AlumKnights Newsletter June 2021

DCTC campus community: Sharing stories from spring semester 2021

Alumnus Spotlight: Royce Davis

Royce Davis

2010 graduate working as cybersecurity expert

Royce Davis, 35, graduated from Dakota County Technical College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Information Systems Management. Today, Royce works as a principal red team engineer for ServiceNow, a $6 billion enterprise software company based in Santa Clara, California. With 6,200 customers worldwide and more than 12,500 employees, ServiceNow delivers a cloud platform that helps companies manage digital workflows.

“I was always interested in computer hacking,” Royce said, noting that his early perspective stemmed from a more mischievous, rule-breaking frame of mind. “Actually, Larry Dunn, one of my teachers at DCTC, allowed me to give a couple of hacker demonstrations/presentations in class. Larry eventually introduced me to a connection of his who ran a pentest [pentration testing] practice in Minneapolis. I landed an internship there back in 2010 and have been working in the field ever since.”

Judy Suddendorf, one of Royce’s former information systems management teachers and 2020 DCTC Instructor of the Year, is proud of his accomplishments in the field of cybersecurity.

“Royce is a great example of how far a two-year degree can take you if you put in the time and effort to develop marketable skills,” Judy said.


Uponor Donates $10,000 for Workforce Development Scholarships

Scott Kies, UNA director of IT Analytics and Manufacturing, Ingrid Mattsson, UNA director of Brand and Corporate Social Responsibility, Amy Eppen, DCTC Foundation development director

Scholarship funds support students enrolled in high-demand programs

Uponor has donated $10,000 to support Workforce Development Scholarships (WDS) at Dakota County Technical College (DCTC). An indoor climate, plumbing, and infrastructure solutions company, Uponor North America (UNA) operates its North American headquarters in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

Industrial Engineering Technician

Amy Eppen, foundation development director at the college, reported that Uponor representatives traveled to the DCTC campus in Rosemount, Minnesota, on Friday, February 26, 2021, to present the $10,000 check. On hand were Ingrid Mattsson, UNA director of Brand and Corporate Social Responsibility, and Scott Kies, UNA director of IT Analytics and Manufacturing.

“Uponor’s $10,000 donation helps fund $2,500 Workforce Development Scholarships for the 2021–2022 school year,” Amy said. “Uponor’s scholarship support is earmarked for students earning degrees in the Architectural Technology, Networking  Administration and Industrial Engineering Technician programs at DCTC.”

Amy added that the Minnesota State Legislature will match Uponor’s donations, doubling the amount and ultimately supporting eight DCTC students pursuing high-demand occupations.

Funding Workforce Development Scholarships aligns closely with the UNA objective to train and equip skilled tradespeople for the future. “Reaching out to students is one of our top priorities, because it helps support the next generation of professionals coming into the workforce,” Ingrid Mattsson said.


DCTC Baseball Volunteers at The Open Door

Players and coaches help distribute food at Pop-Up Produce Drive Thru

The Blue Knights baseball team at Dakota County Technical College volunteered to distribute food at The Open Door (TOD) Pop-Up Produce Drive-Thru at Metcalf Middle School in Burnsville, Minnesota. Players and coaches worked outdoors alongside TOD associates for three hours Tuesday afternoon, February 2, 2021.

DCTC Head Baseball Coach Matt Erzar was happy to see his players doing their part to alleviate hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic when so many people are facing food insecurity.

“It was great to see our young men working together to help out our community,” Coach Erzar said. “I believe our guys now have a greater appreciation for The Open Door organization. They were very surprised by how much food was given out, and I was blown away how quickly we got the families in and out with their food.”

Assistant Baseball Coach Dana Kiecker was also on hand that afternoon to participate in the food-distribution operation.

“It takes an entire baseball roster to work cooperatively to be successful on the diamond,” Coach Kiecker said. “The DCTC Blue Knights baseball team worked cooperatively with The Open Door Pop-Up Produce Drive Thru to bring hope, smiles and nutritious food to people in Dakota County.”


DCTC Drive-Thru Graduation 2021

Graduates, students, staff, faculty and administrators celebrate commencement

Celebration held Friday, May 14, 2021, on the college’s campus in Rosemount, Minnesota.

DCTC Drive-Thru Graduation gallery

View more event photos by visiting the DCTC Flickr album:

DCTC Drive-Thru Graduation 2021

2021 DCTC & IHCC Virtual Gala

Celebrating Success

Co-hosted by the Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College foundations, this year’s gala was a virtual event highlighting successes at both institutions throughout the past year. Michael Berndt, DCTC and Inver Hills president, and Kimberly Shaff, executive director of the foundations, provided a warm welcome before Jake Sedlacek and Joel Trinkle, foundation board member co-hosts, kicked off the program.

Nabil with wife, Dalia, and their children

Students shared personal experiences, recent obstacles, and ways the foundations have supported them. Nabil Waghin, a student in the DCTC Electrical Construction & Maintenance Technology program and spring 2021 recipient of a Flint Hills STEM Scholarship, related how he works full-time while enrolled in classes.

Nabil also helps raise two young children with his wife, Dalia, an Inver Hills student who graduated May 2021 and will transfer this fall to the University of Minnesota to complete a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Cindy Greenseth, an Inver Hills alumna, poignantly spoke about why she provided a foundation endowed scholarship. Although she was the first in her family to graduate from college, Cindy’s mother, Linda Lee Harder, was a strong advocate for education as well as Cindy’s biggest cheerleader.

Cindy vividly remembers her mother arriving two hours early to secure a front row seat at graduation.  She looks forward to awarding the first scholarship recipient in her late mother’s honor.

Whitney Bunce, event planner for Sam Houston State University

Also recognized during the gala program were Whitney Bunce, a 2016 Meeting & Event Management graduate for her selection as DCTC 2021 Alumna of the Year, Anne Johnson, MBA, DCTC vice president of student affairs, for her selection as DCTC 2021 Employee of the Year, and The Open Door, a hunger-relief organization based in Dakota County, as the DCTC/Inver Hills 2021 Community Partner.

Participants browsed and bid on online silent auctions items including a Traeger grill and smoker package, autographed Minnesota Wild and Vikings jerseys, artwork, desserts, home décor and more.  Thirty area businesses and individuals sponsored the event, including Ziegler CAT of Bloomington, a Premier Platinum sponsor, and Home Federal of Eagan, a Platinum sponsor.

Executive Director Kim Shaff reported that the foundations not only met their goal of $60,000, but surpassed it.

“With this being our largest fundraising event of the year, we were a bit nervous on how the virtual event would be attended and received,” Kim said. “But you all showed up to support students! We are so proud to be part of such a wonderful community that continually supports the colleges and students especially when faced with challenges. We would like to thank our industry partners, community members, alumni and campus community for your support in helping us exceed our fundraising goal. I look forward to seeing you all in person at next year’s gala.”

The Foundations extend their tremendous appreciation to all those who donated, purchased auction items, sponsored, and participated in this year’s event with proceeds ensuring DCTC and Inver Hills students’ long-term success in the classroom and beyond!

2021 Alumna of the Year: Whitney Bunce

Whitney Bunce and Melvin

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.

2021 DCTC Alumna of the Year

“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.”

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.”


DCTC Alumni Advisory Board Update

Branko Tambah and Christine LaMott at DCTC Drive-Thru Graduation 2020

Alumni Advisory Board seeking two new members

The DCTC Alumni Advisory Board is seeking two, committed, energetic and student-centered alumni interested in becoming board members. Advisory board members must be alumni of the college, employees or current students. This is a volunteer position and members serve a two-year term (with a limit of two consecutive terms).

Deadline to apply is Monday, August 2, 2021.


Departing members

Christine and Branko at DCTC Foundation End-of-Year Thank You Event 2021

Branko Tambah
First Board President

Branko Tambah is completing two two-year terms as the first president of the DCTC Alumni Advisory Board. Branko was named DCTC 2020 Alumnus of the Year. He earned three degrees from Minnesota State two-year colleges: an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Individualized Studies (2017) and an A.A.S. in Management for Technical Professionals (2015) from DCTC, and an Associate of Arts (A.A.) from Inver Hills Community College (2017).

While attending DCTC, Branko received the 2015 Dave Schroeder Outstanding Student Award, which is given to honor the college’s first president, Dave Schroeder, who served from 1970–1999. Branko also received the Mark M. Welter World Citizen Award from LeadMN. He served on campus as a student ambassador and president of the Multicultural Student Leadership Association (MSLA). He was a member of DCTC Christians on Campus and the DCTC Lions Club. In 2018, he addressed graduates at the commencement ceremony and then again in 2019 with co-speaker, Julie Tuerk.

“Branko is one of the most devoted, generous individuals I know,” said Amy Eppen, DCTC Foundation development director. “His loyalty to DCTC runs deep and he exemplifies grit, drive, compassion and generosity. We will miss him greatly and are so thankful for his leadership and continual support of students.”

“I am truly honored and grateful for the love, support and opportunity to serve the college, students and alumni as the first president of the Alumni Advisory Board. DCTC has been the bridge that led me to finding my true purpose in life and career. The college inspired me to dream big, serve and believe that very destiny requires a bridge to fulfill its purpose, and an equal responsibility to give back.”
Branko Tambah
2017 Graduate
Alumni Advisory Board President
Dakota County Technical College

Christine LaMott
Board Member

Christine LaMott, SHRM-CP, SPHR, is completing two two-year terms as a DCTC Alumni Advisory Board member. Christine serves as a human resources business partner at Restaurant Technologies. As a student at DCTC , she earned an A.A.S. in Supervisory Management in 2010 along with certificates in Supervisory Leadership, HR Development and Quality Improvement.

Christine went on to earn her B.S. in Human Resources (2013) and her M.A. in Human Resources Management (2016), both degrees from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She has served as an ambassador for Can Do Canines Assistance Dogs for more than six years.

“Christine is an incredible role model for DCTC students—she pursued her education at DCTC as a full-time working adult, wife and mother and excelled,” Amy Eppen said. “She earned the Rising Star Award in 2016, has taught classes at DCTC, and brings a wealth of industry experience with her. We will miss Christine’s enthusiasm, her willingness to volunteer and ample wisdom!”

Contact Amy Eppen to learn more.

Phlebotomy Tech Student Spotlight: Deb Preachuk

Deb Preachuk with Mimi

Practical Nursing student earns phlebotomist certification

Deb Preachuk

Deb Preachuk, 51, is a student in the Practical Nursing program at Dakota County Technical College. Deb is on track to graduate from DCTC with her Practical Nursing diploma in December 2021. She recently completed her training in the Phlebotomy Technician certificate program offered by Minnesota Training Connection, a partnership between DCTC and Inver Hills Community College.

Deb is looking forward to passing the NCLEX-PN exam in 2022 and beginning work as a licensed practical nurse (LPN).

“I can see myself working in a hospital setting—in the emergency room or some type of acute care nursing,” she said. “I would also like to figure out a role where I can continue serving as a phlebotomy technician [phlebotomist] as well.”

Deb reported that she recently accepted a position as a laboratory care technician (LCT) at Fairview Southdale and Fairview Ridges. She starts Monday, May 24, 2021, and will float between both hospitals.


2021 DCTC Writing Contest Winners

1st Place: “Smile” by Shira Dols

Jim Kosmo

The annual DCTC Student Writing Contest received 16 entries this spring. The contest’s theme centered on stories and essays demonstrating personal growth. Shira Dols, a Medical Assistant major, took first place with her entry, “Smile.” Korey Pollock, a Medical Coding Specialist major, took second place with her entry, “Tortured on the Table.” Tracie Provo, a Veterinary Technician major, took third place with her entry, “On Becoming a Midwife.”

Shira received a $350 scholarship for spring semester 2021; Korey received a $250 scholarship for spring semester 2021; Tracie received a $150 scholarship for spring semester 2021.

Jim Kosmo, author of Monsters in the Hallway and Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel, sponsored this year’s contest. A retired riverboat captain, Jim has won 16 national literary awards and was recognized twice as a national editor of the year.

“Overall, the quality of writing was very good this year making the reading enjoyable,” Jim said. “Shira Dols, the author of ‘Smile,’ may have a writing career and should consider entering more writing contests. As past chairman of a community board that oversees senior care centers, I felt that story.”


Education Justice Project

Minnesota Training Connection delivering CDL training to justice-informed individuals

Minnesota Training Connection (MTC) is partnering with Volunteers in Corrections (VIC) and Ujamaa Place to deliver Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training at no cost to Ramsey County Corrections justice-informed individuals as part of the Education Justice Project at Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College.

Monica Ibarra

Monica Ibarra, Title III project coordinator at Inver Hills leads the Education Justice Project. Monica is chair of the IHCC/DCTC BIPOC, and she has actively engaged with the Dakota County BIPOC Professional Networking Group, Inver Middle School and Inver Glenn Library.

Monica also volunteers as chair of the Volunteers in Corrections (VIC) Board. She’s lead volunteer with the Minnesota ACLU and a member of the Ramsey County Corrections Advisory Board (CAB), the MAPE EDIC subgroup and the Minnesota Association of County Corrections Act Counties Race Equity Committee.

“We are delivering the Class B CDL training in cohorts of six,” Monica said. “Training is at no cost to the students where VIC is providing financial scholarships. Ujamaa Place is delivering wraparound services to the participants.”


Learn more about the Alumni Association by contacting:

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