Class of 2011 Commencement

330 students walk at Treasure Island Event Center

Dakota County Technical College held the 2011 Commencement Ceremony at the Treasure Island Event Center in Red Wing, Minn. All told, 330 graduates attended, bringing enough family and friends to nearly fill the 30,000-square-foot, 3,000-seat facility.

“We had a tremendous turnout,” said Student Life Director Nicole Meulemans, who coordinated the event. “The Event Center is a beautiful venue.”

Ceremony Highlights

DCTC President Ronald E. Thomas, Ph.D., presided over the ceremony and delivered the welcome and introductions. Later in the program, Thomas conferred degrees and diplomas to the graduates as they walked the stage. Incoming Student Senate President Andy Chernisky led the Pledge of Allegiance. Duane Benson, MnSCU Board of Trustees treasurer, offered greetings from the board. DCTC Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Kelly Murtaugh, Ph.D., recognized honor students and later presented the Class of 2011.


2011 Dave Schroeder Outstanding Student Awards

Bill Eilers, DCTC Faculty Shared Governance Council chair, presented the Dave Schroeder Outstanding Student Awards

Bridgett Willcox

Bridgett Willcox | Dave Schroeder Outstanding Student Award

An amazing DCTC success story, Bridgett Willcox 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. Bridgett is a charter member of the Campus Lions Club and is also active in Phi Theta Kappa.

Adam Koenig

Adam Koenig | Dave Schroeder Outstanding Student Award

  • Major: Graphic Design Technology
  • Nominated by Nicole Meulemans, Student Life Director

A student for all seasons, Adam Koenig maintained a 3.94 GPA while remaining exceptionally active as a student leader on and off campus. As the 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.

2011 Outstanding Alumni Award

Sharon LaComb, DCTC vice president of institutional advancement, presented the Outstanding Alumni Award

Tony Werner

Tony Werner | Outstanding Alumni of the Year

  • Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer  | Comcast

As the chief technology officer at Comcast, Tony Werner holds one of the most critical positions in the cable industry. On a daily basis, Tony makes decisions that influence the direction of a corporation with total assets topping $118 billion. His contributions to his industry have not gone unnoticed. In October of 2010, he was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame during the 20th annual ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Tony Werner’s tireless quest for new ideas and new technology has guided him to the pinnacle of his profession.

DCTC Advocacy Award

Ronald E. Thomas presented the DCTC Advocacy Award

Tom Wyrobek

Tom Wyrobek | DCTC Advocacy Award

  • President and Co-founder of Hysitron, Inc.

A materials research leader on a global scale, Hysitron, Inc., has brought the wonders of nanotechnology to the scientific community since 1992. As Hysitron’s president and founder, Tom Wyrobek excels as a business-oriented and technically astute manufacturer. Tom brings more than 30 years of accumulated knowledge and expertise to the exceptionally promising field of nanotechnology. Highly respected worldwide, he is a proven champion in the advancement of the emerging science of nanomechanical test instruments.

Spirit of DCTC Award

Ronald E. Thomas presented the Spirit of DCTC Award

Bara Arens

Bara Arens | Spirit of DCTC Award

  • DCTC Visual Merchandising and Applied Visual Arts Instructor (1971–2004)

Artist and illustrator Bara Arens understands that teaching is a two-way street. Bara taught visual merchandising and applied visual arts at DCTC for 33 years. After retiring in 2004, Bara set about rekindling her own creative career. Inspired by her heritage—her grandmother was Lakota—and the mystical integrity of the Native American people, she recently completed the first edition of a children’s book series called Crossing Crow Creek. “I’ve learned everything I know from my students,” says Bara. “And through my children’s books, I’ve found a way to continue teaching.”

Commencement Address

Brandon W. Johnson

Brandon W. Johnson | Commencement Speaker

  • Keynote Speaker, Leadership Facilitator Organizational Development Consultant | LifeSkills Center for Business Leadership

Brandon Johnson recently made a powerful impression on 16 DCTC students who participated in a Leadership from the Heart seminar presented by LifeSkills Center for Business Leadership. The two-day experiential workshop was geared to self-discovery, including realizing the power of leading yourself so others will follow. Brandon has always wanted to help people—in any way, shape or form. His advice to everyone he meets is simple: “Love what you do. DO IT! Love who you are. BE IT!”

Class of 2011 Commencement Gallery