely complex projects as part of a large team that includes architects and other design professionals. A typical project has a number of phases beginning with programming then schematic design and then on to design development, where we present to the client. The design development phase is the favorite part of the process for Goeres, who enjoys the creative piece, but loves the opportunity to wow the client.

“I showed two WDG projects to the students, 460 New York Avenue and 100 K Street,” he said. “The first thing I pointed out is that on projects of this magnitude you don’t go it alone. Interior designers work in a collaborative environment. Teamwork is everything in the design profession.”

Ryan Goeres“Deadlines never, ever change—unless you’re very lucky.” — Ryan Goeres, Interior Designer, WDG Interiors

Photo by Jenn Trezza, WDG Associate Creative Director, Marketing

Drawing up detailed construction documents is the next phase of the project. The completed blueprints are submitted to the relevant civil authorities for the required permits. The project eventually goes out to bid to up to five contractors. All along the way, the work of the interior designer is subject to a symbiotic relationship with other contributions to the project, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing and more. Those relationships often generate abrupt changes and modifications to the interior design plan.

“I told the students that stress is part of the job and they should plan on working long hours and weekends,” Goeres said. “You have to love the work. In the end, from the interior design perspective, the whole point is that your design is not only safe, functional and aesthetically pleasing, but also makes your client happy. It’s a great feeling when the client likes your work.”

Click on the images below to view presentations on the WDG Interiors projects, 100 K Street and 460 New York Avenue.

Mastering computer software essential for designing interiors is another crucial step for success in the field. Sketching, 3D modeling, drafting and rendering are integral to the job. Goeres is proficient in AutoCAD and Revit as well as Photoshop and other Adobe and Microsoft applications. His specialties are centered on commercial interior design, space planning, finish selection and construction documents. His long-range career goals include becoming a senior interior designer, an associate and then a principal at a firm known for taking on great projects. He is also considering the idea of teaching interior design at the college level later in his career. Ryan Goeres resides in Washington, D.C., and, when he’s not juggling interior design projects at WDG, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend of four years, Niki LaFemina.

Anne FarniokRyan’s presentation came at a great time. The end of the semester, as students prepare to graduate and look for employment, can be unsettling. Ryan’s story of his journey in the design industry was affirming to our current students. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of alumni involvement. Student dreams become a reality when they hear alumni success stories during a presentation like Ryan’s. Each fall, Design Connexion, our student organization, hosts an alumni panel. — Anne Farniok, Interior Design Instructor

Ryan Goeres with WDG Interior Designer James Canales

Ryan Goeres with WDG Interior Designer James Canales

Photo by Jenn Trezza, WDG Associate Creative Director, Marketing
Information about the interior design profession

According to ISEEK, Minnesota’s career, education and job resource, employment for interiors designers is expected to grow 19.3 percent in the U.S. and 16.1 percent in Minnesota by the year 2020. ISEEK: “Competition for jobs is expected to be strong. Many talented people are attracted to careers as designers. People with little or no formal training in interior design will find it hard to establish a career.”

Acquiring a solid, industry-driven education in commercial, kitchen and bath, and residential design gives DCTC interior design students a powerful competitive advantage. Ninety percent of the program’s grads find employment in the field.

Salary Data

For more information about Interior Design at DCTC, contact:

2013 VCOM Portfolio Show

Miao “Magic” Li takes Best in Show

2013 VCOM Portfolio Show

The 2013 Visual Communications Portfolio Show was held Tuesday, May 7, on the Rosemount campus of Dakota County Technical College. The year-end exhibition showcases the work of the college’s Applied Visual Arts, Graphic Design Technology, Photography, Photographic Imaging Technology, and Multimedia & Web Design graduates. About 200 people attended the evening event, including students, family members, alumni, representatives from business and industry, and prospective students.

Click image below for 2013 VCOM Portfolio Show program

Thirty-four VCOM graduates exhibited their finest work. Attendees voted on the best exhibits in four categories. See below for winners.

Best in Show: Miao “Magic” Li

Magic Li Portfolio

Magic Li

Magic Li

Graphic Design: Tim Hocum

Timothy Hocum Design

Tim Hocum

Tim Hocum

Multimedia/Web: Ali Plevell

Awesome Pelican Productions

Ali Plevell

Ali Plevell

Photography: Robert Grosse

Robbie G Photography

Robert Grosse

Robert Grosse

Spotlight on Magic Li

Magic Li

Magic Li

Photo courtesy of Keesha Winfrey

Magic Li, 29, of Farmington, Minn., originally hails from Shuibu, a town in the county-level city of Taishan in Guangdong province on the South China Sea in the People’s Republic of China. Magic moved with her family to Minnesota in 2008.

VCOM Portfolio Show: Exhibition Design by Magic Li

VCOM Portfolio Show: Exhibition Design by Magic Li

Magic’s Chinese name is Miao Zhen Li. Her pen name is Magic Early. She picked the latter surname in high school as a tribute to the writer, Lu Xun. She adopted her preferred first name in college in recognition of Cardcaptor Sakura, a popular cartoon series in the magical girl genre by Clamp, an all-female manga artist group.

Conversant in five languages—Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, English and a Chinese dialect she grew up speaking in her hometown, Magic developed a keen interest in computers early in her life. She has a passion for drawing and likes the graphic work in Japanese comics, or manga, including work by Arina Tanemura (Full Moon), Clamp (RG Veda), and Kaori Yuki (Earl Cain).

VCOM Portfolio Show: Exhibition Design by Magic Li

VCOM Portfolio Show: Exhibition Design by Magic Li

Magic majored in English at Wuyi University, a 10,000-student, comprehensive institution in the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong near Hong Kong and Macao. She earned her bachelor’s degree. While at WYU, she also took a number of graphic design courses, including classes on Adobe Photoshop and Flash, Autodesk 3ds Max, and Poser.

After researching her higher education options in Minnesota, Magic chose Dakota County Technical College due to the college’s affordable tuition, proximity to her home and a strong VCOM department. She excelled at DCTC, taking Best Graphic Design Portfolio at the 2012 VCOM Portfolio Show.  She graduated with an A.A.S. degree in Graphic Design Technology in fall 2012. This May, she graduated with a 3.99 GPA and her A.A.S. degree in Multimedia & Web Design. She also has a certificate in Interactive Media Design.

Career-wise, Magic sees herself working as a Web and graphic designer at an agency or company until she has the experience and resume to strike out on her own. She would like to publish books—both print and electronic—on teaching Chinese to native English speakers, creating her own animations and developing an app for mobile devices.

To learn more about Magic Li and her work in 3D modeling and animation, Web design, multimedia design, graphic design, video editing and traditional art, visit the following website:
2013 VCOM Portfolio Show Gallery
Photos courtesy of Keesha Winfrey

For more information about Graphic Design Technology at DCTC, contact:
For more information about Applied Visual Arts at DCTC, contact:
For more information about Multimedia & Web Design at DCTC, contact:
For more information about Photography and Photographic Imaging Technology at DCTC, contact:

DCTC Students Excel at BPA Nationals

Accounting student Tracy Adamson elected BPA national president

DCTC BPA Chapter national competitors

Fifteen students from the Business Professionals of America chapter at Dakota County Technical College made an exceptionally strong showing in the competitive events held at the BPA 2013 National Leadership Conference, “Uncover Your Magic,” May 8–12 in Orlando, Fla. The students qualified to attend the NLC after placing at the BPA State Leadership Conference, which took place in October 2012 in Walker, Minn. Every participating student from DCTC placed in an event at the national level.

Lyle Stelter, an accounting instructor and BPA faculty advisor, has been involved with BPA for more than 20 years. Stelter was impressed by the caliber of students he and Marie Saunders, also an accounting instructor and BPA advisor, brought to Orlando.

“Competing in the Business Professionals of America Workplace Skills Assessment Program changes the lives of students,” Stelter said. “Students prove the competence they have acquired in career programs at the college. Many students don’t realize how much they have learned and how advanced they will be in the workplace. This year—for the first time in my tenure as an advisor—100 percent of our students won a national award.”

Kathryn Lunn, 31, a Legal Administrative Assistant major from Prior Lake, Minn., placed in three competitive events, including a third in Prepared Speech. “The lights and atmosphere during the awards ceremony reminded me of the Academy Awards,” Lunn said. “It was amazing to hear my name called and then seeing my fellow students cheering and shaking their light-up maracas.”

Tracy AdamsonTracy Adamson, an Accounting major, serves as president of the DCTC BPA chapter and recording secretary for the Minnesota Association of Business Professionals College Division. Adamson took her leadership talents to the next level at the NLC when she was elected president of the National Association of Business Professionals College Division. She also took first place in the Entrepreneurship and Presentation Management Team competitive events. She finished fourth out of 450 in the National Merit Scholar Test.

“I am very honored to be elected national president of BPA,” Adamson said. “I am also very proud that everybody from DCTC placed in the top 10 at the national competitions.”

“Tracy shined at the NLC,” said BPA Advisor Stelter. “She has a quiet servant leadership style. Students across the nation realized Tracy is a born leader and the top candidate for the highest student office at the BPA college level.”

For Marie Saunders, the trip to Orlando, represented her first national experience as a first-time BPA advisor. She reported that the DCTC group stayed at the Walt Disney World Dolphin, a resort hotel at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. “I felt a huge sense of pride in our students,” she said. “Winning so many awards is a validation of the education they receive at DCTC. Seeing them up on stage was like watching my kids win.”

DCTC BPA chapter competitor results

  • Tracy Adamson | Accounting major
    • Elected President of the BPA National Association–Postsecondary Division
    • Entrepreneurship: 1st place
    • Presentation Management Team: 1st place
    • National Merit Scholar Test: 4th place (out of 450 contestants)
  • Clay Carlson | Multimedia and Web Design major
    • Fundamentals of Web Design Certification: 1st place
    • Web Site Design Team: 6th place
  • Avgust Evseev |Business Management major
    • Small Business Management Team: 5th place
  • 2013 BPA National Leadership ConferenceMitch Hartke | Accounting major
    • Presentation Management Team: 1st place
    • Managerial Accounting: 5th place
    • Advanced Accounting: 6th place
    • Business Meeting Management: 10th place
  • Christina Halley| Legal Administrative Assistant major
    • Advanced Office Systems and Procedures: 4th place
    • Legal Office Procedures: 8th place
  • Trevor Henderson | Accounting major
    • Small Business Management Team: 5th place
  • Leslie Julius | Accounting major
    • Small Business Management Team: 5th place
    • National Merit Scholar Test: 7th place (out of 450 contestants)
  • Neil Klein | Executive and Administrative Assistant major
    • Presentation Management Team: 1st place
    • Banking and Finance: 4th place
  • Chontae Koonkaew | Accounting major
    • Presentation Management Team: 1st place
  • Kayla Kroll| Accounting major
    • College Payroll Accounting: 8th place
  • Kathryn Lunn | Legal Administrative Assistant major
    • Prepared Speaking: 3rd place
    • Contemporary Issues: 5th place
    • Integrated Office Systems: 7th place
  • Jeffrey Machacek | Software Development major
    • Visual Basic Programming Certification: 1st place
    • Visual Basic Programming: 4th place
    • Web Site Design Team: 6th place
    • Java Programming: 8th place
  • Clement Ngwa | Accounting major
    • Small Business Management Team: 5th place
    • Banking and Finance: 6th place
  • Vadym Snesrud | Accounting major
    • College Accounting: 1st place
Top photo (left to right): Vadym Snesrud, Trevor Henderson, Tracy Adamson, Jeffrey Machacek, Mitch Hartke, Leslie Julius,  Avgust Evseev, Kayla Kroll, Neil Klein, Kathryn Lunn, Clay Carlson, Chontae Koonkaew, Lyle Stelter, Marie Saunders (not pictured: Clement Ngwa and Christina Halley)
Below photo (left to right): Vadym Snesrud, Avgust Evseev, Trevor Henderson, Neil Klein, Marie Saunders, Kayla Kroll, Mitch Hartke, Tracy Adamson, Jeffrey Machacek, Chontae Koonkaew, Clement Ngwa, Kathryn Lunn, Clay Carlson, Christina Halley, Leslie Julius, Lyle Stelter

DCTC BPA Members at BPA Nationals

About Business Professionals of America

Business Professionals of America is the leading CTSO (Career Technical Student Organization) for students pursuing careers in accounting, business management, office administration, information technology and other related career fields.

BPA has more than 51,000 members in more than 2,300 chapters in 23 states. BPA is a co-curricular organization that supports business and information technology educators by offering curriculum based on national standards. The Workplace Skills Assessment Program (WSAP) prepares students to succeed and assesses real-world business skills and problem solving abilities in finance, management, IT and computer applications. WSAP is BPA’s showcase program and facilitates students demonstrating their career skills at regional, state and national conferences.

To learn more about the Accounting program and the BPA student chapter at DCTC, contact:
  • Lyle Stelter
    Accounting Instructor
    BPA Faculty Advisor
  • Marie Saunders
    Accounting Instructor
    BPA Faculty Advisor
To learn more about Office Careers programs at DCTC, contact:
To learn more about Multimedia and Web Design at DCTC, contact:
  • DeAnn Engvall
    Multimedia and Web Design Instructor
  • Peter Skoro
    Multimedia and Web Design Instructor

DCTC BPA Chapter national competitors

DCTC Named MSCSA Star Campus

Student Senate recognized for involvement in statewide student association

DCTC Student Senate

Dakota County Technical College was one of three three-time winners of the Minnesota State College Student Association Star Campus award, which is presented to the most active student senates at colleges belonging to the MSCSA, a Minnesota public two-year college student association. Nine student senates from 47 two-year Minnesota State College and University campuses with MSCSA memberships received Star Campus recognition in 2013.

Student Senate

Student Senate at ARC Blood Drive (pictured with Anna Voight, assistant student life director, and Nicole Meulemans, student life director)

The student senates at Anoka Ramsey Community College–Coon Rapids and Lake Superior College are the other three-time winners of the award. Itasca Community College is a first-time winner; Hennepin Technical College–Brooklyn Park, Normandale Community College, Saint Paul College and South Central College–North Mankato are two-time recipients of the award.

Nicole Meulemans, Student Life director at DCTC, is proud of the college’s student senators and their commitment to the DCTC mission and the work of the MSCSA . “Our Student Senate is exceptionally informed and engaged,” Meulemans said. “They have worked hard to achieve Star Campus status. Future senates will build on their success and carry on the Star Campus tradition.”

Nanci Al-Kordi

Nanci Al-Kordi

Nanci Al-Kordi, a member of the Student Senate and a student ambassador, attended the MSCSA D.C. Summit in March 2013. She participated in an MSCSA Mock Congressional Visit in a winning collaboration with MSCSA members from Rochester Community and Technical College.

“We met with Senator Al Franken and Representative John Kline to practice advocating for students attending two-year colleges,” said Al-Kordi, who is pursuing her A.A.S. degree in the Executive and Administrative Assistant program. “The trip was a wonderful experience.”

Star Campus recognition follows a point-based award system. Points are earned by fulfilling the  criteria listed below. DCTC earned 10.5 out of a possible 13 points.

Star Campus Criteria

Top photo (left to right) Student Senate Treasurer Sergio Garcia, Student Senator Miriam Vergara, Student Ambassador Nanci Al-Kordi, Student Senate Vice President Ben Jackson, Student Senator Vadym Snesrud, Student Senate Secretary Jocelyn Vergara, Student Senator Emma Fisher, Student Senate President Andy Chernisky  
About the MSCSA

A public two-year college student association in Minnesota, the MSCSA works to ensure accessible, quality and affordable public higher education while providing students with representation, leadership development and communication opportunities across the state.

About the DCTC Student Senate

The Student Senate is the official voice of students on campus. The Senate is involved in many decisions made at DCTC, including decisions related to tuition increases, graduation planning and extracurricular activities. The Senate can also initiate projects for improving and enhancing the collegiate experience. Every student on campus is encouraged to participate in the Student Senate.

To learn more about Student Life, the Student Senate or the MSCSA at DCTC, contact: