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A Leader in Her Field, Tiffni Went Back for Her Bachelor’s Degree

Posted on: December 1st, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Tiffni Deeb, MCTC deputy CIOA Rocky Start

When Tiffni Deeb started college at age 18, her heart wasn’t in it. After two weeks, she dropped out of St. Cloud State University, and at age 19 her first child was born.

But Tiffni has never lacked for energy. Her first job was as a clerk typist. “I didn’t know how to type,” Tiffni explained, laughing. She started by pecking at the keyboard, and eventually her typing improved. Tiffni asked her supervisor if she could use the computer in the corner. “My supervisor responded by saying ‘Sure, but to be honest, we don’t know what that thing does.’”

Moving Up

Her enthusiasm fueled her career. “I was a pest. I offered to do all sorts of little projects, and when I finished my coworkers had to scramble to give me a new task,” she said. Eventually she was given the opportunity to attend a five-day networking training, and from there her career bloomed.

As computers evolved and the internet made its entry into homes, Tiffni moved into web development, working first at Century College as a web developer and webmaster and later at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system office in Downtown St. Paul. There, she did project and portfolio management with vice chancellors and chief information officers (CIOs) at the 31 MnSCU colleges and universities.

“There are so many people along the way who have inspired and supported me,” said Tiffni. “I am where I am due to that amazing support.”

In 2012 Tiffni came to Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) as the director of technical services. One year later the CIO fell ill, and—true to her style—she stepped forward to tackle a new project.

“Of the 31 colleges and universities in MnSCU, I was one of only a handful of female CIOs,” said Tiffni. “It can be hard to be the only woman in a room full of men. Everyone is supportive in their own ways, but when you feel like the minority in the room, you feel pressure to perform.”

Removing the Last Barrier

Tiffni had been feeling that pressure for some time. “More than 10 years ago I wondered whether becoming a CIO was a step I would ever be able to take,” she said. “I doubted myself. I was a woman without a degree—was I capable of it? Was I smart enough?”

Doubt couldn’t keep her from pursuing success. “I decided I didn’t want a door standing in my way,” she said. “If lacking a degree was my barrier, I was going to remove that barrier. I didn’t want to hear a single excuse from hiring managers.”

Tiffni took her first online class in 2001. She received her associate degree from Minnesota West Community and Technical College and later transferred to Metro State. “My education has helped me tremendously, especially with leadership skills,” she said. Her capstone class was full of non-traditional students like herself. “I learned that you can have a full career and work toward a degree at the same time. The people in my classes helped me see what I have and what I don’t have, and gave me context.”

Excelling

During her year as MCTC’s acting CIO, Tiffni had her work cut out for her. She oversaw the implementation of several new technology platforms which required converting credentials for every student and employee at the College—approximately 15,000 people. “When I think too much about hurdles, it can get overwhelming,” she said. “But I’ve learned that in order to make effective decisions, you have to be patient, and you have to listen. We were patient, we researched before we acted and our projects were successful.”

Last year—while in her role as the College’s acting CIO—Tiffni finished her bachelor’s degree at Metro State. “At first I didn’t want to attend the graduation ceremony and walk across the stage, but my family had been supporting me throughout it all and convinced me to go,” she said.

“I became both an acting CIO and a grandmother before I received my bachelor’s degree,” she said.
Tiffni’s interim role as acting CIO has since ended, and she has assumed the position of deputy CIO at MCTC. Her enthusiasm and dedication have built the foundation of her life journeys, and her achievements stand as shining examples of motivation and leadership. “I couldn’t have done what I’ve done without the support of so many amazing people,” she said. “When the barriers seem overwhelming, I remind myself that 80 percent is better than zero percent. The key for us all is to be patient, and tell ourselves what we will do—rather than what we won’t do.”

Nursing Alumni Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Posted on: December 1st, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments
Nursing

Students in MCTC’s Nursing program.

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine awarded MCTC nursing alumni Be Ho a Lifetime Achievement Award for her more than 30 years of work in the field. Be earned her associate degree in Nursing at MCTC in the 1980s shortly after her time as a nurse in the Vietnam War, and is currently working with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Read her full story on the Children’s Hospital blog.

 

Nurse with inspirational story receives lifetime achievement award

By Erin Keifenheim

Be Ho, staff RN, surgery, knew she wanted to be a nurse when she was 4½ years old, yet she never imagined that following her dream would lead her on a journey to flee her home country and start a new life halfway around the world. Now celebrating her 34th year at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Be recently was named the 2014 Lifetime Achievement winner in the annual Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Outstanding Nurses awards for her amazing nursing skills and perseverance to follow her dream.

Be’s inspirational story starts in Vietnam, where she was born. When her father had abdominal surgery in the French-run hospital there, Be was mesmerized by the French nurses with their blue eyes, long eyelashes and surgical gowns, and the kindness they showed her family. She knew from that moment that she would become a nurse someday. At the age of 9, she pleaded with her parents to send her to nursing school. She cried so much that they finally arranged a meeting for her with the director of a local hospital. He convinced her to hold off on becoming a nurse until she was old enough. Finally, when Be was 17, she couldn’t wait any longer.

“At that time, nursing was looked down on as a career,” Be said. “Girls were supposed to stay at home. Nurses were viewed as the ones who did the dirty work – changing diapers and cleaning wounds. I didn’t dare tell my family I was applying for nursing school.”

Instead, Be lied to her parents, telling them she was going to visit her cousin in the capital, but she actually took the entrance exam for nursing school. Three months later, she didn’t have the heart to sneak away again to find out the results. However, her neighbor had gone to see the results of his fiancée’s exam and saw Be’s name on the list. He came over to congratulate her, thus breaking the news to her parents. Her mother cried and was resistant, but her father persuaded her to allow Be to go to nursing school – he knew she would be a wonderful nurse; he was right. Be went on to graduate second in her class. And because she always knew she wanted to work with children, she took a job at a children’s hospital in Saigon. She eventually went on to become the hospital’s director of nursing.

In 1968, Be received a scholarship to travel to England for intensive nursing care training. In 1972, she visited Minneapolis with a group of young patients who needed open-heart surgeries. The Children’s Heart Fund, now Children’s HeartLink, sponsored her to escort the patients and care for them while they were here. During that trip, she formed relationships with the staff at Children’s – Minneapolis who thought very highly of her and recognized her potential.

Back in Vietnam, the war was continuing. Because Be had traveled outside the country multiple times, the communist leaders suspected her of being a spy.

“Every week I had to write an essay to the communist government saying that I was the country’s enemy,” Be said. “One day I was brave enough to ask why I was being forced to write these letters. They told me ‘because you are such a good nurse.’ It was very hard for me to say I was an enemy when all I wanted to do was provide nurturing and loving nursing care – just like the French nurses I saw as a child.”

Eventually, Be became worried about her future in Vietnam. Her colleagues at Children’s Heart Fund attempted to evacuate her in 1975, but she couldn’t bear to leave without saying goodbye to her family. Though she feared for her life, she said a tearful goodbye to her friends and remained in Vietnam. A few years later, she knew it was time to escape. She contacted her U.S. colleagues for assistance, under the guise that she needed to have open-heart surgery in Japan.

“I had to lie again to escape Vietnam. If I was caught, I would be sent to a concentration camp,” Be said. “I told the hospital I was working for that my grandmother was dying, when she had actually died before I was born.”

Arrangements were made for Be to travel by boat to a refugee camp in Thailand.

“I had to leave without saying goodbye to my family. I wanted to protect them in case the communist government came looking for me. I wrote a letter to my dad and left. It was very scary,” she said. “I didn’t know anyone. It was getting dark. We had to hide under coconut leaves on the boat to disguise ourselves from the communist police who were chasing us. When we finally made it to international waters, I was so happy I cried.”

Be spent five months in the refugee camp, where she worked as a clinic nurse and as a translator for the U.S. delegation. It was there that she also met her now husband, who found her in the crowd of new arrivals and arranged for her to have a place to sleep. While the camp provided safety, she knew there was more out there for her, and soon she was sponsored to work in the U.S. In August of 1980, Be arrived in Minnesota.

“I knew I wanted to work at Children’s Hospital,” Be said. “It was a place of comfort for me. I talked with the director of nursing, but because my nursing papers and transcripts were thrown overboard by pirates during my escape, I had no official paperwork. They hired me as a nursing assistant in the PICU, and I was so grateful.”

With the help of a Children’s scholarship, Be went back to school full time and got her associate’s degree in nursing from Minneapolis Community and Technical College. She was then hired as a registered nurse at Children’s and worked on 4 East (now the sixth floor), before eventually transferring to surgery.

Be is now the urology team leader in the surgery department and works with surgeons and staff to make sure they have the instruments and supplies needed for a variety of surgeries. She works to onboard new surgery nurses in urology and across other services, too.

“With every patient she works with, Be is calm, comforting and compassionate,” said Pat Buzzell, patient care manager for the surgery department. “She takes care of the whole family, reassures them and educates them so surgery isn’t a scary experience. She comes in on her days off to conduct patient family tours, and she often stays late to check in on patients. She does whatever it takes to make families comfortable, using her cheerful personality to calm their fears and put them at ease.”

Be still has a deep love for Vietnam and returns there on medical missions to provide care for children at the hospital where she used to work. She has recruited Children’s surgeons and staff to join her on these trips, where they provide education to medical teams and perform surgeries.

“Be gives everything to her patients, whether they are here or in Vietnam,” Pat said. “She works tirelessly to advocate for them, and she doesn’t give up. Because of the journey she has had and how hard she has worked to get here, Be refuses to settle for anything less than perfection. She believes in hard work and practice and has earned the respect of the surgeons, anesthesiologists and all staff on our unit. Be says it’s an honor to work with kids – I say it’s an honor to work with Be.”

Now almost 70 and pondering when to retire, Be gets emotional when she thinks about potentially leaving Children’s – her second home.

“I am so grateful to Children’s Hospital for all they have done for me,” she said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be here now. This country took me in, but this hospital gave me a second chance for my life. I love Children’s Hospital from the bottom of my heart.”

St. Paul Rondo Neighborhood Honors MCTC Law Enforcement Faculty Debbie Montgomery

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments
Debbie Montgomery

Debbie Montgomery holds a copy of a 1976 Pioneer Press story about her involvement on the St. Paul Police Force.

MCTC Law Enforcement Faculty Debbie Montgomery received a unique honor this week: The City of St. Paul named a stretch of Marshall Avenue, in the city’s historic Rondo neighborhood, after her. Read the story from the Pioneer Press here.

St. Paul honors Debbie Montgomery with street segment

The segment of Marshall Avenue between Lexington Parkway and Western Avenue soon will bear the name of a former St. Paul City Council member who grew up during the civil rights era and became the first female officer in the St. Paul Police Department.

On Wednesday, the council voted to approve a resolution co-naming the avenue after Debbie Gilbreath Montgomery. Council member Dai Thao, who sponsored the resolution, called her a “true pioneer of courage and leadership for the city of St. Paul.”

Montgomery, who attended the vote, expressed gratitude for the new street name in her honor and encouraged city leaders to embrace the growing diversity within St. Paul as important decisions are made.

“Our city is changing,” Montgomery told the council. “We have to be open. … We have to make sure that everyone is at the table — at the table when the initial discussions happen, not afterward.”

According to Dai Thao’s resolution, Montgomery was born in St. Paul’s historically black Rondo neighborhood in 1946, 12 years before the construction of Interstate 94 razed her home and cleaved the neighborhood in two.

In the late 1950s, she served as president of the St. Paul NAACP youth group, and at age 17 became the youngest person ever elected to the NAACP’s national board of directors.

The position allowed her an opportunity to rub elbows with Vice President Hubert Humphrey and march on Washington, D.C., in 1963 with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Two years later, she participated in a historic civil rights march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, Ala.

Montgomery, who graduated from St. Paul’s Central High School, went on to earn two master’s degrees in urban planning and police administration. She became the first female police officer in the St. Paul Police Department in 1975, rising up the ranks from sergeant to senior commander.

Council member Dan Bostrom, a former St. Paul police sergeant, recalled serving alongside Montgomery on the force. He told the council not to be fooled by her calm demeanor, and remembered a time when she knocked a belligerent suspect unconscious.

“When you run into a bunch of drunks during St. Patrick’s Day, yeah, we’re talking about Jekyll and Hyde here,” said Bostrom, to widespread laughter.

Montgomery served as assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety from 1991 to 1998 and was elected to the Ward 1 seat on the city council in 2004. She was unseated by Melvin Carter in the November 2007 election.

In 2008, she became an adjunct professor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Montgomery was one of seven candidates who ran for the open Ward 1 seat on the council in November 2013. She finished in fourth place, with Dai Thao winning the seat.

MCTC Celebrates Veterans

Posted on: November 4th, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

Veterans-200As Veterans Day approaches, MCTC looks back at its history of veteran support. From TRIO to student clubs to Beyond the Yellow Ribbon initiatives, the College has learned from past successes and continues to implement new, innovative programs to welcome and support veterans on campus, including several activities planned for Nov. 6.

Veterans Upward Bound

Veterans have been attending MCTC since the College was a vocational school and veterans returning from the war were looking for work.

Veterans Upward Bound (VUB), which celebrated its 40th anniversary at the College last year, is one of MCTC’s most comprehensive veteran services. The federally funded TRIO program provides short-term remedial courses for veterans to help them transition into postsecondary education. The courses, textbooks, financial aid counseling, one-on-one tutoring and all other services are free.

Former TRIO Director and Vietnam veteran Jon Westby was honored to participate in VUB’s 40th anniversary celebration last year. Westby’s history with TRIO at MCTC goes back a long time: He was the first director of VUB in 1974, and he led a national fight to keep the program alive in the late 70s, when former President Regan nearly eliminated TRIO and other veteran support programs.

“Being with other veterans helped me get back into society after the war,” he said. “It cleansed demons that we all have.”

VUB’s current Program Director Craig Asche became inspired to work with veterans after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He was a gradeschool teacher at the time and would see what the veteran parents of his students were like before and after their time in Iraq.

“Everyone I meet is someone in process,” he said. “I like to be part of that process of helping others find services and making connections.”

Welcome Center

Veterans have a place to meet on campus for camaraderie and support and to talk with other students in the Veterans Welcome Center. “This is a place where veteran students can relax, socialize and do homework,” said Asche. “It’s staffed by student veterans. There are computers and information available. It’s also a meeting room for the MCTC chapter of the Student Veterans of America.”

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon

In addition to the College’s existing services and resources for veterans, MCTC is taking steps to become a state-recognized Beyond the Yellow Ribboncampus. Beyond the Yellow Ribbon (BTYR) is a statewide program that works to connect past and future veterans with community support and resources. With encouragement from Gov. Mark Dayton, a committee of MCTC employees and students are working to bring BYTR to the College.

MCTC Political Science Instructor and U.S. Army veteran Miki Huntington sits on the committee and believes support is crucial for veterans.

“We want MCTC to be a one-stop shop for veterans and their families,” she said.

The committee has a number of plans in place to bring awareness to the community. This winter, MCTC will host the exhibit Always Lost: A Meditation on War—a traveling exhibit featuring photos, interviews and poems of deceased veterans. The exhibit will be on display in the Helland Center Dec. 15, 2014—Jan. 26, 2015.

“I hope in all these efforts that we can give back to all of those who have served for us,” said MCTC Student Life Director Tara Martinez.

MCTC Liberal Arts student Tim Ireland is the president of the College’s Student Veteran Association (SVA) chapter and is very active in organizing veteran-centered events and initiatives like BTYR at MCTC.

“I put everything into what I do and my post-service work is just as important as when I was in uniform,” he said.

Military Friendly School

MCTC was named a military friendly school for the fourth time this year. The honor, given by Victory Media, recognizes an institution’s military culture, flexibility, support services and financial assistance for veterans.

Veterans Day Recognition Events Nov. 3-7

This fall, MCTC planted a tree in its outdoor plaza in honor of Veterans Day (pictured, right) and the many veteran-supportive initiatives underway at the College. In addition, the community is invited to the MCTC Veterans Day recognition event “Honoring All Who Served” on Thursday, Nov. 6 from noon–1:30 p.m. The following events will take place:

  • Noon—Flag raising and veterans tree dedication ceremony featuring the MCTC Choir and Public Safety Color Guard (outdoor plaza flagpole)
  • 12:15–1:30 p.m.—Veterans Day Recognition Program (H.1002)

The MCTC community is also invited to visit the “Remember a Vet” display in the Hennepin Ave. Skyway from Nov. 3–7.

Into the Future

Asche, an MCTC Veteran Certifying Official and other individuals are available to assist veterans in the enrollment process and to provide guidance in the veterans benefit application process. As MCTC heads into the future and welcomes veterans at every point, the College strives to remain flexible and relevant for its entire community.

2014 Cinema Excellence Awards Winners

Posted on: November 4th, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

CinemaAwards2014-200The MCTC Cinema Division has announced the winners of its 2014 Excellence Awards. The Excellence Awards ceremony brings MCTC students, faculty, staff and the local film community together to recognize students for their work and award scholarships.

Click here to see the winning videos.

Sponsors

The Excellence Awards are generously sponsored by: