Alum Knights Newsletter January 2020

College celebrates 50th Anniversary in 2020

50th Anniversary News

Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College were founded in 1970 to meet the educational needs of the growing Twin Cities eastern suburbs. Celebrations for the 50th anniversary started last year at the October Open House. Six prospective students won $500 scholarships to be redeemed in 2020. In early November 2019, 150 staff, faculty, students and alumni volunteers from both institutions took part in a Day of Service, completing 16 campus and area service projects (see below).

The colleges are also hosting Diversity and Equity forums in partnership with the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce. The next forum, Privilege and Trauma, will be held at DCTC February 28, 2020, starting at 7:45 a.m.; the public is welcome to attend.

Looking ahead to spring, the DCTC and Inver Hills foundations, Marketing department, and numerous board members, alumni and retirees have started planning the Joint Anniversary Gala to be held April 23, 2020, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bloomington, Minnesota. This special fundraising event will include a social hour and silent auction followed by plated dinner, live auction and program. Alumni are strongly encouraged to join in the milestone celebration. Invitations will be emailed in March 2020, and alumni are eligible for discounted admission tickets.

Learn more by contacting:

Amy Eppen
Foundation Development Director

Industry Partner Spotlight: Gemini

Jess Bohmbach and Jesse Revland

Top wholesale graphics manufacturer supports Graphic Design Technology

Caitlin Schneider works as a trade show specialist at Gemini, a global leader in the wholesale manufacturing of dimensional letters, logos and plaques. A family-owned company founded in 1963, Gemini is headquartered in Cannon Falls, Minnesota.

In fall 2019, Caitlin and Jerry Kimmes, layout/sales manager at Gemini, visited the campus of Dakota County Technical College and surprised DeAnn Engvall, graphic design technology faculty at the college, with a $5,000 check from Gemini.

“Jerry and I met with DeAnn,” Caitlin said. “She was wonderful to work with—and I could feel her passion for the Graphic Design Technology program. She took the time to give us a tour of the graphic design area, and it was fun to see where this donation money could possibly go.”

Caitlin reported that Gemini relies on talented graphic designers for many aspects of the business. “Gemini has been very fortunate to have multiple graduates from the DCTC program be a part of the layout department,” she said. “The layout department is an important part of the customer experience process at Gemini. The layout artists will assist the customer’s when it comes to their artwork on the signage they are ordering with Gemini.”


Alumnus Spotlight: Pat Francis

Pat Francis

Pat Francis

Original GM ASEP grad owns Country Chevrolet in Annandale

Pat Francis, 53, earned his Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) from Dakota County Technical College in 1986 as a member of the first graduating class of the General Motors Automotive Service Educational Program (GM ASEP). Today, Pat is the franchise owner of Country Chevrolet in Annandale, Minnesota.


Originally from South St. Paul, Pat took on his role at Country Chevrolet in 1992. He has 30+ years of experience selling cars for Chevrolet, an iconic American car company founded in 1911 by Louis Chevrolet, legendary Swiss race car driver, and William C. Durant, U.S. automobile pioneer and GM co-founder.

Pat related that a typical day for him starts at 7 a.m. at his home in Maple Grove, Minnesota, about a 45-minute drive from his dealership. He has coffee with his wife, Nancy, and they discuss what they’re going to do that day.


Day of Service Fall 2019

Day of Service Fall 2019

Day of Service Fall 2019

DCTC and Inver Hills students, staff, faculty and alumni help out on November 1

The colleges partnered to host a Day of Service as a way to give back to community members who have supported the DCTC and Inver Hills missions for 50 years. Community members also took part in the event, which began at 1 p.m. in the Fine Arts building on the Inver campus.

Various service projects took place on both campuses and in area communities. Indoor and outdoor projects were available to accommodate people with different physical abilities.

Examples of service projects included:
  • Packing food at Feed My Starving Children
  • Food shelf cleaning at Neighbors Inc.
  • Litter clean-up in Rosemount
  • Fall Fest at Presbyterian Homes Timber Hills
  • Making cards for U.S. Armed Forces service members
  • Yard clean-up with DARTS

After the two-hour projects were completed, participants joined together at the DCTC Student Life Center for refreshments and networking.

Fast facts…
  • 150 volunteers, including staff, faculty, students and alumni from both campuses
  • 16 projects, including:
    • DARTS
    • Feed My Starving Children
    • Living Well
    • City of Rosemount
    • City of Apple Valley
    • Inver Hills campus buckthorn removal
    • Bikes for Kids
  • Independent Sector is an organization that determines a financial dollar amount for a volunteer hour
    • For 2019, that figure is $25.43
    • Campus communities committed 300 hours of service on November 1, making an economic impact of $7,629
  • 93.88 percent of survey respondents indicated they would like to make this an annual event and a Day of Service Committee is expected to be formed

Day of Service Fall 2019 gallery

View more event photos on the DCTC Flickr album:

Day of Service

Faculty Spotlight: Anne Painter

Architectural Technology instructor directs new Construction Management program

Anne Painter

Anne Painter

Anne Painter heads the Architectural Technology, Construction Management and Interior Design programs at Dakota County Technical College. Anne began teaching at DCTC in the fall of 2014.

Anne earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Interior Design from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. She holds a Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. Anne’s education has given her the opportunity to study in multiple cities in Italy; she also completed internships at various architecture firms in Berlin, Germany.

Her past teaching experience includes serving as faculty at the University of Kansas, Duke University’s TIP program, Rio Salado, The Arts Institute and ITT. Anne has also been a guest reviewer for the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota.


Alumna Spotlight: Cristen High

2003 graduate serves as medical assistant program director at South Central College

Cristen High

Cristen High

Cristen High, MS, CMA (AAMA), AHI (AMT), earned an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in the Medical Assistant program at Dakota County Technical College, graduating in 2003. Cristen participated in Phi Theta Kappa at DCTC and completed her Medical Assistant internship at Allina Health Faribault. She worked in the clinic’s Moderate Complexity Laboratory, performing a range of tasks, including DOT drug screenings and breath alcohol testing.

“I then took a position with Mayo Clinic Health System-EastRidge—ISJ-EastRidge at the time—to open their new clinic,” Cristen said. “I was one of the initial medical assistants hired for the facility. I received the opportunity to train and work in multiple settings such as their lab and X-ray areas as well as the referral, allergy and family medicine departments.”

Cristen went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Healthcare Management from Metropolitan State University in 2013 and a Master of Science (M.S.) in Educational Leadership and Higher Education Administration from Minnesota State University, Moorhead, in 2017. She is working on her doctorate at MSUM.


Student Spotlight: Sylvester Ikebude

GM ASEP major served 27 years in Nigerian Navy

Mark Hickman, Sylvester Ikebude, Tim McCluskey

Mark Hickman, Sylvester Ikebude, Tim McCluskey

Sylvester Ikebude, 50, is a sophomore in the General Motors Automotive Service Education Program (GM ASEP) at Dakota County Technical College. Originally from Ideato South, a Local Government Area (LGA) of Imo State in Nigeria, Sylvester served 27 years in the Nigerian Navy, retiring in 2016 as a lieutenant commander. That same year, he moved to Minnesota to be with his family; his commitment to the navy of his country separated him from his wife and son for 15 years.


Engineering was Sylvester’s specialty in the Nigerian Navy, one of the largest navies on the African continent. He served aboard several ships, visiting ports in countries around the world, including Brazil and England. He spent two years in Naumburg and Aachen, training with the Bundeswehr, the unified armed forces of Germany. His engineering skills have helped him adapt to his new career path as an automotive technician. He understands how machines work.

“My time at DCTC has been very beneficial,” Sylvester said.


Former Faculty Spotlight: Eugene Thurmes

U.S. Navy veteran launches Heavy Equipment Mechanic program in 1974

Joel Fogarty and Eugene Thurmes

Joel Fogarty and Eugene Thurmes

Eugene Thurmes, 87, recently visited the campus of Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minnesota. Eugene met with Joel Fogarty, an instructor in the college’s Heavy Construction Equipment Technology (HCET) program. Eugene and Joel reminisced in the HCET program area.

Eugene came up with the idea to start the program while serving as an instructor in the college’s Truck Trailer Mechanic program—back then DCTC was called Dakota County Area Vocational Technical Institute (DCAVTI). Launched in 1974, the new program was named Heavy Equipment Mechanic. Eugene went on to teach at the college for 20 years, retiring in 1994. As it happens, Joel was one of Eugene students, graduating in 1992.

“Starting the Heavy Equipment Mechanic program was a great deal of work,” Eugene said. “I wrote the curriculum and worked with Bob Jarvi, the institute’s transportation coordinator, to get the program up and running. Dave Schroeder was the school’s director of postsecondary education. He was a great director.”


Hope to Inspire: 3rd Annual Alumni Fund Drive

Ashley Marek

Ashley Marek: 2015 DCTC Alumna

The Alumni Advisory Board kicked off the Hope to Inspire fund drive on December 1, 2019, aiming to raise $7,500 by December 31.  As in recent years, these funds will provide resources for scholarships, emergency grants, books and supplies, equipment and more.

However, this year’s theme was unique—alumni could provide a gift in someone special’s honor. Donors recognized many individuals—favorite instructor, professional mentor or selfless parent—who made a substantial impression on them and positively shaped their lives.

With generous support from Scott Kadrlik, a 1980 accounting graduate and DCTC Foundation treasurer, Ziegler CAT of Bloomington and many kindhearted alumni, the Honor to Inspire fund drive was a success, collecting more than $7,600. Thanks to all those who supported the campaign and provided personal stories of inspiration. Donations can still be made online at:

DCTC Foundation Donation


DCTC Basketball Update

Blue Knights 11–5 as of January 6, 2020

DCTC Blue Knights Basketball 2019-2020

DCTC Blue Knights Basketball 2019–2020

The Dakota County Technical College men’s basketball team is 11–5 as of January 6, 2020. The Blue Knights are averaging 82.2 points, 38.2 rebounds and 15.8 assists per game. Harlyn Owens, sophomore guard, is averaging a team-leading 22.6 points per game. Sophomore forward, Dashawn Walker, is averaging a team-leading 6.8 rebounds per game. Lorenzo Smith, sophomore guard, leads the team in assists with 3.6 per game.

DCTC hosted the DCTC Classic in early January, defeating the Anoka-Ramsey Community College Rams (7–6) in a rematch 101–83. The Blue Knights lost an away game to the Rams 70–82 December 10, 2019. DCTC next played the Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets (11–2), losing 64–79. The Knights defeated RCTC 82–77 in November 2019.

The team’s next home game is Wednesday, January 8, 2020, vs the Bay College Norse (10–6). The game will be played at 7 p.m. in the Activities Building Gym on the campus of Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

Peter Olafeso is in his first year as the team’s interim head coach. Olafeso served as assistant basketball coach during Kelly Boe’s tenure at DCTC. He started his coaching career at Park High School as a freshman and assistant varsity coach.

DCTC vs Iowa Lakes gallery


View more game photos on the DCTC Flickr album:

Blue Knights Basketball vs Iowa Lakes

Learn more about the Alumni Association by contacting:

Amy Eppen
Foundation Development Director
DCTC Alumni Association on Facebook
DCTC Alumni on LinkedIn