Student Spotlight: Jarred VanHorn

Architectural Tech major honored as New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar

Jarred VanHorn, 22, a student at Dakota County Technical College, has been named a 2023 Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar. Jarred was selected for the honor as the DCTC student on the All-Minnesota Academic Team nominated for the All-USA Academic Team.

Jarred VanHorn and Robert Miklya

“I’m honored to even be considered for something like this,” Jarred said. “None of what I’ve accomplished would be possible without Dakota County Technical College encouraging me to follow my dreams or without the countless amazing people who worked with me on our projects.”

Jarred and Robert Miklya, another DCTC student on the PTK state-level academic team, were recognized at the All-Minnesota Academic Team Recognition Luncheon Friday, March 24, 2023, at the Como Park Rainforest Auditorium. Jarred gave a student address at the event.

Michael Berndt, president of DCTC and Inver Hills Community College, also attended the recognition luncheon. Inver Hills student, Karina Villeda, was present as well as a member of the All-Minnesota Academic Team.

President Berndt appreciates the work Jarred has accomplished to help his fellow students adapt to college life and achieve academic success.

“Students like Jarred are capable of so much when given the opportunity—not only in their personal growth, but in providing the leadership and advocacy among students to support college improvements,” the president said. “I have enjoyed watching Jarred lead in a variety of capacities, from developing his own student-related business to raising awareness of issues being championed by Student Senate.”

More about the New Century Pathway Scholarship…¹

The program annually recognizes 104 Scholars. Each New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar receives special recognition at the Association of Community College Trustees Congress.

Each New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar receives special recognition at the American Association of Community Colleges Convention.

To be eligible for this program, students must submit an application for the All-USA Academic Team and be selected as a nominee by their college.

The New Century Pathway Scholarship program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, the American Association of Community Colleges, and Phi Theta Kappa.

Jarred’s DCTC experience…

Jarred VanHorn

Jarred is double-majoring in Architectural Technology and Technical Management, earning A.A.S. degrees in both programs. He holds a 4.0 GPA and made the President’s List in fall semester 2021, spring semester 2022, and fall semester 2022.

Already putting his architectural and technical knowledge to use, Jarred led the design, 3D-modeling, and presentation of the DCTC Dental Assistant program area renovation. Jarred’s project was approved by the college for construction.

An exceptionally engaged student at DCTC, Jarred has accrued an extensive roster of extracurricular club and organization activities:
  • Wellness Club (founder and president)
  • TRIO Student Support Services (TRIO SSS)
  • Phi Theta Kappa (current president, previous secretary)
  • Student ambassador
  • Student Senate treasurer
  • Activities & Outreach Committee (member)
  • Voter Engagement Committee (member)
  • Ready, Set, Go! Committee (student member)
  • Budget and Planning Committee (member)
  • SEM Retention Committee (student member)
  • Equity & Inclusion Committee (member)
  • LeadMN Governing Council alternate
  • DCTC Foundation Board (student representative)
  • Multicultural Student Leadership Association (member)
  • Blue Knights NJCAA Soccer: forward: 2021–2022 season

Jarred has received several scholarships, including the Rhodes Family Endowment Scholarship, Uponor Workforce Development Scholarship,  Dakota Electric Association Scholarship, LeadMN Leadership Scholarship, and PTK All-Minnesota Academic Team Scholarship.

“Being recognized as a member of the All-Minnesota Academic team is a great honor,” he said, “and I’m grateful beyond words. To be selected for this is a testament to the many teams of people and support systems without which I would have accomplished nothing. It’s another reminder that what I’m fighting for does matter, and that I’m not alone in this fight—there are others like me on this new team of mine.”

Staff perspective: Anna Voight

“Jarred has been involved extensively on campus through countless clubs and activities. What has stood out to me most about Jarred in my time working with him is not his involvement in these activities, but his reason for getting involved. Jarred is involved in activities because he wants other students to have the best experience at DCTC and to get the support they need to be successful—at DCTC and beyond.

“He is very open about his educational and life journey, which has included many ups and downs, failures and successes, and most of all, learning the importance of asking for help from others. Jarred is committed to using his own life experiences to help others while also learning from others to continue his own leadership journey.

“Jarred’s passion for helping others has made a positive impact in the DCTC community, and his dedication to learning and lifelong growth will aid in his continued success and positive impact on our broader community and world. I look forward to witnessing the continued impact Jarred will have in our DCTC community and beyond.”

Anna Voight
Associate Director of Student Life
Dakota County Technical College

Faculty perspective: Anne Painter

“Jarred is the most genuinely inquisitive person I have ever met. He is always excited to learn more and asks questions upon questions to soak up as much information as possible. His excitement is contagious, and it helps to create communal participation and group enthusiasm.

“Jarred is also highly concerned with the success and experience of all the students at DCTC. He actively works to create not only a healthy environment for the current student body, but also wants to leave DCTC a better place for decades to come.

“It has been an honor to be his teacher.”

Anne Painter
Architectural Technology and Interior Design Faculty
Dakota County Technical College

Faculty perspective: Amy Evanson

“Jarred is currently serving as Phi Theta Kappa president at DCTC. He not only has been actively engaged in multiple volunteer activities with PTK, but he has also been motivating other students to participate in these events as well. He’s always encouraging and recruiting students to join PTK, but also highlighting other opportunities on campus.

Jarred’s leadership has had so many positive impacts during his time at DCTC, and we look forward to hearing what his future holds after graduation!”

Amy Evanson
Administrative Support Faculty
Phi Theta Kappa Faculty Advisor
Dakota County Technical College

Future goals…

After he graduates from DCTC, Jarred would like to pursue a doctoral degree in child psychology, political science, or sociology. His career plans are fueled by his spirit of volunteerism. He is a student volunteer with KARA (Kids at Risk Action) and also organized and planned DCTC events with the American Red Cross and Be The Match.

Jarred is the founder of a nonprofit organization, a project under development, that will eventually partner with schools and teachers to recognize children who are the victims of abuse, neglect, violence, poverty, or any other circumstance that would make a child less likely to grow into a happy, healthy, and functioning adult. Jarred wants to provide all-encompassing services to these children to redirect them away from negative outcomes.

“My goal is to create systemic change in American policy and culture surrounding mental health and child education through my work with nonprofits and legislators,” he said. “One day, I’d also like to become a legislator to help create this systemic change.”

Jarred’s tech connection

Jarred VanHorn

“I’ve always been interested in computer-aided drafting, 3D modeling, and architecture, but at DCTC I fell in love with those subjects. I’m a perfectionist, whose brain is always working out ways to maximize efficiency. I can solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and other math problems in my head quicker than the average person can using a calculator.

“If I had to define myself using one word, it would be ‘passionate.’ Here are some things I’m extremely passionate about:

“Computer-Aided Drafting and 3D Modeling: I have used Sketchup since I was 13 (back when it was Google Sketchup), AutoCAD since I was 14, Revit since I was 14, Autodesk Inventor since I was 14, and I recently learned Adobe Photoshop and Blubeam while at DCTC. In high school, I taught an introductory class on Revit to students interested in interior design.

“Finance: As a hobby I study marketing, investing, and economics (both macro and micro). I budget and plan for every expense I make—I even have a really nerdy excel spreadsheet with graphs and more than 2,500 individual formulas where I input all my transactions.”

Jarred VanHorn
Architectural Technology and Technical Management Double Major
PTK New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar 
Dakota County Technical College

More about Jarred…

Originally from Farmington, Minnesota, Jarred graduated from Farmington High School, Class of 2019, having played varsity soccer for the Farmington Tigers. He went on to major in computer science at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, and advanced his sports career by playing on the school’s men’s club soccer, but he did not find a lasting home at the university.

Student Life Dinner Spring 2022“I learned that without proper mental health and wellbeing, academic success is nearly impossible,” Jarred said. “My experiences struggling with depression, insomnia, and sickness in Colorado pushed me further along the path of learning and growing in mental health.”

Jarred resumed his education at the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas. He belonged to Sigma Chi (Iota Tau Chapter) and played for the men’s soccer club.

“I found going to the St. Thomas College of Business wasn’t my cup of tea,” he said. “I did end up getting very interested in business when it wasn’t taught in a way where I had to stick my head in a textbook for hours a day.”

Jarred works as a project engineer at a startup called LUHA Build, a job that offers him opportunities to construct AI and automated back-end systems that simplify or eliminate manual work people do. He also has a big hand in the strategic planning and vision of the company through his passion for AI, automation, tech, and operations.

“I was able to turn my failures into learning moments,” he said. “I studied business at St. Thomas and computer science at Colorado School of Mines, where I dropped out of each program, but now I’m developing a business with my boss and using my computer science skills in just about every aspect of it.”

Jarred emphasized that he is attending DCTC due in part to a traumatic experience he had at the end of his time at St. Thomas and the PTSD, anxiety disorder, and depression that experience caused.

“I think it’s important to share my what happened to me since letting others know about my experience helps reduce the stigma for getting treatment and seeking help,” he said.

Jarred’s academic journey was completely transformed after he found his way to DCTC. He explained how the college changed his perspective on higher education in a speech he gave at the DCTC Student Life Dinner in spring semester 2022.

“I learned a lot from the past three years,” Jarred said, “but the most significant thing I learned was how important mental health and other basic needs are when it comes to being successful in college.”

Jarred’s family includes his mom, Sherry, who works for the state of Minnesota on contracts for any renovations or additions to state buildings, his dad, Corey, who does network security for a nonprofit hospital, and his sister, Abby, who’s studying psychology at Iowa State and is almost as involved with her school as Jarred is at DCTC. The family has two dogs, a brown Lab name Lucy and a red Lab named Sapper.

In his free time, Jarred loves playing soccer, a sport he has pursued for 18 years. He also enjoys puzzles, DIY arts and crafts, and anything else that helps keep his mind occupied. He resides in Farmington.

Jarred life, family, and college gallery

One Word that Best Describes your Experience at DCTC:


Jarred VanHorn Q & A

Jarred VanHorn

Why did you decide to enroll in the Architectural Technology program at DCTC?

I’ve always enjoyed 3D modeling software and loved my classes on architecture and 3D construction design in high school. I even taught my class how to use the software when I was a junior.

What do you find most interesting about the Architectural Technology program?

The hands-on approach that doesn’t focus on reading textbooks and does focus on career-oriented skill development. For example, learning to use 10+ different tools/software that make me much more marketable to employers, the internship credit at the second semester of the second year, and the focus on hands-on learning with models.

Why and how did you start the Wellness Club at DCTC?

I started Wellness Club at DCTC because I took the Mental Health First-Aid (MHFA) training, which it opened up my world in terms of understanding mental health and how to ask difficult questions to friends/family that need help.

I realized that there’s such an advanced need for mental health right now, and that I wasn’t alone in the mental health struggles I had previously faced in college. I also realized that Wellness Club could be a place where students learn more about mental health and find resources that make mental health services accessible.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What did you like best about playing NJCAA DII soccer with the Blue Knights?

I really liked my teammates—it’s great when you get to do something you really enjoy with people you really enjoy!

What have you enjoyed most about your participation in so many clubs and committees?

The amount of skills I’ve learned and grown in as well as just getting to make a positive impact in the lives of those around me. That’s why I do everything I do, being involved and making positive changes is what I was born to do, and it’s what I will do throughout the rest of my life.

What advice would you give students thinking about joining a student club or organization?

Go for it! A lot of colleges want students for student work or student involvement because it looks good to high school students applying to their school, but DCTC is a place where students can actually have a voice and make an actual impact.

Opportunities to make impacts or network are given all the time to students who are involved. Students who are involved tend to do better academically as well.

What have learned about taking on leadership responsibilities during your time at DCTC?

I’ve learned that being a leader doesn’t just mean ordering people around and telling them what to do. Being a great leader means having great empathy, respect, appreciation, and understanding for those who you lead.

Being a great leader also requires a hardworking mindset, extreme diligence, and the ability to develop a team of great people around you. Without my teams of people helping me, none of what I do would be possible. Leaders get all the credit, but really the team is what’s driving any leader’s accomplishments.

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

My dad—I look back to my childhood and remember learning so many ethical and moral values from my dad. Several of my core memories are of him teaching me the following values which I now recognize as key reasons why I am the way I am now:

  • Education is the key to success
  • Always treat others with respect and kindness, and it will be returned to you
  • Hard work always pays off
  • Do what’s right, not what’s easy

These values (and many more) were instilled in me from childhood, through adulthood and now these lessons will stick with me throughout my life.

My mom also deserves mention; without her I don’t know where I’d be. Her main priority in life was always her kids. My empathy, care for others, and diligence comes straight from her. She spent the last 22 years with the sole focus of making her kids happy, healthy, and successful.

Where do you hope to find yourself in 20 years?

In 20 years, I’d like to be in political office fighting for real, positive change for people who are suffering. Or I’d like to be a consultant or advisor to a legislator if I’m not in office myself.

View All-Minnesota Academic Team Recognition Luncheon event photos by visiting the photo album on DCTC Flickr.

Jarred VanHorn 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Definitely soccer, it’s the beautiful game!
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Rome (history nerd)
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Getting to speak 1 on 1 with legislators about the importance of investing in higher education and mental health by sharing my own story of mental health and higher education
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Set up an investment fund to ensure I could donate around $50 million/year while maintaining my balance of $1 billion 2) Pay the college tuition of all DCTC students 3) Become my own Super PAC and lobby politicians to fight for equity, the environment, the poor, and mental health
  5. Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: 10 Habits of Highly Successful People—such great advice for growing skills that can be applied in almost any career or life circumstance
  6. Time period (past or future) you would explore if you could time travel: Definitely the past, I would love to see Rome during its heyday and Mesopotamia during the Bronze Age
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in your life: I want to either lead or assist other leaders in the fight for systemic change in our country surrounding mental health, child health and safety, wealth inequity, and more
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: I would be an owl
  9. Dream occupation: President of the United States or CEO of my own nonprofit or company
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. representative
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: How to be a great leader
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Greed, corruption, and the resulting effect each has on society, which have been the most important issue facing humankind for thousands of years; if we all worked together and were selfless, we would progress so quickly (technologically, in quality of life, culturally, etc.)
Learn more about Architectural Technology and Technical Management at DCTC by contacting:

Dakota County Technical College
Room 2-110

Learn more about Student Life at DCTC by contacting:
Associate Director of Student Life
Dakota County Technical College

¹ SOURCE: New Century Pathway Scholarship

More about Architectural Technology at DCTC…

The 60-credit Architectural Technology Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree prepares you to work in architecture- and construction-related fields. You will get training on the latest computer-aided design (CAD), REVIT building information modeling (BIM), and 3D visualization software.

As a student in the program, you will develop drawings for residential and commercial buildings in a hands-on environment patterned after the most up-to-date architectural offices. Realistic architectural projects provide an excellent mix of technical training and creative problem-solving, including effectively incorporating sustainability and green building principles.

All students in the program are provided with a laptop—an associated fee is charged each semester for software and hardware costs. The laptop comes equipped with all the software (including ongoing updates) you’ll need for the program. The curriculum stays current with professional trends and industry standards. After you successfully complete all four semesters, you may keep the laptop as your own.

The 12-credit Drafting certificate is offered as a way for PSEO students to begin working toward a degree while still attending high school. The certificate is also beneficial for industry professionals seeking to update their drafting skills to current industry software standards. This certificate is not eligible for financial aid.

All students must have access to a Windows PC that is compatible with the most up-to-date requirements for both Autodesk AutoCAD and Autodesk Revit. Current system requirements for this computer can be found on the Autodesk website.


More about Technical Management at DCTC…

The 60-credit Technical Management Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree gives you students the knowledge, skills, and abilities you need to succeed in leadership positions and enhance career mobility. This program is highly individualized based on your interests and previous experience.

You can apply for Credit for Prior Learning (CPL), a process that offers academic credit when you successfully demonstrate the college- or university-level knowledge and skills you’ve obtained via informal or experiential learning outside the classroom. You can have your learning evaluated for academic credit, saving you time and money toward earning your degree.

As a student in the Technical Management program, you can leverage your specific technical field with the required Business Management emphasis (BUSN). You can further explore and incorporate more than one DCTC program as part of the A.A.S. degree.

Working conditions in technical management positions are typically similar to office team settings. Technical professionals fill supervisory and middle management roles in companies and corporations.

Potential job titles include:
  • Production Supervisor
  • Manager
  • Facility Manager
  • Line Supervisor
  • Maintenance Manager
  • Manufacturing Supervisor
  • Quality Manager
  • Human Resources Manager