Three DCTC Students Named to 2024 All-Minnesota Academic Team

Alexis Nordling, McKenzie Koles, Jarritt Leonard

Alexis Nordling, McKenzie Koles, and Jarritt Leonard awarded $500 scholarships

Three students from Dakota County Technical College have been named to this year’s Phi Theta Kappa All-Minnesota Academic Team. Alexis Nordling, a Medical Coding Specialist major, and McKenzie Koles, an Early Childhood & Youth Development major, made the team as New Century Scholar Workforce Pathway nominees. Jarritt Leonard, an HVAC & Refrigeration Technology major, made the team as a New Century Scholar Transfer Pathway nominee.

Representing the best-0f-the-best two-year college students from across the state, Alexis, McKenzie, and Jarritt are three of a limited number of students per campus who have been selected for nomination for the All-USA/Coca-Cola Academic Team. They have been placed in competition for All-USA Academic Team, Coca-Cola Academic Team, and New Century Pathway scholarship awards.

Alexis, McKenzie, and Jarritt will each receive a $500 scholarship from the DCTC Foundation to recognize their academic accomplishments. They will be honored at the All-Minnesota Academic Team Recognition Luncheon this spring.

Introduced two decades ago, the All-Minnesota Academic Team recognizes two-year college students for their leadership, scholastic achievements, and service to campus and area communities. The program provides scholarships to Phi Theta Kappa members while promoting excellence at two-year colleges.

Alexis Nordling

Alexis Nordling

2024 All-Minnesota Academic Team
Medical Coding Specialist Major

New Century Scholar Workforce Pathway Nominee

Age: 40
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
High school and year graduated: Urban School of San Francisco, Class of 2001 
Major and degree earning at DCTC: Medical Coding Specialist A.A.S.
Extracurricular activities at DCTC: Phi Theta Kappa, Rotaract Club, Student Senate vice president, Budget Committee, DCTC Food Pantry leader, We:LEAD Women’s Leadership Club, Creative Writing & Arts Club
DCTC projected graduation date: Spring 2024

Transfer plans: N/A
Career plans: Find a job she loves
Pastimes and hobbies: Passionate about volunteerism and holography

“I’m honored to represent the magnificent humans at Dakota County Technical College on this year’s All-Minnesota Academic Team and excited to be a New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar nominee!” Alexis said. “The support at DCTC is outstanding. Amazing opportunities, like those offered by Phi Theta Kappa, are why I encourage everyone to consider continued education. Community college is fertile ground for friendships and motivation, and I recommend continued education to every person, no matter what act of life you’re in!”

Alexis recently competed at the 2023 National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, California. Alexis placed second in the nation in the Fundamental Word Processing competition and finished in the Top 10 in the Ethics and Professionalism and Contemporary Issues competitions.

Alexis was awarded an American Association of University Women (AAUW) Scholarship from the AAUW Hastings Branch. The scholarship funded a trip to the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL), Engage, Learn and Lead: Step Into Your Power! at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland in June 2023.

Alexis is committed to a life enriched by volunteerism. “My mom is a big influence on me,” she said. “She volunteered a lot in San Francisco when I was young. She and I would work at the soup kitchen at Grace Cathedral and also at the local college radio station doing music filing and admin. When I was in high school, I volunteered on my own at the local free health clinic and then in college as an art teacher assistant at PS1 in downtown New York City from 2001 to 2004.”

Learn more about Alexis by reading the DCTC News story:

Student Spotlight: Alexis Nordling

McKenzie Koles

McKenzie Koles

2024 All-Minnesota Academic Team
Early Childhood & Youth Development Major

New Century Scholar Workforce Pathway Nominee

Age: 20
Hometown: Farmington, Minnesota
High school and year graduated: Farmington High School, Class of 2022
Major and degree earning at DCTC: Early Childhood & Youth Development A.A.S.
Extracurricular activities at DCTC: Phi Theta Kappa
DCTC projected graduation date:
Spring 2024
Transfer plans: N/A
Career plans: As long as I have been old enough to understand what a career is, I have always wanted to do something with children, specifically with children who have special needs. When I graduate from DCTC this spring, I plan on getting a job in an elementary school as a paraprofessional. I also plan on continuing my job at a nursing home.
Pastimes and hobbies: During my free time, I like to hang out with my friends and family. I also really like to take pictures with my friends.

“Making the All-Minnesota Academic Team means so much to me and is such an honor,” McKenzie said. “I would first like to thank my mom and dad for all of the dedication and support they have given me in everything I do. I am really thankful to have such wonderful parents. I would like to thank my younger brother, too.

“I would also like to thank two of my professors who have met so much to me. The first professor I would like to thank is Sharon Bergen. She is such a wonderful professor, and she always wants the best for her students. She truly cares about her students and wants us all to succeed. I am so thankful to have her as one of my professors. At the Phi Theta Kappa Induction Ceremony last spring, I chose Sharon to receive the Golden Apple Award for all of her amazing work.

“The second professor I would like to thank is Corinne Woosley. Cory is another amazing professor, and she always wants the best for her students as well. I am so blessed to have had such caring professors.”

McKenzie made the DCTC President’s List fall and spring semesters 2023 and fall semester 2022. She works while attending DCTC at the Trinity Care Center in Farmington. She has worked in the center’s Activities department for three and a half years. She averages 23 hours a week at the center on top of her full-time college schedule.

“I absolutely love my job!” McKenzie said. “I get to do all sorts of fun activities and events with the residents. For example, bingo, crafts, happy hour, root beer floats, birthday celebrations, horse racing, bowling, manicures, and trips to the Dairy Queen and Dollar Tree.”

This school year, McKenzie has also been helping at a preschool three days a week as part of her Early Childhood & Youth Development practicums. “I am getting real experience working with children,” she said. “I have really enjoyed working with the preschoolers, and I’ve enjoyed creating relationships with them. What is really neat about the preschool I am helping at is that it’s the same preschool I attended back when I was four years old.”

Jarritt Leonard

Jarritt Leonard

2024 All-Minnesota Academic Team
HVAC & Refrigeration Technology Major

New Century Scholar Transfer Pathway Nominee

Age: 23
Grew up in USAF family; resided in Alaska, Utah, and Nevada 
High school and year graduated: Hastings High School, Class of 2017
Major and degree earning at DCTC: HVAC & Refrigeration Technology A.A.S. 
Extracurricular activities at DCTC: Phi Theta Kappa, Veterans Club, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Committee 
Transfer plans:
Next earn a Technical Management A.A.S. at DCTC before pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a four-year school
Career plans:
Eventually open his own HVAC/plumbing company
Pastimes and hobbies: Enjoys working on his parent’s hobby farm and generally likes finding projects that are trade-oriented

“I’m proud to be recognized at this level,” Jarritt said. “I’m proud to be a representative of the DCTC HVAC & Refrigeration Technology program and the Air National Guard.”

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 received a $1,000 scholarship.

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.

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.”

Learn more about Jarritt by reading the DCTC News story:

Student Spotlight: Jarritt Leonard

Learn more about Phi Theta Kappa at DCTC by contacting:

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

More about the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society at DCTC…

Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) is recognized as the official honor society for community colleges by the American Association of Community Colleges. PTK provides many leadership and civic engagement opportunities for students.

To be eligible for membership, you must have completed a minimum of 12 hours of coursework at DCTC with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 and must be registered for six or more credits in the semester you’re invited. Invitations are emailed to student email accounts at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters.

Phi Theta Kappa traces its origins to the spring of 1918 when eight Missouri junior colleges for women organized one new honor society with a common mission. They chose the name Phi Theta Kappa and modeled the newly formed organization after the prestigious senior college honor society, Phi Beta Kappa.¹ PTK features the initials for the Greek words phronimon for “wisdom,” thumos for “purity,” and katharotes for “aspiration.”

¹ SOURCE: Phi Theta Kappa