2024 Outstanding Alumna of the Year: Michaela Holman-Schmidt

2019 grad works as administrative assistant supporting several departments at DCTC

Michaela Holman-Schmidt, 26, a 2019 graduate, has been named the 2024 Outstanding Alumna of the Year at Dakota County Technical College. The Outstanding Alumni Award recognizes individuals who have shown exceptional leadership, work ethic, and dedication as a part of the DCTC community.

Michaela earned an Accounting Clerk diploma from DCTC in 2019. She went on to complete an A.S. in Individualized Studies in 2022 before transferring to Metropolitan State University, where she earned a B.S. in Individualized Studies, graduating magna cum laude in 2023.

“I am humbled by receiving this award,” Michaela said. “I work very hard to meet the needs of the department, school, and stakeholders. I can see campus processes through multiple lenses as a student, alumna, and staff member. This puts me in a unique position where my insights are heard and valued by others at multiple levels.”

Michaela Holman-Schmidt

She offered a  big thank-you to Meri Kosman, veterinary technician faculty, who nominated her for the annual award. “I am grateful that others see how hard I work,” Michaela said, “and the dedication I have to serve the students, faculty, and staff at DCTC.”

While a student at at the college, Michaela participated in TRIO/Student Support Services. She first started working at DCTC as a TRIO/Upward Bound tutor, filling that role for a year and a half. Today, she works at DCTC as an administrative assistant, using her expertise to support several departments at the college, including Blue Knights athletics, TRIO, Student Life, Customized Training, Student Services, Academic Affairs, and the Minnesota Transportation Center of Excellence.

Michaela served on the DCTC Alumni Association Advisory Board as a member and secretary from 2021 to  2024. You can learn more about her experience on the board by reading the DCTC News story: “Alumni Advisory Board Update.”

“While being part of the board, I gained a deeper appreciation for connecting with my community,” she said. “At the beginning of my employment, I think I just went to meetings or trainings because I felt I had to. Now, I feel a sense of purpose of attending the trainings/meetings in order to better understand myself on a developmental level, but also gain more knowledge of other experiences of those in my community of which I serve.”

Michaela has centered her long-range education plans on obtaining a graduate degree in the next 10 years or so. She has looked at various degree options in organizational leadership, business (M.B.A.), and law (LL.M or J.D.).

“I have many interests, so I am not sure which route I will take as of now,” she said. “My long-range career plans include finding a position that stabilizes my income, aligns with my values, and gives me the opportunity to make a lasting positive impact on my workplace and the people I work with.”

Faculty perspective: Meri Kosman, CVT, LATG

Meri Kosman

“Since graduating from DCTC, Michaela has continued to distinguish herself through her noteworthy contributions to anything that comes across her desk. She demonstrates a high level of professionalism, innovation, and leadership, reflecting the values instilled in her during her time at DCTC.

“Furthermore, Michaela has remained actively engaged with our institution in alumni events, mentorship programs, or other events on campus. Her willingness to give back to the community showcases her commitment to fostering a strong and supportive network for current students and fellow alumni.

“Beyond her professional achievements, Michaela exemplifies the qualities of an ideal alumni representative. She consistently demonstrates integrity, compassion, and a genuine commitment to making a positive impact in her community and beyond. Her personal and professional accomplishments reflect positively on the education and values instilled by DCTC.”

Meri Kosman, CVT, LATG
Veterinary Technician Faculty
Dakota County Technical College

Director perspective: TJ McCann

TJ McCann

“As Michaela’s supervisor, I am always appreciative of her can-do attitude. No task or ask from me is ever too big. She has a vast wealth of institutional knowledge that all members of the Academic Affairs department can tap into.

“Michaela is patient, kind, and always has the time to help anyone who approaches her. She continues to take on a greater leadership role in the department, where her input is being sought on more and more important projects and issues.

“Ideas and initiatives that she has introduced have improved department efficiency and have made coming to work even more enjoyable. She truly embodies all that is good about this institution. I am extremely proud that she is being recognized as the 2024 Outstanding Alumna of the Year.”

TJ McCann
Director of Academic Operations
Dakota County Technical College

More about Michaela…

Michaela Holman-Schmidt

Originally from Burnsville, Minnesota, Michaela graduated from Burnsville High School, Class of 2015. Along with her B.S., A.S., and diploma, she is certified in Mental Health First Aid, Naloxone Training, and Microsoft Access Introduction 2019.

Michaela is actively engaged in volunteer work, helping out at Ronald McDonald House, Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), the YMCA, Salvation Army, and Bowls for Brainpower. She assists with river cleanup, mulching, and other landscaping duties at local and state parks. She also works at homeless shelters and helps with landscaping and feeding animals at local farms.

Michaela’s family includes her mom, Heather, who works in accounts payable at Galaxie Floor Stores, her dad, Mick, an automotive technician at TGK Automotive, her stepmom, Tamara, a floral designer and business owner, and her half-brother, Mikey, 19, a car enthusiast and parts specialist.

In her free time, Michaela enjoys reading, singing, binge-watching TV, spending time outside, taking sunset pictures, dancing, roller skating, working out, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and sleeping.

Michaela resides in Eagan, Minnesota.

Michaela college, family, and life gallery

Michaela Holman-Schmidt Q & A

Michaela Holman-Schmidt

What coursework interested you the most during your time in the Individualized Studies programs at DCTC and Metro State?

Overall having the option to choose my own coursework was very impactful. I not only reviewed what classes were offered each semester, but which classes aligned more with my interests and values. I took a variety of courses in subjects, including psychology, sociology, human resource management, human services, and ethics.

At Metropolitan State, I took a course called Interviewing and Counseling skills. This course is primarily intended for those students going into counseling or social work, but I took the course because there is a heavy psychological emphasis in the course about how we talk to people and engage in meaningful conversations.

An important piece I took from this course was that listening and active listening are two very different things. Listening is one aspect, but hearing someone, empathizing, and understanding what they are saying are key takeaways I try to remember in my everyday life.

What advice would you give students attempting to balance schedules brimming with college, job, and personal responsibilities?

I would say: Take a deep breath! Being able to recognize you can’t be in more than one place is key to understanding time management. I use a planner and multiple calendars every day. Whether you are scheduling appointments, working, or writing down due dates for assignments, I found the planner was the easiest, most accessible tool in helping with time management.

I would also say you need to give yourself grace. You can’t be everything to everyone, so you need to balance your commitments and the mental capacity you have so you don’t burn out.

What do you find most engaging about your work supporting a wide range of departments at DCTC?

What engages me most is human connection. Being able to bond and get to know my coworkers is an invaluable experience. Hearing others and being heard are very important pieces in the workplace. We are all collectively working towards a common goal, but the more we can connect personally, the easier the common work becomes.

Everyone at DCTC has supported me in my professional and personal life. I find that so relieving because I work somewhere where I can share these things and have support from those I surround myself with.

What did you enjoy most about your job as a TRIO/Upward Bound tutor?

I got to experience being a leader, and a teacher instead of being a student. Understanding and helping students through challenging assignments made me feel challenged as someone who is a lifelong learner. Seeing students accomplish their assignments, grades, and overall high school experience was amazing.

The gratitude I feel is indescribable as I made connections with the students and helped make an impact on their learning. The experience is something I won’t forget!

Three words that describe you as an administrative professional:

Why should alumni consider sharing their time, expertise, and resources with the campus community?

It’s important to connect with your community. Being engaged and participating in something larger than yourself can be fulfilling. Everyone sees the world through different lenses, and they have different experiences. You need these and many voices to work through “what can make DCTC better? “How can we navigate higher engagement from students and alumni?”

The Alumni Advisory Board not only needs your voices but needs your input on how to maintain the cultural environment we have created for students, but also how to improve upon it.

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

I think foundationally, my mom has influenced me the most. She raised me to be strong, independent, and thoughtful when it comes to my experience in how I navigate the world.

I have also had multiple teachers, friends, college instructors, and mentors who have influenced me. You need multiple voices and views from people so that you can effectively make informed decisions on life matters. Not only do you need to trust in yourself, but you can confide in your ‘cookie people’ (people whom you trust and feel safe with) to help you navigate through life.

If you could make one thing happen on Earth right now, what would it be?

There are MANY thoughts that come to mind, but the main one is affordable housing. Millennials and older Gen Z folks are experiencing the worst housing crisis right now I feel like. Most of us don’t qualify for Section 8 or other assisted housing, so we are left to either pick high-rent living, stay with parents, or live with roommates whom we may or may not like.

In general, there is a housing/livable wage crisis because as consumable prices keep rising, our income stays rather flat. Inflation brings the cost of EVERYTHING up—we can’t afford anything!

One word that best describes your experience at DCTC:


Michaela Holman-Schmidt 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: I like watching football and going to the games at U.S. Bank Stadium; I actively weight-lift as well
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Jeju Island and Seoul, South Korea, to see the cherry blossom tree festival
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: I have two entries for this one! I swam with a dolphin at SeaWorld, San Diego, and I went on the Slingshot ride at the Minnesota State Fair that shoots you about 100 feet into the air!
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Pay off my student loans 2) Buy a townhome 3) Support my immediate family financially as they need
  5. Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: Fire Country (TV series)
  6. Time period (past or future) you would explore if you could time travel: 1950s–1960s; the music creations during this time were so influential—and the impact they had on society resulted in some historical pieces I would’ve liked to experience myself; artists like Elvis, Johnny Cash, Paul Anka, and The Flamingos have created masterpieces that influenced a lot of feelings and societal change in the past and still affect the present
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in your life: Providing a loving, comforting, and financially stable home for a family
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Hummingbird
  9. Dream occupation: A singer
  10. Person you would most like to meet: I would have loved to meet Prince because he was an artistic genius and a showstopping performer! For those still living, I would love to meet BTS. Their music is beautiful and empowering. They have also made a huge impact on the South Korean culture, government, and the world with their lyrics and deeper meaning that bring people together. Music can unite people globally, and they are one of the groups that have done so and made it look effortless!
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Auto mechanics—I would love to be able to learn/understand cars more and how to repair them!
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Inequity
Learn more about the Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award and the DCTC Foundation by contacting:

Jenna Baumgard
Foundation Development Director
Dakota County Technical College

Learn more about Dakota County Technical College by contacting:

Room 2-110

Honorable Mention Nominee
Ann (Swails) Fritz, Interior Design A.A.S. (2004)