Annette Keenan wins Vikings Jr. Community Quarterback Award
Annette Keenan, a student in the Medical Administrative Specialist program at Dakota County Technical College, was honored by the Minnesota Vikings with the Vikings Jr. Community Quarterback Award. By winning the award, which recognizes volunteerism and community service, Annette secured a $1,000 grant for the DCTC Campus Lions Club. She has served as Lions Club secretary for four semesters.
Brett Kolles, an English instructor and Lions Club faculty advisor, reported that Annette Keenan is an exemplary Lion. “Annette has been exceptionally active in our club,” Brett said, “and has contributed to our college and community through her work on our Chili Cook-Off, food shelf drives, the Jeans for Teens campaign and many other projects. She is very deserving of this award.”
For Annette, winning the Vikings Jr. Community Quarterback Award was totally unexpected. “Service is in my nature, but I could not have done what I’ve done without the help of my fellow Lions,” she said. “I hope this award enables them continue their great work while spurring them on to even greater things. I am proud to be a member of DCTC Lions Club.”
About the Vikings Jr. Community Quarterback Award
The NFL Community Quarterback Award recognizes outstanding volunteers in the 32 NFL markets and awards nearly $1 million to the charitable organizations that they serve. This program honors youth individuals who exemplify leadership, dedication, and a commitment to improving the communities in which they live through volunteerism. — Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings
Originally from Stanchfield, a tiny community in central Minnesota near the Wisconsin border, Annette grew up on a dairy farm as the oldest child in a family of seven children, four sisters and three brothers. She enjoyed life in the country, roaming her farm’s 140 acres on her own horse. She graduated from Westview High in nearby Braham and attended Bethel College, taking courses in theatre arts and psychology. She worked behind the scenes in a number of plays and appeared as a maid in a college production of Three Sisters.
Annette discovered her current career path after entering the Dislocated Worker Program at the Dakota County Burnsville WorkForce Center. “They recommended that I get a certificate in customer service, but I had worked in that field for many years and wanted to do something different,” she said. “After looking into DCTC and seeing what programs the college offered, I decided to go back to school in the Medical Administrative Specialist program. I’ve always been interested in the medical field—and it’s been a good match. The instructors are great and encouraging.”
After starting classes at DCTC spring 2012, Annette completed her Medical Receptionist certificate and later her Medical Administrative Specialist diploma. “I will complete my last two classes for my A.A.S. degree in December of this year,” she said. “It’s rather bittersweet; I’ll miss school.”
Annette added that she is making plans to return to DCTC after graduating to earn another degree, an A.A.S. in the Medical Assistant program. “Then I would be able to work the front office or back office at any clinic or hospital,” she said. She’s also not ruling out returning to Bethel to complete her bachelor’s degree.
What’s the best part of belonging to the DCTC Campus Lions Club?
“Wow! I’ve enjoyed it all. I think that one of my favorite memories was the Polar Plunge two years ago. We got Brett [Kolles] and Laura [Gardner] to agree to jump with us. Luckily, it wasn’t very windy that day, but the water was cold just the same. Thank goodness for the hot tub afterwards!”
Annette pointed out that succeeding as a college student is a full-time job. “As a mature learner, I’ve had to relearn how to learn and study,” she said. “My first semester was spent studying all the time. I earned a 4.0 G.P.A. in my courses, but didn’t earn high marks with my husband or dogs. I’ve had to learn to balance home, work and school. I think I’ve gotten the hang of it now in my last semester at DCTC.”
She belongs to Phi Theta Kappa and has made the President’s List since 2012. She also works at DCTC in Student Services as a customer service/enrollment specialist. Her duties include taking phone calls, setting up appointments for students with their advisors, answering financial aid questions, helping potential students with the application process, helping new students get registered for classes and answering questions about StarID.
“I will miss working with the students,” she said. “It’s the best part of the job. I like to help them solve whatever problems they have and have them leave happy—or at least with an answer.”
“I like the adventure of learning, the sense of wonder that goes with it, and challenging myself to succeed. I like group discussion. I like that I have something to share with younger learners. I hope that what I share with them will help them somehow in their professional lives, somehow make it easier for them to succeed and not make the same mistakes that I made.” — Annette Keenan
She has been especially impressed by her DCTC instructors. “They want you to succeed,” she said. “When I’ve been stressed about classes or life, Susan Johansen, Charlotte Kodner and Brett Kolles have been there to give me a pat on the back or a kick in the pants when I’ve needed it. They’ve challenged me and praised me. I hear from younger learners that they’re afraid to talk to their instructors and I ask them why? Never be afraid to talk to them. They want you to be successful.”
Annette is married and lives with her husband, Tom, and their two dogs, George, a 7-year-old silky terrier, and Isabella, aka Izzie, a 6-year-old miniature schnauzer, in Burnsville, Minnesota. She wants a miniature pony—the family has a small backyard, but Tom says it will never happen.
Annette and Tom are both performers with Clowns Across the River, a nonprofit club based in Apple Valley, Minnesota. As Bobo Dee Clown and Silly, they do various charity events, including the Juvenile Diabetes Walk and Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Walk at the Mall of America, as well as many local parades in the summer.
“Last summer, we were in the Baraboo Circus Parade in Baraboo, Wisconsin,” Annette said. “Circus World Museum brings out their beautifully restored circus wagons. The parade is like ones from the turn of the century when the circus would come to town—complete with live animals. It was very exciting. We stayed at the Golmar House B & B with former Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey circus clowns. It was an incredible experience.”
Annette and Tom have also worked at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival for the past 18 years. They travel with friends and perform at other renaissance festivals around the country. When she’s not attending a renaissance festival or clowning, Annette enjoys cooking, baking, reading and traveling.
“I enjoy quiet time at home or with family and friends,” she said, adding that she likes to sew as both a creative outlet and useful skill. “I want to learn to sew something more than straight lines—I’m good at that!”
To learn more about the DCTC Campus Lions Club, contact:
- Brett Kolles
Campus Lions Club Faculty Advisor