2021 Alumna of the Year: Whitney Bunce

Meeting & Event Management grad working at Sam Houston State University

Whitney Bunce, 28, has been named Dakota County Technical College’s 2021 Alumna of the Year. Whitney graduated from DCTC in 2016 with an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Meeting & Event Management. She also earned a certificate from the program.

“I am truly honored to receive the Alumna of the Year Award,” Whitney said. “I would not be where I am today in my life or career without the amazing programs at DCTC.”

Whitney with Crystal, her friend and boss, at Valleywood Golf Course

Even before graduating from DCTC, Whitney landed a full-time job at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley, Minnesota. She went on to serve as the golf course’s event coordinator for more than six years.

“The Meeting and Event Management program helped me get a paid internship that later turned into a year-round position at Valleywood,” Whitney said. “The courses I took at DCTC helped prepare me for different types of events while providing me with knowledge of industry standards, budgeting, website creation and event design. The Meeting and Event Management program taught me how to run the event center at the golf course and oversee daily food and beverage operations.”

Today, Whitney is serving as an event planning specialist for The Graduate School (TGS) at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Huntsville, Texas. Her duties in this role are remarkably extensive. Her areas of responsibility include:

  • Graduate Student Orientation
  • Three Minute Thesis Competition
  • Teaching Assistant Certification Series (TACS)
  • Graduate Student Appreciation Week and Awards
  • Graduate Student Leadership Organization Initiative
  • Special Events
  • Marketing, Communications and Social Media

Her day-to-day tasks involve creating flyers for all events and happenings around campus. She makes updates on the TGS website and orders virtually everything needed to hold TGS events. She also handles TGS social media—Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“My experience in my program at DCTC equipped me not only for planning and executing events, but also creating and maintaining websites and other necessary skill sets,” Whitney said.

Whitney with SHSU TGS team

Whitney was a highly engaged student at DCTC. She served as the DCTC Lions Club marketing manager and belonged to Phi Theta Kappa (PTK). She was named to the 2016 All-Minnesota Academic Team and attended the recognition event at The College of Saint Benedict in April that year. She recommends that students get involved in extracurricular activities on campus as one of the best ways to serve their school and community.

DCTC Lions Club Chili Cook Off 2016

“Joining student clubs and organizations is also a great way to gain friendships with people who have interests in the same activities,” she said.

Whitney is pursuing her Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (B.A.A.S.) with a minor in Management at SHSU. She is on track to graduate in the summer of 2023.

“I plan to gain skills and knowledge working at SHSU and use those skills to land a job working for a nonprofit in Houston, Texas,” she said.

Brett Kolles: DCTC Faculty perspective

Whitney Bunce’s story has its roots in raw courage and gutsy determination. Growing up in Wyoming and upon graduation from high school and Casper College, Whitney felt her calling was to use her natural organizational talents.

Whitney and Brett

Looking at several colleges and career vocations, and after an interview with former Meeting & Event Management faculty member, Rosealee Lee, she knew her heart was with DCTC.

Whitney packed her bags—even though she did not know a soul here nor had a dorm or other place to live—and came to Rosemount, Minnesota. For a young woman pursuing a new career path, she had an exceptionally high maturity and determination level.

Upon graduation from DCTC, Whitney began her career by accepting a position with Valleywood Golf Course as an event planner, wholly in line with her degree and career aspirations. Her responsibilities included planning events such as weddings, golf tournaments, fundraisers, corporate meetings and Rotary Club breakfasts.

Whitney and Rosealee

From there, Whitney accepted a position as an event planner at Sam Houston State University. Relocating to Huntsville, Texas, was a courageous move, but she believed heartily in following her dream.

Whitney’s responsibilities at SHSU are impressive: planning events for 3,000 graduate students, orientation, Student Appreciation Week, plus a series of smaller events for groups of 75–300 students.

Whitney was then asked to oversee all social media platforms, postings, website maintenance, and created publications for the graduate school. She accepted the additional responsibilities with alacrity. Whitney is thrilled to be working in the field she was trained for, aspired to, and worked diligently to pursue.

Brett Kolles
English Faculty
DCTC Lions Club Advisor
Dakota County Technical College

More about Whitney…

Whitney and Melvin

Originally from Casper, Wyoming, Whitney graduated from Natrona County High School, Class of 2011. She went on to earn an A.S. in General Studies from Casper College. Whitney’s parents, Pete and Joni, reside in Casper. Both Pete and Joni are retired—Pete loves to go fishing in the summer; Joni loves to plant in her garden. Whitney’s brother, Caleb, 31, is in the last year of his electrical apprenticeship before he becomes a foreman electrician.

“I have an 8-year-old terrier mix named Melvin,” Whitney related. “He is part Boston terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Australian cattle dog, and Australian shepherd. Melvin is the cutest dog there ever was!”

In her free time, Whitney enjoys volunteering at the local animal shelter, laying by the pool and hiking with Melvin. She resides in Huntsville, Texas.

Whitney Bunce gallery


Whitney Bunce Q & A

Why did you choose meeting and event management as your career path?

I chose meeting and event management as a career path because I wanted to do something that was different every day and allowed me to be creative and work with people to make visions come to life.

What do you find most interesting about planning and managing events?

The most interesting thing about planning and managing events is the trends that come and go. This makes it exciting because you get to be innovative and think outside the box. For example, drive-in movies used to be very popular and now that is a trend that is coming back, and people are loving it!

What is the most challenging aspect of your job as a meeting and event manager?

The most challenging aspect of being a meeting and event manager is finding new/different ways to save money in the budget and ensuring you allocate the correct amounts to each area of each event.

Three words that describe you as a meeting and event management professional:
INVENTIVE. DETERMINED. ADAPTIVE.
What advice would you give students thinking about majoring in meeting an event management?

I would tell students to never give up on your dreams and keep pushing to accomplish everything you want professionally and personally. I never thought I would be where I am today, but I am so thankful I never gave up and kept pursuing my goals even when it got difficult.

What event project stands out as your most challenging and rewarding?

The most challenging and rewarding event project would be Graduate Student Appreciation Week which includes two events every day (10 total), and they range from academic events to extracurricular events.

What is one thing every meeting and event management professional needs to know?

One thing planning professionals need to know is that you will have events that will fail or not be as successful as you had hoped. It is important to learn from mistakes and tackle every event or new project head on to be the best you can be.

What person has influenced you the most in life and why?

Grandma Luella

The people that most influenced my life are my grandmother, Luella, and my grandmother, June. Luella grew up in South Dakota, but left home to get her master’s degree from the University of Denver and later had a very successful teaching career of 38 years. She truly showed that even with a family you can follow your dreams and accomplish everything you want to in life.

June married young and had five children, but that didn’t stop her from creating new business ventures and getting exactly what she wanted out of life. She had a successful restaurant for many years in California and then she and my grandfather opened a skating rink, which they owned and operated for a few years after that. She showed that she could do anything she set her mind to and you can be successful in a business and have a family at the same time.

Grandma June and Grandpa Sunny

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

I see myself married with a couple children and two dogs. I see myself working for a nonprofit company that I love and helping those who need it most.

One word that best describes your experience at DCTC:

UNFORGETTABLE

Whitney Bunce 12 ANSWERS

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Playing volleyball or hiking
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Australia
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Hiked the Alps in Switzerland
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Pay all bills and loans for family and friends 2) Buy a vacation home in the Maldives 3) Donate money to animal shelters
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Ratched and You
  6. Time period you would explore if you could time travel: The 50’s
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: I want to start a nonprofit that helps homeless animals and find them forever homes
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Cardinal
  9. Dream occupation: Stay-at-home dog mom
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Princess Diana or Walt Disney
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Cooking
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Clean water supplies around the world
Learn more about the Alumni Association at DCTC by contacting:

Amy Eppen
Foundation Development Director
651-423-8265

Learn more about Dakota County Technical College by contacting:

Admissions
651-423-8000
Room 2-110

DCTC Alumni Association

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