Alumna Spotlight: Ellen Behrhorst

Ellen Behrhorst
Ellen Behrhorst

2010 grad earns B.S. at Saint Mary’s and works as HR professional

Ellen Behrhorst, 39, graduated from Dakota County Technical College in 2010 with her Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Supervisory Management and certificates from the HR Development, Multicultural Supervision and Supervisory Leadership programs.

Originally from Fridley, Minnesota, Ellen graduated from Spring Lake Park High School in 1998. She went to work in the mortgage industry and was employed by CountryWide Homes during the subprime mortgage crisis. She enrolled at DCTC in 2008 after deciding she wanted to explore career opportunities in human resources.

“I like working with people,” Ellen said, “and I felt HR was a nice balance between interacting directly with people and working behind the scenes.”

Ellen was very busy while attending DCTC. She was a full-time mom and full-time college student—and she worked full-time as an HR generalist at Health Fitness in Bloomington, Minnesota. She also found time to join Phi Theta Kappa.

Ellen went on to earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Human Resource Management from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in 2011, following the recommendation of her DCTC business management instructors, Scott Gunderson and Harold Torrence. She served for a time on the DCTC Business Advisory Committee.

“Ellen graduated from our Multicultural Supervision and HR Development programs and hit the ground running, obtaining progressive positions in HR ever since,” Scott said. “She exemplifies Talent + Education = Success!”

Career in human resources…

Ellen gained valuable experience at Health Fitness, taking on responsibilities in a number of HR areas, including payroll, benefits, recruiting and employee relations. Today, she works as a corporate recruiter at Liberty Tire Recycling, the premier provider of tire recycling services in North America. Liberty recycles 150 million tires annually while producing 2.2 billion beneficial green products. Ellen is employed at the Liberty location in Savage, Minnesota.

“Over the years, I worked as a human resources generalist with the ability to fill various roles in an HR department,” Ellen said. “I eventually decided to focus my career on recruiting. It’s very rewarding to see people get hired and become very happy in their jobs. As a recruiter, I get to meet a people from many different backgrounds and cultures. I’m a people person.”

More about Ellen…

Ellen’s parents are Korean-Americans who moved to the U.S. from South Korea in the 1970s and became accomplished entrepreneurs. Her father ran a successful shoe repair shop for years; her mother worked for Control Data/Seagate and is now a Korean/English interpreter.

Ellen grew up speaking Korean and visited South Korea during her senior year in high school. She is still conversant in the native language of her parents.

Ellen and her husband, Eric, have been together 17 years. They will be celebrating their 11-year anniversary in May 2019. Eric works as a senior project manager at AT & T.

Ellen and Eric have a 19-year-old daughter, Alexis, a freshman studying business and marketing at Minnesota State University Mankato. They also have a 3.5-year-old son named Everett, who will turn four in May.

“We have one on the way as well,” Ellen said. “He’s due May 28, but we haven’t named him yet.”

The family has two dogs, an English bulldog named Mercedes and a Chihuahua named Bubba. Ellen enjoys cooking and finds the activity therapeutic. She also enjoys being outdoors during the summer and staying active.

“The older I get, the more focused I am on our health,” Ellen said. “So I enjoy working out and eating healthy. While in school at DCTC, I took nineteen credits one semester while training for a full marathon and working full-time. Looking back, this was probably one of my most rewarding accomplishments.”

Ellen and her family reside in Burnsville, Minnesota.

Ellen Behrhorst Q & A

Ellen Behrhorst

Ellen Behrhorst

Why did you choose human resources as your career field?
It’s a very broad field and I am a people-person, so I knew this would be the career field for me. I want employees to be able to go to HR with any hesitation, and that starts with a simple smile and an open-door policy.

How did your education at DCTC help you enter the field?
Since I was taking HR classes, this helped with my everyday responsibilities as an HR generalist at the time. In addition, the instructors were wonderful, and my classmates became family.

What advice would you give students considering human resources as a career path?
I see HR as a role with many levels of responsibilities and it doesn’t matter if you are a manager or non-manager. You are always labeled as “HR,” so you always need to represent. I feel as though your experience and background in HR allows you to move and grow. It’s a rewarding career.

How did earning a Multicultural Supervision certificate help you on the job?
Being in HR, you are dealing with employees of all cultures and backgrounds, so the certificate helped with how you perceive HR as a whole.

Three words that describe you as an HR professional:

What are your most important duties at your workplace?
I’m a recruiter at Liberty Tire Recycling in Savage, Minnesota.  Hiring is one of the most important and challenging roles of HR. I believe there are many important criteria to consider when selecting candidates for a position—and for me, finding the best candidates for roles is one of my most important duties.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging aspect is when you’re not able to find candidates, or you’re not getting enough candidates who are applying for positions. This is where you need to think “out of the box.” Recruiting is not all about hiring, but ensuring the candidate is a cultural fit for the organization.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
It’s rewarding to hear someone say, “Thank you for hiring me and for the opportunity to work for your company.”

Why should DCTC alumni stay engaged with the college?
Staying engaged allows you to remain connected at all levels. In addition, it is opportunities like this where you can express who you are and how DCTC helped you with your education and career.

What person has influenced you the most in life?
My husband, Eric. He has been my rock. Going to school as an adult, you are juggling work and family among all the other adult-related responsibilities. Without his support, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Ellen Behrhorst 21 Answers

  1. Favorite season: Summer
  2. Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Oceans, especially the Pacific off Cabo San Lucas in Baja California Sur
  3. Favorite sport or physical activity: Watching NFL football (she’s a Broncos fan) and playing tennis
  4. Your national bird if you could have one: African grey parrot
  5. Place you would most like to visit: The Bahamas
  6. Favorite holiday: Christmas
  7. Your national mammal if you could have one: Clydesdale draft horse
  8. Favorite actor or actress: Tom Cruise
  9. Favorite band or performing artist: Bruno Mars
  10. Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Life is short—live it.”
  11. Coolest thing in the world: Life of a human being
  12. Scariest thing in the world: Cancer
  13. Favorite all-time TV show: Battlestar Galactica 
  14. Favorite all-time movie: The Notebook
  15. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Live a healthy and happy life
  16. Most valuable material possession: My wedding ring
  17. First thing you would do if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: HIDE. Then hire a financial advisor and a lawyer. Then donate to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
  18. Dream occupation: Working with babies in NICU
  19. Person you would most like to meet: George W. Bush #43
  20. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Learn to play the piano again
  21. Humankind’s greatest challenge: Pollution
Learn more about Business Management and Multicultural Management at DCTC by contacting:

Harold Torrence
Business Management Faculty

Scott Gunderson
Business Management Faculty