Faculty Spotlight: Harold Torrence

Business Management instructor obtains U.S. citizenship

Harold Torrence, EdD, serves as faculty in the Business Management program at Dakota County Technical College. Originally from Venezuela, a country of nearly 30 million people on the Caribbean Sea in northern South America, Harold recently became a U.S. citizen. He now has dual citizenship with Venezuela and the United States.

“For years, I felt in my heart that I was already a U.S. citizen,” Harold said. “I have been fortunate to make contributions to this wonderful nation by being an educator and by embracing the ideal of the American Dream, which to me means authentically serving our communities with passion and compassion.”

U.S. citizen! Harold with son, Jonathan, and daughter, Susana

“A few years ago, I was able to obtain a work visa, which started my process to move toward obtaining an immigrant visa. Six years ago, I became a U.S. permanent resident, and on March 9, 2020, I celebrated my oath ceremony and became a U.S. citizen.”
Harold Torrence, EdD
Business Management Chair and Faculty
Dakota County Technical College
[Learn more about Harold’s journey to U.S. citizenship by reading the Q & A below.]

Harold began his teaching career at DCTC in April 2005. His areas of focus include:

Harold earned a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) from Hamline University in 2012. He also holds a Masters of Arts (M.A.) in Management and a Master in Public Administration (M.P.A.) from Hamline. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNITEC, or Universidad Tecnológica del Centro. Harold is fluent in both English and Spanish.

Harold brings an extensive background in international business to his teaching position. He has a passion for thoroughly understanding the multicultural dimensions of today’s organizations. He began his career in Venezuela, where he spent several years supporting the consumer sales and marketing departments for a large oil corporation.

In the United States, he spent three years developing an international distribution network with a human resources consulting firm. He sold software, training and consulting products throughout 13 Latin American countries.

In 2009, Harold was named to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota 25 on the Rise, an award that recognizes 25 Latino men and women under the age of 40 from around the state who have contributed immensely to their communities.

In 2016, Harold was named a Minnesota State Board of Trustees Outstanding Educator. The honor is bestowed on Minnesota State colleges and universities faculty to acknowledge and reward exceptional individual professional accomplishment while encouraging ongoing excellence in teaching.

Throughout his tenure at DCTC, Harold has taught the following courses:

  • International Business
  • Managing Diversity
  • Multicultural Mentoring
  • Multicultural Conflict Resolutions
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Management Effectiveness
  • Foundations of Management
  • Quality Management
  • Effective Business Communication
  • Project Management
  • Spanish

More about Business Management at DCTC…

The Business Management program provides working adults with the essential knowledge, skills and abilities to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive business environment.

As a student in the program, you will acquire competencies that can be universally applied to global and local organizations in the profit, nonprofit and public sectors. You can individualize your degree by selecting an emphasis area through the completion of two of the following certificates:


Harold has leveraged his professional business expertise to provide numerous training and consulting solutions to multiple organizations in the nonprofit, for-profit and public sectors, including:

  • Andersen Windows
  • Advanced Wireless
  • Bailey Nurseries
  • LEDC
  • Dakota Electric
  • Gopher Resource
  • City of Woodbury
  • City of Eagan
  • City of Apple Valley
  • Rollx Vans
  • Uponor
  • Youth Link
  • And more…

Along with his teaching duties, Harold chairs the DCTC Faculty Shared Governance Council and the DCTC Equity and Inclusion Council.

Harold Torrence DCTC gallery

More about Harold Torrence…

Born in Valencia, Venezuela, an economic hub in Carabobo State with a population topping 830,000, Harold Torrence, 46, graduated from Colegio San Gabriel Arcángel, a high school in Valencia, in 1991.

Harold has been married 20 years and his wife, Liliana, is a middle school math teacher. Harold and Liliana have two children, Jonathan, 18, and Susana, 13. The family has one dog, a 6-year-old silky terrier named Jazz.

In his free time, Harold pursues his passion for music. He enjoys playing guitar, Venezuelan cuatro, ukulele and other string instruments. He also loves sports, especially soccer, tennis, racquetball and golf.

“I am a Minnesota United fan and a proud United Itasca member,” he said.

Harold resides with his family in Woodbury, Minnesota.

Harold Torrence DCTC News stories

October 2009: “Harold Torrence Joins HCCM 25 on the Rise”
April 2016: “Harold Torrence Named Outstanding Educator”

Harold Torrence Q & A (U.S. citizenship)

Harold Torrence

MSLA Hispanic Heritage Celebration 2017

When and why did you move to the United States from Venezuela?
I moved to the U.S. on April 20, 1999, when Venezuela was transitioning from one of the oldest democracies in Latin America to the political phenomena called Chavismo.

I was awarded a $55,000 Fundayacucho Scholarship from Venezuela to enroll in graduate programs. The opportunity to go to any university around the world was wide open, and I always wanted to study in the United States. In 1998, I attended an event where representatives from 10 U.S. universities came to recruit Venezuelan students. They recognized that students from my country had an excellent academic reputation. I also knew that available scholarship funding was a guarantee of financial support.

At that time, the Hamline University director of international students was Rosi Johnson—and she happened to be Venezuelan. Rosi was very persuasive as well as supportive at that recruitment event. I did not speak English at that time, so Hamline offered a good pathway that included a partnership with the Global Language Institute, where I basically spent three months learning English. In August 1999, I started my Master of Management with barely four months of English lessons.

Why did you apply for U.S. citizenship?
For years, I felt in my heart that I was already a U.S. citizen. I have been fortunate to make contributions to this wonderful nation by being an educator and by embracing the ideal of the American Dream, which to me means authentically serving our communities with passion and compassion.

Minnesota is my home, and my two children were born here. The United States of America is our family’s home, so I want to be able to continue contributing to this wonderful nation while fully participating in our democracy by embracing our right to vote.

How would you describe the 10 General Steps in the Naturalization Process?
This was a very lengthy process because I first came to the U.S. with a nonimmigrant visa as an international student. I was able to get extensions and change status multiple times since I continued my studies at Hamline, earning an M.A. in Management in 2001, an M.P.A. in 2006 and my Ed.D in 2012. A few years ago, I was able to obtain a work visa, which started my process to move toward an immigrant visa. Six years ago, I became a U.S. permanent resident, and on March 9, 2020, I completed my oath ceremony and became a U.S. citizen.

I am not going to lie, this was not only a lengthy, but also a stressful process. The U.S. Immigration process is very complex, and it is very hard to navigate. However, I consider myself very privileged to have had the resources and the support to complete it successfully.

What advice would you give someone applying for U.S. citizenship?
I would say stay positive, be honest, be patient and remain persistent. Every path for citizenship is different, though, and it will depend on so many factors. I would say that every naturalized U.S. citizen has a different story that would be worthwhile learning from. In many cases, the stories are about hard work, dedication, honesty and resiliency.

How has becoming a U.S. citizen affected your relationship to your birth country, Venezuela?
I am actually a dual citizen, so I am both a Venezuelan and United States citizen. However, my full allegiance and fidelity is to our country, the United States of America.

What do you consider the greatest benefit of being a U.S. citizen?
There are so many benefits. The number one honor is having the right to vote and participate on our democracy. I can also serve as an elected official and have an American passport—the latter opens the door to travel to so many countries around the world without getting a visa. The most exciting aspect, the one that makes me most proud, is to simply say that I am a citizen of the United States of America, and I can say “we” when I talk to my students. It is a matter of fully and officially belonging to this nation and embracing the ideal of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Three words that describe you as a college educator:

Harold Torrence Q & A (Teaching)

MSLA Free to Be Me 2017

Why did you choose business education as your career field?
I would say that I did not choose becoming a business educator, but the field chose me. My plan was to continue working as a business development professional, but in 2005 my wife found a DCTC job posting in Customized Training, and she told me that I had to apply; the rest is history. In 2006, I applied for the job of business instructor, and ever since I have enjoyed the beautiful profession of teaching.

What do you like most about teaching college students?
Being a witness to human transformation. I have the joy to seeing students discover their human capacity and embrace their human potential by falling in love with lifelong learning. I hear so many stories that make me so proud.

I actually just got a note yesterday from one of my students via email, and he said:

“I went to DCTC back in 2013–2014, and I’m just reaching out to my old mentors and such, and I want to give a personal thanks to you for influencing me to pursue a career in management and opening my eyes to our multicultural differences.

“Since leaving college in 2015, I decided to pursue the career of firefighter and became one in 2019. I’m loving the job and responsibilities; my goal is to one day make it to the level where I can become part of the outreach program within the fire department and give back to the community by influencing our youth.”

What else can you ask in life but to witness this type of human process? It is simply priceless.

What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in the meaningful and authentic social construction of knowledge, where learners are able to experience self-discovery while finding their own voices. I am a constructivist. I love to see learners interact and help each other unpack knowledge and meaningfully relate back to personal and professional experiences. Our voices in the classroom shaped a learning community that is a safe place for learning and joy.

Why are diversity and multiculturalism so important in higher education?
If you want to be a citizen of the world, you need to understand human diversity and cultural richness. It starts with understanding who you are as a human being and having the desire to embrace your human potential. If you are able to understand yourself well, your own voice, your own story, your overt and implicit biases and your personal challenges, you will be able to understand others better.

The ultimate goal is to become truly interdependent and a full contributor in this world. Culture is the collective programming of the mind; it is the software of the mind. We can become better leaders, better team players, and better professionals if we are capable of reframing and seeing the world through multiple lenses.

It is moving from ethnocentrism to pluralism/multiculturalism; it is about moving from self-centeredness and being other-centered. The reality is that we live in a multicultural world, and so we need to develop multicultural awareness, knowledge, skills and abilities to truly embrace this wonderful challenge.

Higher education must then be a catalyst to gain universal knowledge and foster multicultural transformation; after all, that is why we go to colleges and universities—to gain that universality.

Scott and Harold 2008

“I’ve worked with Harold for more than 15 years, and we developed an instant friendship. We have learned a lot from each other, and I know of his love for Venezuela and the United States. For most of those 15 years, I watched Harold navigate through a complicated bureaucracy to obtain citizenship. The time has finally come!”
Scott Gunderson, MPNA, CM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Business Management Faculty and Advisor
Dakota County Technical College

What business leader do you admire most and why?
I admire business leaders who have attained their dreams, from being an entrepreneur with an excellent business idea to becoming a global leader impacting the whole world. In recent days, I have watched Bill Gates addressing our nation amid the COVID-19 crisis. It is amazing to see one of the wealthiest men in world to pay attention to our global challenges with authenticity and true intentionality.

Today, Bill Gates devotes his life and wealth to finding solutions to global problems. He is one of the most effective and transformational social entrepreneurs of our era, advancing from a business entrepreneur to a social entrepreneur.

What traits do students need to be successful in business?
Business students must have confidence in themselves and the ambition to fulfill their human potential. They have to have the desire and passion to learn and the discipline to not only earn a degree, but to also become leadership and management scholars. This ultimately means to be willing to become a lifelong learner.

What is the greatest challenge for students studying business management?
To break bad habits and embrace a paradigm of personal and professional success. I also wish that all students will advocate for themselves and simply speak up whenever they need help. Many students do this, but I also see students giving up. Please, never give up. In the end, the vast majority of our students are either working for a business or will work for a business, so the challenge is for them to complete their degree and continue climbing the ladder of success and human transformation. The more education you have, the better your opportunities.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I would be 66. I will still be a teacher, and I will be proud of that. I will be writing and connecting with others finding the joy of human transformation. I will continue making contributions to my community; I hope to belong to a beloved-global village, where reconciliation, peace, tolerance and agape prevail.

One word that best describes your teaching experience at DCTC:


Training and Development Managers

Coordinate the training activities for an organization.


This career pays well above the statewide median wage of $20.95/hour


Median: $50.91/hour
High: $68.49/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $54.23/hour
High: $72.21/hour


This career is currently in high demand in Minnesota. This career is seeing high growth compared to other careers. The growth rate is 9.2 percent, which is above the statewide average. There will be a need for about 1,170 new Training and Development Managers to meet market demand between 2018–2028. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

Harold Torrence 12 Answers

Chili Cook Off 2016

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Play golf
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Venezuela
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Getting my doctorate degree
  4. What you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: Find ways to bring more joy to the world.
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: The Good Doctor
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: Yesterday
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: See my children’s happiness
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Venezuelan troupial
  9. Dream occupation: Teaching
  10. Person you would most like to meet: The Dalai Lama
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Being more of a handyman
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Selfishness
Learn more about the Business Management program at DCTC by contacting:

Harold Torrence, EdD
Business Management Faculty
Business Department Chair
DCTC Faculty Shared Governance Council Chair
DCTC Equity and Inclusion Council Chair

Scott Gunderson, MPNA, CM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Business Management Faculty and Advisor

PTK Induction Ceremony 2017: (left to right) Susana, Jonathan, Liliana, Harold (not pictured: Jazz)