Essential Worker Spotlight: Petr Piskun

General maintenance worker brings his best to his job on campus

Petr Piskun, 66, started working in the Operations department at Dakota County Technical College in October 2007. In his role as a general maintenance worker, Petr handles comprehensive custodial tasks in the college’s 185,000-square-foot main building, including vacuuming and polishing floors, trash disposal, and scrubbing, sanitizing and supplying restroom facilities.

Petr takes great pride in his work and strives to make sure campus areas are as clean and orderly as possible for students, staff and faculty. Petr covers the second (afternoon) shift.

Retirement!

Petr Piskun’s first day on the job at DCTC was Thursday, October 11, 2007. Petr will be retiring Tuesday, May 11, 2021, after 13 years and seven months of service.

Congratulations, Petr!

Life in Russia…

Originally from Khabarovsk, a city of 620,000 residents in Russian near the Chinese border at the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri rivers, Petr graduated from high school in Russia in 1972 and went on to earn degrees in road engineering and welding. As a boy, Petr helped his dad take care of the family’s honeybees. In his early 20s, he served in the Soviet military as a mechanical worker.

“Since Russia was a communist country, I had to work as a constructor remodeling and building houses,” Petr said, adding that he was also a woodcrafter who specialized in furniture making. None of those jobs were related to his degrees. He was constantly on the lookout for a better job due to his faith as a practicing Christian.

“Back then it was hard to get a good, decent job as a Christian,” he explained. “Every Christian had to make a decision: Jesus Christ or a degree job. I chose Jesus Christ and that’s why the dream job was not for me. But Jesus never let me down.”

Petr eventually moved to Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked country in Central Asia known officially as the Kyrgyz Republic. He met his wife, Irina, in Kyrgyzstan and all six of their children were born there.

Petr Piskun life gallery


New life in the USA…

In 2001, Petr brought his family to Utah, where he worked at a Goodwill store with Irina while their children were in school.

“We were working in the sorting department,” Petr recalled. “We tried to impress the managers by working really hard—just the two of us doing the work of five people. The managers loved us because we worked so hard. But we realized that they would not pay us more money for our hard work, and we were not going to move to a manager position or any other positions because we had no English.”

Petr related that he then worked for a company that decorated houses and yards with ornamental rocks. “In Utah, if you had your house decorated with beautiful rocks outside, or inside for the fireplace, that meant you were rich,” he said.

What person has influenced you the most in life?
There were a lot of people that have had a good influence on my life. I will just share one from this job. He is Jerry, our manager. Right now at our work, we have peace and workers become much closer to each other. For me, this team became my second family.
Petr Piskun
General Maintenance Worker
Dakota County Technical College

After moving to Minnesota, Petr found work as a house painter. He worked with Russians because he did not speak English and had no time to go to college to get a degree or study English. He felt he was too old to learn English.

“While working as a house painter, all six of my kids were getting their degrees at DCTC,” he said. “During that time, the college had an opening for a maintenance person. We prayed that I would get that job.”

Petr landed the position as a part-time worker, but that was a really hard time for him because he had to work both jobs simultaneously.

“I worked an eight-hour shift at my painting job and then had to go to work at DCTC as maintenance person,” he remembered. “I will never regret that my job here at DCTC will be my last before my retirement.”

Petr Piskun life gallery


Petr’s life beyond DCTC…

Petr and Irina wedding day

In his free time, Petr enjoys fishing and gardening. He and his wife, Irina, will have been married 40 years in August 2021. They have six children, three daughters and three sons, Ivan, 39, Marina, 37, Andre, 36, Roman, 35, Natalya, 33, and Vera, 32. All told, their kids have given them 15 grandchildren with one on the way. Petr and Irina also have one cat named Dimok.

As it turned out, all six of Petr and Irina’s children studied at DCTC:

  • Ivan: Photography (earned his A.A.S. in 2008)
  • Marina: Dental Assistant and Child Development (earned her diplomas in 2007 and 2008)
  • Andre: Studied Architectural Technology
  • Roman: Studied Graphic Design Technology
  • Natalya: Accounting and Business (earned her A.A.S. and A.S. in 2008)
  • Vera: Child Development (earned her diploma in 2008)

Petr, Irina and Dimok reside in Prior Lake, Minnesota.

Two words that best describe your time at DCTC:

SECOND FAMILY

Petr Piskun Q & A

What do you like most about your job at DCTC?

What I like most about my job at DCTC is my manager Jerry [Reuter]. With his coming to the role as manager, our team became a family to me. Jerry is very good manager, and he lets us be ourselves, and appreciates us as who we are.

We are laughing constantly, talking to each other, understanding each other. We have a peaceful environment, and it feels like as I am with my own family. I love to work with my coworkers. And the last thing that I love about my job is money. I would never get that amount of money if I were working somewhere else.

Why did you choose operations as your career field?

I met a friend, and he was working as maintenance person at school, and he told me that it is very “clean” job. Compared to my painting job, it is a clean job, and I don’t have to inhale the paint, and work outside in the winter.

I would always have a job, and it will be warm to work during winter freezing days. I had no English to find a better job. I do not regret that I have spent more than 13 years at DCTC.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your life on the job?

The COVID pandemic impacted our communication style; now we have to wear a mask, and it is hard to see smiles and each other’s facial expressions. It is so hard to know how a person is feeling each day because the face is covered.

Also, there are less people in the building; students are mostly learning online. I don’t see the teachers or students who used to stay that late while we are working.

Words that describe you as an operations professional:
HONESTY. BE PUNCTUAL. DO THE JOB FROM THE HEART.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job?

The challenging part of the job is cleaning the toilets; they have to be spotless, but it’s rewarding when I’m finished and people are happy that they’re nice and clean.

Another challenging thing is my limited English. It’s hard to express my thoughts, but somehow my second family manages to understand me, and we can talk to each other and laugh together.

What is one thing every general maintenance worker needs to know?

Do all with heart like you are doing it for yourself.

What person has influenced you the most in life?

There were a lot of people that have had a good influence on my life. I will just share one from this job. He is Jerry, our manager. Right now at our work, we have peace and workers become much closer to each other. For me, this team became my second family.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

In 20 years, I see my body in graveyard and my soul with Jesus Christ in Heaven, my real home.

Petr Piskun 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Fishing
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Mexico (my money does not go along with my dreams.)
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: 1) Accepted Jesus Christ in my heart 2) My wife did not die when she was dying due to COVID
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: I do not fool my head with false dreams. 🙂
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Latest news
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: I don’t watch movies.
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Get to retirement
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: We don’t have the bird in Russia; we have the bear; in Kyrgyzstan, where I lived since marriage, we have the Sun.
  9. Dream occupation: Every country is different; in Russia, there are limitations in education. Here in the USA, English is a barrier. I make my dream occupation based on real time and real availability.
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Nobody
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: 1) Fixing cars 2) Gardening
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Problem that there is a war between people; as humans, we tend to forget that when we die, there will be a Judgment Day where we will appear in front of ALMIGHTY GOD.
Learn more about Dakota County Technical College by contacting:

Admissions
651-423-8000
Room 2-110

Learn more about the Operations department at DCTC by contacting:

Paul DeMuth
Director of Operations
Dakota County Technical College
Inver Hills Community College
651-423-8370

Piskun family: (left to right) Roman, Andre, Ivan, Petr, Irina, Marina, Natalya, Vera

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