Two DCTC Students Honored as Members of All-Minnesota Academic Team

Contessa Smith and Paul Cartwright recognized during celebration at Best Buy Corporate Headquarters.

On Mar. 6, 2008, a celebration to recognize the 2007-2008 All-Minnesota Academic Team was held at Best Buy Corporate Headquarters in Richfield, Minn.

Two students from Dakota County Technical College, Contessa Smith and Paul Cartwright, were honored along with 35 other students from two-year colleges across Minnesota.

Each year, Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges,USA Today and the American Association of Community Colleges sponsor the All-USA Academic Team for community, technical and junior college students. State academic teams were introduced in 1994 to provide scholarships and scholastic recognition to Phi Theta Kappa members. The 37 members of the All-Minnesota Academic Team come from a wide variety of backgrounds and range in age from 18 to 49.

Best Buy, the Minn-Wi-Kota Region of Phi Theta Kappa, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Normandale Community College, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Office of the Chancellor, and Dakota County Technical College serve as sponsors for the Minnesota All-State Academic Team.

To an earn a nomination to the Minnesota team, a student must be enrolled at a Minnesota two-year college and expect to graduate during the 2007-2008 academic year with at least 12 semester credits and a 3.25 grade point average or better.

Nominees are selected based on biographical information, letters of recommendation, academic performance, demonstration of leadership, and campus and community service involvement. Applicants also write an essay describing a specific two-year college experience that transformed their outlook on learning or the future.

Speakers for the program included Dakota County Technical College President Ron Thomas, Inver Hills Community College President Cheryl Frank, Phi Theta Kappa Minn-Wi-Kota Regional Coordinator Linda Tetzlaff, 2007 All-Minnesota Academic Team New Century Scholar Barb Teed, Best Buy University Relations Coordinator Jessica Climmerer, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees Vice Chair Ruth Grendahl, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott Olson, and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Linda Baer.

President Thomas welcomed the students and their families to the event along with faculty and staff from their respective schools. He went on to praise the talent and work ethic of the All-Minnesota Academic Team. “This is what higher education is all about,” he said. “Making sure our students succeed in life and their careers is the essence of what we do.”

Contessa Smith

Contessa Smith

Contessa Smith

Major: Biomedical Equipment Technology
GPA: 3.64
Age: 33
Future Plans: Work as a biomedical technician

Smith is a Chicago transplant who came to Dakota County Technical College after serving in the military. She looks after her husband and five children and serves as the primary caregiver for her grandmother while holding down two part-time jobs. Named to the president’s list for her scholastic achievement, Contessa serves as a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the Student Senate, and as the college’s student legislative advocate. She volunteers in her community through her church and a local elementary school. She enrolled in college undecided about her career, but soon discovered through her coursework and interaction with her instructor that she had an interest in becoming a biomedical technician. Contessa plans to work in the biomed field as she continues her education.

Paul Cartwright

Paul Cartwright

Paul Cartwright

Major: Exercise and Sport Science
GPA: 3.86
Age: 28
Future Plans: Transferring (Undecided)

A South St. Paul native, Paul Cartwright is on track to earn a degree in exercise and sport science. He is currently focused on a career as a physician’s assistant, but remains undecided about his transfer options. Paul has been active in the Student Senate, the Executive Steering Committee, the Investment Club, the Partnership for the Education of Children in Afghanistan and the Veteran’s Center. His dedication to these activities reflects his primary concern for our nation’s future—making education more accessible to all. When not at school, Paul serves as a noncommissioned officer in charge of an Army Reserve operating room. He also works as a tissue recovery technician for a local organ and tissue procurement organization. Consistent with his degree goal, he makes time for running and sailing.