Staff Spotlight: Rachel Marzahn

Rachel Marzahn before and after
Rachel Marzahn before and after

Interactive media coordinator donates hair to Children with Hair Loss

Rachel Marzahn, of Lakeville, Minnesota, and her boyfriend, Aaron Tanning, of Minneapolis, were at Lakeville Brewing Co. Saturday morning, June 17, 2017, on a mission to donate their hair to Children with Hair Loss, a Michigan-based national nonprofit that provides human hair replacements at no cost to children and young adults experiencing hair loss due to illness. Rachel donated 16 inches of her locks; Aaron donated 19. Together, they had been growing their hair for 6.5 years.

Rachel works part-time as a server at Lakeville Brewing Co. Her boss, Kate Bruestle, the establishment’s co-owner and a former hair stylist, cut and styled Rachel’s hair. Several other people with uncommonly long hair got haircuts and donated the braided or ponytailed hair during the event.

“We also surpassed our fundraising goal of $1,800, raising nearly $2,500,” Rachel said, noting that $1,800 is the cost of creating one natural hair system. By donating their hair and organizing a fundraiser, Rachel and Aaron sponsored one child who won’t have to wait for additional funding before receiving her or his new wig.

“One wig takes fifteen ponytails to make,” Rachel added. “Children with Hair Loss doesn’t charge recipients for their wigs and they have helped children in all fifty states.”

Children with Hair Loss

Rachel Marzahn hair donation

Watch Facebook video of Rachel and Aaron getting their hair cut.

More about Rachel…

Rachel works full-time in the Marketing department at Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College. Her official job title is interactive media coordinator; her unofficial title is social media maven. She’s also an accomplished photographer and videographer. She joined Marketing in January 2015.

A Farmington High School graduate, Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Communication Studies from Hamline University. She minored in Spanish, Conflict Studies and Nonprofit Management as well as Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and English as a Second Language (ESL). She graduated summa cum laude from Hamline.

Rachel believes in lifelong learning. She has Hootsuite Social Media Marketing and Facebook Ad Blueprint certification and serves as a certified wedding officiant and PREPARE/ENRICH certified facilitator. Anticipating potential opportunities to afford a graduate degree via the Minnesota State system, she would like to pursue a Master of Science (M.S.) in Mass Communication at St. Cloud State University or an M.S. in Technical Communication at Metropolitan State University as soon as possible.

Rachel and Aaron hair donation gallery

When she’s not working for the colleges, Rachel looks after her grandmother, Gladys, as a personal care attendant. She’s a server at Lakeville Brewing Co., the vice president of the Historic Wesley Center in downtown Minneapolis, a construction volunteer for Habitat for Humanity International and a volunteer ESL instructor for ISD 191.

Covering DCTC 2017 PTK Induction

Covering DCTC 2017 PTK Induction

Rachel keeps busy when she’s not working or volunteering. “I enjoy good food/drinks with good company,” she said. “I’m always down for a good game of volleyball or a night of ballroom dancing. Sometime I play bass. Sometimes I breathe fire. Sometimes I take photos. Sometime I just sleep.”

Rachel’s boyfriend, Aaron, is a professional musician. He’s also a worship leader at Crossroads Church and a producer for various artists, including singer/songwriter and comedian, Nick Jester.

Rachel’s mom and dad, Paul and Deb Marzahn, are United Methodist pastors at Crossroads Church. “My dad is working on his Ph.D. and my mother was recently sworn in as a reserve police officer,” Rachel said. “Watching her get tased during her training was a weird experience. My parents are like the Energizer Bunny—they never stop. They take the motto of working hard and serving others so far that they never have time for themselves.”

Rachel has one sister, Rebekah Marzahn Coffman, 27, who lives in Minneapolis with her husband, James, and their son, Bellamy, 3. They recently celebrated their five-year wedding anniversary. Rachel’s brother, Josh, 21, graduated with his Associate of Arts (A.A.) from Inver Hills in 2016. He transferred to the University of Minnesota and is majoring in sustainable studies.

Rachel Marzahn Q & A

Rachel Marzahn

Rachel Marzahn

What are your long-range educational plans?
I am always seeking new knowledge. I will eventually get my master’s degree, but for the time being I enjoy living without the stress of exams and papers. I may dabble in some classes at DCTC for fun. I’m thinking photography and brewing.

What are your duties as a marketing specialist at DCTC and Inver?
I manage the social media accounts and Web presence for both colleges. I also spend much of my time managing photography and video assets, so you may see me on campus with a camera.

What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
Social: For social media, it can be hard sometimes to get people to connect with us. I craft posts and share stories about our schools, but then sometimes they get little traction. I take it as a learning lesson and ask what I can do better next time to see that increase. I am looking for more ways to keep our feeds filled with engaging content that is fun as well as informative about what’s happening on campus. I want to have content that others WANT to read and share. There’s no magic formula. It’s a constant work-in-progress.

Other times our social media channels get undesired attention. When people have complaints they post publicly, or have a question directed at the college, I am just one person responding to all of this. I am happy when I am able to help someone who is genuinely frustrated or seeking answers to questions. I am sad when people troll us because there is no way to appease them.

Video: So much time, coordination, creativity and skill go into making a video. I feel like many people request a video because they like the idea of it, but don’t know how to fully communicate how they want their video to look, or how it fits in their overall campaign, or how they plan to measure project goals. I’ve also had people ask for videos and expect the project completed right away. Every video is a creative collaboration between the videographer and the client. All of this takes time—there’s no way around it.

Social at DCTC

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I enjoy getting to know students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members. So many amazing people are doing great work on our campuses. I find it rewarding to be the one who gets to share their stories online.

What is the most intriguing aspect of your job?
I love running around taking photos. Documenting the fun events on campus and amazing people who work and study here is very rewarding to me. Every photography opportunity brings new challenges—through those challenges I learn and grow as a photographer. Plus, I smile when I see others using a photo that I took, whether it’s on our official bus advertisements or on someone’s Facebook profile.

Fire breathing

Fire breathing

How can the campus community help promote the college via social media?
Engage with us on whatever platform you use—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (dctcblueknights), YouTube, LinkedIn or the DCTC News blog. Follow us. Share our stories. Share your stories with us. When things happen on campus that you want to share, put it on social and tag us. Use our hashtags—#DCTCreal #GoBlueKnights #EducationforEmployment. Who knows? I might share your posts.

The beauty of social media is that it’s not a megaphone of one-way communication; it’s a two-way conversation. Yes, we use social to notify people about upcoming deadlines or campus closures, but it’s also a place to learn about a classmate or read a teacher spotlight, or get a list of events happening on campus, or enter into a contest to win giveaways. Reach out to us and we’ll reach back. Got a question? Message us. Have a cool story? Tag us.

What has been your toughest challenge in life?
That’s tough. I have a few ways I could answer, but I will choose the one most recently at the forefront on of my mind. After college, I chose to move home to be with my grandma, Gladys. She suffers from Alzheimer’s and my parents needed additional help caring for her. I already fear aging, and seeing someone I looked up to growing up lose her mental faculties chills me to the bone.

My grandma is a strong, hard-working, independent woman. I love my grandma, and it’s hard for me to see her frustrated and confused. It’s a constant game of trial and error to find ways to ease the anxiety this illness brings on her. I struggle with wanting to respect her strong-willed, independent spirit while simultaneously seeing her need for codependency increase. It’s weird to shift to a provider role for someone who helped raise me—to parent a grandparent. She can no longer do the grandma things she used to do. No more pot roast or goulash. She can’t cook anymore. No more trips to the farm. She can’t drive. No more stories filled with life lessons. She can’t remember what day it is. But I live for the moments when she remembers my name, or plays hymns, or smiles as she replies, “No, I love you more.” With this disease, the hardest challenges are yet to come. So, I cherish the time I have with her now.

Rachel Marzahn gallery

More Q & A

What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
Graduating suma cum laude from Hamline University. Or being Miss Farmington 2009. It’s a tossup.

What person has influenced you the most in life?
My sister, Rebekah. Our souls and minds are connected in such a way that sometimes we don’t even need words. We can be too much alike that it gets us into trouble, but most of the time I appreciate the example she has set for me. I was jealous of her growing up, but as we aged we became closer friends. She is a strong role model. She reminds me to think about how my choices impact my health and the health of the environment and society. She is the most intelligent person know. Any amount of smart I am is a mere reflection of what I have soaked up from her being in my life.

Three words that describe you as a person:

Should the campus community connect with the college on social?
Yes! I already like you. My advice is to engage with your college. Many people don’t automatically think when they get accepted they should follow their college on Facebook or Twitter. Obviously, I think you should—for three reasons.

  1. It’s a way to know what’s happening on campus even when you aren’t here. It’s a way to get the inside scoop and know about important things in advance. Is tuition due? Is the campus closed? Why didn’t I know about this construction? What’s this I am hearing about a free laptop? When are scholarships due and where to I apply? Chances are if you follow us on Facebook you will know all about this well in advance. We will remind you so there is no confusion.
  2. It’s a place to talk and share with the campus community. Read a story about a student awarded a scholarship. That could be you next semester. Read a story about one of your instructors and learn more about them. And tag us if you have something going on and are active on social. We LOVE to hear your stories. We may share it or even ask to spotlight you on our next DCTC News article.
  3. Be an advocate for your school. You are already an active user so I don’t need to tell you how to use social media. But I will say, since you are already posting, include posts about the college. When all is said in done, you will leave here as an alum with a degree or certificate from our school. Employers look at that and make value judgments on your education. Wouldn’t you want to make the place where you earned your degree look good? I know I would.

Also, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, get one. Now! If you want to work, you’ll need a resume. LinkedIn has an online resume builder. The site also lets you connect with people, past employers, potential employers and your school. (We have a DCTC LinkedIn alumni page…nudge, nudge.) It shows off your skills and qualifications that you have now (or soon will) because you are getting a college education. And guess what? You have us as a reference. Connect with us. You went to school here. You met other students and faculty and staff. Add them to your LinkedIn network. Need a LinkedIn photo? We offer free LinkedIn headshot sessions multiple times a year. Just check with Career Services or the event calendar, or watch for a photo session on Facebook.

What is your favorite social media platform? Why?
It’s hard to pick just one. There are too many to list and each one serves a different purpose. LinkedIn has made resume writing, networking and job searching so much easier. Facebook has expanded beyond just stating if you’re single, making update posts and sharing photos. Facebook lets you do pretty much everything you could imagine—or what its competitors imagined first and Facebook Inc. then modified for its own ever-evolving platform.

Facebook does what other sites still do, including fund-raise like on GoFundMe, sell stuff like on Craigslist, pay your friends like with Venmo, create stories like on Snapchat, promote collaborative events like on Eventbrite or AllEvents and even live-stream 360º video.

But Facebook has a monopoly and knows it. Kudos to Snapchat for giving Facebook a run for their money and instigating fun selfie filter “lenses” and making quick one-to-one or one-to-many disappearing videos all the rave. Instagram is where the party is at now. Plus, I love photos and quirky hashtags so it’s especially fun for me. Although Flickr is nice for sharing photo albums. Reddit is hard on the eyes, but good for the funny bone. iFunny is great to waste time or if you need a good laugh. And then Pinterest is a creative, honey-do-list type of person’s dream. Mock the perfectly picturesque cakes and DIY crafts all you want, but it cannot be denied that this site is great for idea generation, event organization and everything in between. I don’t know how we survived before it.

Rachel Marzahn | 21 Answers

Rachel Marzahn

  1. Favorite season: Fall because of autumn leaves, cozy sweaters, fresh-faced fall semester students, my birthday, and pumpkin spice everything.
  2. Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Mountains. I’ve been to Fuji. Everest is up next!
  3. Three-toed slothFavorite sport or physical activity: I LOVE to dance. Love. Love. Love. (She especially enjoys salsa, swing and ballroom.)
  4. Your national bird if you could have one: Flamingo. They like to stand on one leg.
  5. Place you would most like to visit: This is a tough one. It’s on my bucket list to visit all seven continents and the wonders of the modern world. So far I have been to four continents and one wonder. I would say Antarctica would be next on my list. I want to experience the continent of all-day darkness or all-day light. Plus, I really want to photograph penguins. The only thing stopping me is that Antarctica isn’t the type of place you can just board a Spirit Airlines plane and stay at an Airbnb. I would need to serve a purpose as one of the few humans allowed on the continent. So I’ll have to keep looking for ways to make that happen.
  6. Favorite holiday: Halloween. It’s got costumes, free candy and my birthday—what’s not to love?
  7. Your national mammal if you could have one: Three-toed sloth
  8. Favorite actor or actress: Oh, my. I could answer very differently depending on the criteria used. I would say Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Great power couple. Great actors. Very Biutiful people. I like watching their Spanish-made movies and the amazing roles they play.
  9. Favorite band or performing artist: Flogging Molly.
  10. Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the places you can. To all the people you can. As long as you ever can.” It’s not original, but this motto is a guiding principle for my family and me. Points for anyone who can tell me who is attributed to having said it. HINT.
  11. Gilmore GirlsCoolest thing in the world: Love.
  12. Scariest thing in the world: Death. Or clowns. Okay, death by clowns. Final answer.
  13. Favorite all-time TV show: I hate to admit this, but I will any way. I legit have all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls memorized in English. I almost have it down in Spanish, too. (Thank you subtitles). This is a show I grew up watching. It was a bonding activity for my sister, Rebekah, and me so it means a lot to me. We saw ourselves in the over-caffeinated, brunette, white ladies exchanging witty banter WAY too fast for comfort. I am never not in the mood to watch this show.
  14. Favorite movie genre: Dystopian then comedies to unwind.
  15. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: My bucket list. I’m halfway there.
  16. Most precious material possession: Is this the “If your house were on fire, what is the one thing you would grab?” moment? Assuming all living beings were safe, I would say photos because I can’t get those back. Anything else I would live without or buy new.
  17. First thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: After taxes, I would buy a car. Not a new car, just a newer car than my current 2000 bucket-o-rust. Then I would give a lump sum to all my friends and family. The rest would be split evenly. I would invest half for retirement and with the other half I would set up an endowed scholarship at Inver Hills and DCTC for students pursuing creative and design careers.
  18. Dream occupation: Traveling photographer/photojournalist.
  19. Person you would most like to meet: Shia LaBeouf. I have questions.
  20. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Speaking all languages. Yes, all of them. I’ll settle for Arabic, which is what I am studying at the moment.
  21. Humankind’s greatest challenge: Not being selfish.
To learn more about the Marketing department at DCTC and Inver Hills, contact:

Angela Burns
Marketing Director

To find out how you can submit a marketing project request on JIRA, contact:

Marlo Teal
Marketing Program Manager

Rachel and Aaron after hair donation

Rachel and Aaron after hair donation

Rachel and Aaron as of June 26, 2017

Rachel and Aaron as of June 26, 2017

1 Comment

  • Margaret Steeves says:

    What an amazing story! The author is an excellent writer. Today, on campus I received a wave from a beautiful, confident woman with blonde hair which reminded me of Marilyn Monroe. I waved back and soon found myself walking down the same hallway, so I called out: Excuse me where do I know you from? She smiled and I soon realized it was Rachel Marzahn. She is known to me as DCTC’s Official Photographer to me since I see her at SO many events! She is the cute, adorable woman with a smile on her face ready to help anyone. This was an excellent article which highlighted the beauty in her hair and how she is helping to make the world a better place for so many.

    Great article!
    Margaret Steeves
    DCTC Writers’ Club President
    Student Senate Liason

Comments are closed.