Student Spotlight: Missy Cross

Missy Cross
Missy Cross

PTK scholar travels to Australia

Melissa “Missy” Cross, 30, is earning her Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in the Medical Coding Specialist program at Dakota County Technical College. In late May 2019, Missy went on a one-week trip to Australia as part of a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society tuition scholarship study-abroad program offered by the International Scholar Laureate Program, or ISLP.

Missy participated as an ISLP delegate with the Delegation on Medicine & Science: Australia. She is a member of the PTK Beta Theta Tau chapter at DCTC.

“The trip was very stressful at first,” Missy said. “I had just finished up finals week and that was only my second time on a plane. That was also my first time out of the country and my first time traveling alone. Once we arrived in Australia everything fell into place.”

“Missy has been an active member of our Phi Theta Kappa chapter! She doesn’t hesitate to volunteer at most events, and she is pursuing a leadership role by an applying for an officer position. Missy knows the value of PTK and has been taking advantage of all the wonderful benefits, such as her trip to Australia!”
Scott R. Gunderson, MPNA, CM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Senior Faculty and Advisor, Business & Management Department
Master Assessor, Credit for Prior Learning

Missy’s first stop was Melbourne, a port city of 5 million residents in the state of Victoria in southeastern Australia. Her group stayed at The Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne.

“We were in Melbourne for three days,” Missy said. “We toured the University of Melbourne and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute.”

She added the best part of her time in Melbourne was when she went on independent exploration adventures. “I walked around the city all three nights I was there,” she said. “There is so much to see and do in Melbourne. I really liked visiting the Queen Victoria Market, which is a huge and amazing farmers’ market.”

Missy’s delegation also spent four days in Sydney, the largest city in Australia and Oceania with 5.2 million residents. They toured the University of New South Wales, the Museum of Human Diseases, the Sydney Opera House and the Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park.

“We stayed at the Hilton Cairns,” Missy said. “The Opera House is so much more wonderful when you get to see what the building is like inside. And I loved the Wildlife Park.”

More about Phi Theta Kappa…

Phi Theta Kappa is recognized as the official honor society for technical and community colleges by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). PTK provides many leadership and civic engagement opportunities for students. To be eligible for membership, you must have completed a minimum of 12 hours of coursework at DCTC with a cumulative GPA of 3.5. Invitations to join the society are mailed to eligible students at the end of each term.


Visit DCTC Phi Theta Kappa on Facebook

Australia gallery

The path to Medical Coding Specialist…

Originally from Owatonna, Minnesota, Missy graduated from Owatonna High School, Class of 2007. She works full-time (40 hours/week) at Collins Aerospace in Burnsville while going to DCTC. She manufactures aircraft sensors that detect ice buildup. She’s a full-time student with a 4.0 GPA and a full-time mom raising two sons.

One reason Missy chose the Medical Coding Specialist program at DCTC is that the A.A.S. degree offers a number of online courses. She started out as a part-time student, but soon found the college offered the flexibility she needed to attend full-time.

“I wanted to do something in the medical field where I could work and still care for my family,” she said. “Medical coding seemed like a good option. Better yet, the more I learned about medical coding the more I loved doing it.”

Missy’s career plans are centered on establishing herself as medical coding professional. She’s also interested in discovering where her new career will lead her.

“Medical coding can branch out into many different career paths,” she said. “I’m open to exploring more opportunities in the healthcare industry.”

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Organize and manage medical data in both paper and electronic systems.


Above the statewide median of $20.07/hour


Median: $22.69/hour
High: $26.89/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $23.22/hour
High: $27.49/hour


This career is currently in high demand and is seeing very high growth compared to other careers. Growth rate is 10.6 percent, or well above the statewide average. There will be a need for about 2,985 new Medical Records and Health Information Technicians to meet market demand between 2016–2026. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

More about Missy…

Missy is married and her husband, Stephen, is an IT desktop support tech at Bailiwick, an IT design, solutions and deployment company in Chaska, Minnesota. Missy and Stephen have two boys, Cale, 11, and Luke, 10. The family has a 6-year-old German shepherd named Shadow.

In her free time, Missy enjoys archery—she competed with the Straight River Archery Club. She is also an avid cross-stitcher with a wide range of subjects, including landscape scenes, wildlife and people.

Missy will be graduating from DCTC in May 2019. She and her family reside in Eagan, Minnesota.

Cross-stitching and archery gallery

More about the Medical Coding Specialist program…

The Medical Coding Specialist program prepares you to assume an entry-level position as a medical coder in an acute-care hospital, clinic or physician’s office. Medical coding specialists play a vital role in the healthcare industry.

You will gain knowledge in electronic health record software systems as well as the legal and managerial aspects of health information. Other duties include:

  • Coding diagnoses
  • Processing reimbursements
  • Managing release of medical information
  • Maintaining quality assurance
  • Protecting patient data privacy

Missy Cross  Q & A

Missy Cross

Missy Cross

What do you like best about Phi Theta Kappa?
The people like Scott Gunderson, our PTK faculty advisor, and Susan Garcia, a DCTC grad who works in Student Life. They genuinely care and are good to be around. I like that.

What did you like best about Australia?
My time in Melbourne was the most memorable. I loved walking around the city on my own, exploring so many interesting places. Melbourne has so much to offer.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What was your most amazing experience in Australia?
I really enjoyed Melbourne, but the Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park near Sydney was the most exciting place I visited. I got to pet a kangaroo and see a koala up close. I also got the chance to see some Tasmanian devils.

What is your learning philosophy?
Make a schedule with days dedicated to each of your classes. Here’s mine:

  • Mondays: Medical Ethics
  • Tuesdays: Medical Billing and Insurance
  • Wednesdays: Finish up Medical Billing and Insurance
  • Thursdays: Advanced Coding
  • Fridays: Buffer day and review
  • Saturdays: More studying, papers and bigger projects
  • Sundays: Free time that includes watching Vikings games

What advice would you give students thinking about going to a technical college?
Stay organized! That’s the one thing that’s getting me through college. Unless I’m organized, I’ll be overwhelmed and lost. You need to stay on top of it.

One word that best describes your experience at DCTC:


Missy Cross 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Archery
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Maui
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: My trip to Australia
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Pay off all my debts 2) Buy a house with land plus some horses and a Saint Bernard puppy 3) Invest for my children
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Grey’s Anatomy
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: Deadpool 2
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Buy my own house
  8. Your national mammal if you were your own country: Grizzly bear
  9. Dream occupation: Radiologist or geneticist
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Robin Williams
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: American Sign Language
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Global warming
Learn more about Phi Theta Kappa at DCTC by contacting:

Becky Egg
College Lab Assistant: Math Tutor

Susan Garcia
Student Life Assistant

Learn more about the Medical Coding Specialist program at DCTC by contacting:

Adrienne Zarn, CPC, CAN-PC
Medical Coding Specialist Faculty