Student Spotlight: Jarritt Leonard

Jarritt Leonard

HVAC/R major selected as 2023 Coca-Cola Military Leaders of Promise Scholar

Jarritt Leonard, 23, is majoring in HVAC & Refrigeration Technology at Dakota County Technical College. Jarritt has served in the Minnesota National Guard since August 2021. He was recently named a 2023 Coca-Cola Military Leaders of Promise Scholar and will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

“I am very happy to see an investment in me from an organization that promotes upcoming leadership,” Jarritt said.

Sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, the Leaders of Promise Scholarship awards 200 scholarships annually with 25 earmarked for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society members who are active personnel or veterans of the U.S. Military.

“Coca-Cola Military Leaders of Promise Scholars are selected based on outstanding academic achievement and demonstrated leadership potential and were selected by a panel of independent judges from nearly 1,100 applicants,” said Lynn Tincher-Ladner, PhD, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society president and CEO. “The Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program was launched in 2001 to assist new Phi Theta Kappa members obtain an associate degree and encourage participation in Society programs. Today, the Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship is more relevant than ever as our organization, colleges, and communities actively encourage the completion of a college credential, an associate degree, or a certificate among college students.”

Jarritt is a very busy college student. Along with his HVAC/R studies, he works 40 hours a week as a CenterPoint Energy Home Service Plus (HSP) service technician intern. He values that paid, on-the-job opportunity and enjoys learning from a large number of super-experienced technicians. He also participates in PTK, belongs to the college’s Veterans Club, and serves on the DCTC Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee.

An airman first class (A1C) in the Minnesota National Guard (MNG), Jarritt is assigned to the 133rd Civil Engineer Squadron(CES) as a 3E4X1 specializing in water fuels system maintenance.

When asked what he likes best about serving in the MNG, Jarritt said, “The people—my squadron and shop are packed with great and very knowledgeable people. I would love to make master sergeant one day. Being a senior noncommissioned officer seems like a good long-term goal.”

Staff perspective: Kathy Bachman

Kathy to Jarritt: “As a Veterans Club and Yellow Ribbon Committee member you are valued, and your opinions are respected. You have always stepped up to volunteer and are always willing to share feedback from your experiences for the betterment of the college and its students. I look forward to working with you this upcoming school year!”

Katherine Bachman
Metro Regional Coordinator
Veterans Education
Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs

Faculty perspective: Torry Jeranek

Jarritt  has a great work ethic, a great attitude, and he’s always willing to do or learn something new. Jarritt has a fair amount of trades experience from his work in the Air National Guard, so much of the work we did came fairly easy for him.

As a result, he was often ahead of much of the class. When he had extra time, he would help others around him. He is also an active member in the DCTC Veterans Club. I could go on, but suffice it to say, Jarritt is a deserving recipient of this award.

Torry Jeranek
HVAV & Refrigeration Faculty
Dakota County Technical College

More about Veterans Club…

Starting college as a veteran can at times be complex and often requires some time for adjustment. Connecting with other veterans on campus can help overcome the stress and challenges of this transition. We offer student veterans opportunities to meet other veterans on campus and join together for camaraderie and peer support through the Veterans Club.

Students interested in joining can submit a Student Life Interest Form or contact the club advisor.


More about the Beyond a Yellow Ribbon Committee…

The mission of the Dakota County Technical College Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee is to support the success of students, faculty, and staff, who are veterans, current service members and their family by honoring their service; advocating for military-friendly policies and practices; and providing access to veteran’s benefits.


More about Jarritt…

Because his dad served two decades in the U.S. Air Force, Jarritt grew up as a military brat who lived on Eielson AFB in Alaska and on Hill AFB in Utah as well as in Las Vegas, Nevada. He graduated from Hastings High School, Class of 2017.

Jarrit is earning his 60-credit HVAC & Refrigeration Technology A.A.S. at DCTC and is looking forward to graduating in spring 2024.

“I would like to switch to Technical Management at DCTC next,” he said. “My goals after DCTC include working on a bachelor’s degree online. I would eventually love to open my own HVAC/plumbing company.”

Jarritt’s mother, Amy, does government work from a degree she earned with the GI Bill. His father, Michael, has been going to DCTC  for about six years now. He has completed the Automotive Technician, Brewing & Beer Steward Technology, Photography, Welding Technology, Technical Management, and Graphic Design Technology programs.

“My brother, Jaxson, goes to Hastings Middle School,” Jarritt added. “My fiancée, Julia, is currently a phlebotomist for Allina Health. We’re getting married in September. I have a dog named Jack who is a mixed-breed reservation rescue.”

In his free time, Jarritt enjoys working on his parent’s hobby farm. He generally likes finding projects that are trade-oriented. He resides in Hastings, Minnesota.

Jarritt life gallery

Two words that best describe your experience at DCTC:


Jarritt Leonard Q & A

Jarritt Leonard

What motivated you to enroll in the HVAC & Refrigeration Technology program at DCTC?

I enjoy a demanding trade that requires plenty of problem-solving. I also enjoy that you are always learning within the trade itself with new technology always being brought into the industry. Very good job security as well.

What do you like best about your HVAC & Refrigeration Technology classes so far?

Very good program with a knowledgeable instructor—a lot of freedom within the classes as well.

What are the most challenging aspects of HVAC/R maintenance and repair?

I would say that the most challenging part of the trade is learning everything initially.

Three words that describe you as a DCTC student:

What advice would you give people thinking about joining the Minnesota National Guard?

I would say do it; it gives you a great network of people and stories that you’ll carry forever.

How has your time in the National Guard helped you in college and the workforce?

I joined the CE squadron doing plumbing, so I had a great grasp of mechanical and technical work.

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

I would say my father, he served 20 years in the military and was a plumber. He really shaped the person I am today.

Where do you hope to find yourself in 20 years?

I really want to have my own company with a few employees. I would also love to own a large piece of land with my family having a hobby farm on it.

Jarritt Leonard 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: I run for PT testing, but can’t say it’s my favorite
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Would love to spend some time up in Canada
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Recently, we did a land nav course with the Air Guard and got into a firefight with paintball guns
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Invest 2) Start a slew of companies with my buddies 3) Definitely give my family money
  5. Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: I’ve just read All Tomorrows and it still kinda freaks me out
  6. Time period (past or future) you would explore if you could time travel: Whatever time with cowboys
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in your life: Start a great family
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Penguin—fun to watch
  9. Dream occupation: Entrepreneur
  10. Person you would most like to meet: The president or past president
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Balloon animals, just a random party trick no one expects
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: War
Learn more about HVAC & Refrigeration Technology at DCTC by contacting:

Room 2-110

More about the HVAC & Refrigeration Technology program at DCTC…

The Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration program provides you with the entry-level knowledge and skills you’ll need to safely install, maintain, troubleshoot, and repair today’s technologically advanced HVAC/R systems.

Through group discussions, lectures, and hands-on laboratory experience with actual HVAC/R equipment, you will learn what it takes to launch a successful career in this exciting and challenging industry career.

The program will prepared to take and pass the required EPA Section 608 refrigerant handling certification exam.  You should bring strong basic math skills and a mechanical aptitude.

Work conditions…

HVAC/R technicians must be able to work independently in extreme conditions at all hours of the day and night. Technician work in attics, basements, and crawlspaces and on rooftops, experiencing the cold of winter and the heat and humidity of summer.

Occasional heavy lifting, working off ladders or scaffolding and being comfortable with heights are also potential requirements. HVAC/R technicians should expect to be on call and work after hours and some weekends.

Potential job titles
  • Residential and/or Commercial HVAC/R Service Technician
  • Residential and/or Commercial HVAC/R Installer
  • Sheet Metal Fabrication and Installation
  • HVAC/R Equipment and Parts Salesperson

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

Install, repair, and maintain the building systems that control temperature.

This career pays above the statewide median of $23.81/hour


Median: $33.39/hour
High: $41.06/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $39.78/hour
High: $45.73/hour


In Minnesota, there are 4,490 workers employed in this medium-sized career, which is currently in high demand. There will be a need for about 3,988 new Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers to meet market demand between 2020–2030 This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

— Minnesota State CAREERwise Education (August 22, 2023)