Alumni Advisory Board Update

Brandon Folson and Michaela Holman-Schmidt

Meet President Brandon Folson & Member Michaela Holman-Schmidt

The Alumni Advisory Board at Dakota County Technical College has welcomed two alumni as new members, Brandon Folson, Class of 2020, and Michaela Holman-Schmidt, Class of 2019. Brandon serves as board president; Michaela is a board member who also works at the college.

The DCTC Alumni Advisory Board offers advice, insights, strategies, and guidance to help support the college mission: Learn, discover, and build a better future: DCTC is dedicated to education for employment and lifelong growth.

The board also works to establish enduring connections between the college’s graduates and our campus community of students, staff, faculty, administrators, and patrons.

“Brandon has been an excellent addition to the board—he is exceptionally driven and sets high standards both for himself and the board. He is analytical and genuinely wants to promote progress at DCTC making him a wonderful president.

“Michaela’s energy and warmth make her a great asset to the board! As a recent graduate who now works full-time at DCTC, she brings several key perspectives to her role. We are happy to have both of them serving on the board.”

Amy Eppen
Foundation Development Director
Alumni Advisory Board Member
Dakota County Technical College

Brandon Folson: Board president perspective

Brandon Folson

Brandon Folson recently accepted the role of Alumni Advisory Board president at Dakota County Technical College. Brandon was a highly motivated student at DCTC and Inver Hills Community College. He earned an Automotive Technician diploma and studied business management at DCTC and liberal arts at Inver Hills.

Brandon graduated from DCTC in fall 2020. He was an exceptionally engaged student at both schools, serving on the DCTC and Inver Hills American Indian Advisory Committees. He served as Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) president at DCTC and was a PTK member at Inver Hills. He also served on the Inver Hills Diversity Council. He completed Heart of a Leader training at DCTC.

After graduating from DCTC, Brandon transferred to Loyola University Chicago. He’s attending Loyola full-time, majoring in Economics and Pre-Law. He is continuing his passion for student engagement at Loyola. He is an Achieving College Excellence (ACE) Scholar and serves as a Cura Scholar research fellow on tribal economies.

“I am a member of the Loyola University Chicago chapters of the Golden Key International Honor Society, and a member of the LUC Economics Forum,” Brandon related, “and also the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.”

Brandon is excited about his role as Alumni Advisory Board president.

“I joined the board because I want to contribute to DCTC’s institutional growth and student achievement by supporting programs that engage K–12 schools,” he said, “as well as organizations that help retrain adult workers by placing DCTC in their pathway.”

Brandon added that giving back to the DCTC and Inver Hills communities is important to him because faculty and staff at both colleges have played a vital role in his continued success.

“I had a thriving private-sector career before deciding to return to school to pursue new challenges,” he said. “In all my years of working for local and national firms, I have not come across finer people than at DCTC and Inver Hills.”

More about Brandon…

Brandon and Scott Anderson, Automotive Technician faculty

Originally from Mitchell, South Dakota, Brandon graduated from St. Paul High School, Class of 1996. By federally certified blood degree, he is Oglala and Ihanktowan. Ihanktowan is also known as Yankton Sioux by the federal government.

“Returning to school full-time was a hard decision but necessary,” Brandon said. “Leaving the earnings that tied me to my former career was scary and challenging. There will always be something holding you back, but if you are determined to live out your life’s vision, you have to take a calculated risk.”

For Brandon, leaving his corporate job and returning to school was necessary for crafting the next stage of his life.

“I’m proud of my former career and the institutions I served,” he said. “My education will provide me with the skills and relationships to ensure my success as an entrepreneur, investor, advisor, and agent for social change.”

Brandon’s mom

Brandon’s mother, Debra, moved back on the reservation in Lake Andes, South Dakota, over the summer of 2021. Debra was one of the native children the U.S. government forced to attend assimilation boarding schools in the early 1960s. Her school was located in Marty, South Dakota, on the Yankton Sioux Reservation.

Phoenix

“My mother and I are very close,” Brandon said. “She is an incredible woman, and what I am is because of her. She challenged me to contribute to our tribe positively, and she believes my current endeavors will do that. ”

Regretfully, Brandon’s father passed away several years ago. Brandon has two younger brothers, one living in Minnesota and one in South Dakota. Brandon provides foster care to three special-needs children, Hayden, 15, Jadaus, 12, and Phoenix, 3.

“For the first time in my foster children’s lives, they are doing great in school!” Brandon said, “It’s hard work, but rewarding!”

Brandon Folson gallery


Brandon Folson Q & A

What would you like to accomplish while serving as Alumni Advisory Board president?

I want to create options such as mentorship programs to cultivate effective study habits and guide students to all the school’s resources.

Why should DCTC graduates get involved with the Alumni Association?

Building community, networking, and leveraging relationships and school resources to further their personal and professional goals.

What advice would you give college students about choosing their career paths?

Pursue work that aligns with your purpose in life by thinking about who you are and what you offer the community. No matter what you choose to do, perfect it to the best of your abilities and live a life worth living.

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

My mother, Debra, has been the most influential in my life. After all, we have been working together for my entire life…lol. She has always tried to encourage me to do more and be better.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

Native American, followed by African American men, have the lowest life expectancy; therefore, I think less about where I’ll be and more about what I can accomplish within that time frame. With hard work and dedication, I will achieve my goals and prepare the next generation to be better than the one they are replacing.

Learn more about Brandon by reading the DCTC News story:

“Student Spotlight: Brandon Folson”

DCTC Alumni Advisory Board

APPLICATION

Michaela Holman-Schmidt: Board member perspective

Michaela at 2019 DCTC Commencement

Michaela Holman-Schmidt, 24, is a new member of the DCTC Alumni Advisory Board. Michaela brings a valuable outlook to the board because she is a DCTC alumna and also works for the college as an administrative assistant with responsibilities across several departments.

“I was inspired to join the Alumni Advisory Board by a colleague of mine who is also an alumni of DCTC,” Michaela said. “She thought that the board would be a good fit for me and a good way to boost my resume. I really wanted a way to join in the community because as a student I did not participate as much as I wish I had.”

Michaela graduated from DCTC with her Accounting Clerk diploma in spring 2019. She is on track to earn her Associate of Arts (A.A.) from Inver Hills Community College in spring 2022. She’s also earning a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Individualized Studies at Metropolitan State University.

“My academic goal is to obtain a bachelor’s degree as soon as possible,” Michaela said. “I have had a difficult journey deciding what I want to do with my life. Working here at DCTC has helped me realize I love working in education and want to pursue a position in the field.”

Michaela started working at DCTC in November 2017 while she was still a student. During her time as a student, she served as a TRIO/Upward Bound tutor, helping her fellow students with homework, problem-solving, test preparation, and more.

She is centering her current career goals on becoming an advisor for TRIO/Student Support Services or the McNair Scholars program. TRIO/SSS is a federal program that provides educational outreach to low-income, first-generation college students as well as students with disabilities. TRIO/SSS advisors help students navigate academic environments from middle school to postgraduate programs.

The McNair Scholars program is a federal TRIO program funded at more than 150 institutions across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The program is designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities.

“I have participated in TRIO programs myself, and I really believe in the work that these programs do,” Michaela said. “I want to make a positive impact on people, and I want to help underrepresented students achieve their academic goals.”

Her duties as an administrative assistant include event planning, project management, and purchasing for Student Life, Blue Knights Athletics, Customized Training, Student Services, Academic Affairs, TRIO, and the Minnesota Transportation Center of Excellence.

“The best thing I like about my job are the people,” Michaela said. “I work with faculty, staff, and students. I love helping people in any way that I can, so this position helps fill that passion. DCTC faculty are amazing! They care so much about their students and for each other.”

Michaela was recently hospitalized unexpectedly and when she returned to job at the college, her coworkers checked in on her and explained how much they had missed her.

“They were happy I was okay,” Michaela said. “I feel emotional talking about that because they all really care so much, and that is just one part of how this community works together and supports one another.”

More about Michaela…

Michaela with her dad at Mille Lacs

Originally from Burnsville, Minnesota, Michaela graduated from Burnsville Senior High School, Class of 2015. Michaela’s mom, Heather, works for Galaxie Floor Stores in Apple Valley. Michaela’s dad, Michael, works for Citywide Insulation in Shakopee. Michaela has one brother, Mikey, age 16. Michaela’s stepmom, Tamara, owns Fabulous Flower Market, a floral/consignment shop in Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

In her free time, Michaela likes singing, dancing, rollerskating, and fishing as well as spending time with family and friends.

“I also enjoy bad jokes,” she related, “so I love laughing!”

Michaela resides with her mom in Eagan, Minnesota.

Michaela Holman-Schmidt gallery


Michaela Holman-Schmidt Q & A

What would you like to accomplish while serving on the Alumni Advisory Board?

I would like to help bring about some sort of change or improvement related to alumni engagement or even the college as a whole. I want to make a difference in the world, and I want to have a positive impact on people. I think serving on the board will give me the opportunity to do both. I am in a unique position because I work at the college so possible improvements from an alumni standpoint could benefit my work as an employee.

Why should DCTC graduates get involved with the Alumni Association?

As an older adult completing a degree, I think getting involved is a great way to support the school community, but it will also have a positive impact on my personal development. Getting the chance to stay engaged with your school is also a wonderful opportunity to network. As an adult and student, I have learned that networking is super important, and it has helped me get me to where I am at today.

What advice would you give college students about choosing their career paths?

I feel like this conversation would take a lot of time! I feel that because I have attended a liberal arts university, a technical college, and a community college, I have a lot of knowledge to share. I would start with their current interests and then maybe suggest some online self-assessments.

Technical and community colleges do cost less and allow you to navigate your own educational interests at that lower cost. On the other hand, universities give you a wide variety of experiences, but that is at a more expensive cost. It really is an individual-based question, so that is where I would start!

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

My mom has influenced me the most. She has been a single mother who went to school full-time and worked part-time while she was raising me. We have gone through financial struggles, health struggles, vehicle problems, and more. She is an inspiration of strength. Not only through daily life occurrences, but also physically.

My mom has been my role model since I was young. She has been one of the constant people in my life who supports me, even if it takes a little convincing on my behalf. She tries her hardest to be the best mom she can be. To me, she is and that inspires me to be the best person I can be.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

This is such a difficult question for me! I would like to have my own office space at a college or university, and I would be in the college advising career path. By this time, I would also hope to have a husband and kids. My overall hope is that I am happy, and I am pursuing goals to better myself, so if none of the above happen—I think I will be okay!

Learn more about the DCTC Alumni Advisory Board by contacting:

Amy Eppen
Foundation Development Director
651-423-8265

Advisory Board Member Arlette Cuevas-Renteria on DCTC News:

Alumna Spotlight: Arlette Cuevas-Renteria

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