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Join MCTC for a Celebration of Law Enforcement Instructor Debbie Montgomery Oct. 5

Posted on: September 22nd, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Debbie Montgomery, MCTCTrailblazer, community leader, politician, senior commander and Minneapolis Community and Technical College Law Enforcement instructor—that’s part of Debbie Montgomery’s story.

Debbie is honored to share her wisdom from her career as the first female, as well as the first African American female, St. Paul City police officer. Montgomery was also the youngest member ever elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Recently a street segment in St. Paul was named after her.

Please join us for a gathering at which she will share with some of the highlights of her career. Drawing upon her experience, Montgomery also will offer some insights and reflections into the growing rift between police and communities of color.

  • Monday, Oct. 5
  • 1–2 p.m.
  • L.3100

MCTC English Instructor Shannon Gibney Celebrates Novel Release at the Loft Literary Center

Posted on: September 21st, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Join the Loft Literary Center’s Story of the Book series featuring MCTC English Instructor Shannon Gibney on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.

From the Loft’s announcement:

Young adult author Shannon Gibney celebrates the release of her novel See No Color as part of the Loft Literary Center‘s reading series called Story of the Book. Gibney will share the story of how her book came to be during a conversation with Lisa Marie Brimmer, and read excerpts from the novel. See No Color explores themes of identity and belonging in the context of transracial adoption.

Shannon Gibney is a writer, educator, and activist in Minneapolis. Her young adult novel See No Color, will be released by Carolrhoda Lab in November 2015. Her writing has appeared in a variety of venues, including The Crisis, Gawker, and Inside Higher Education. Gibney is a professor of English at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), where she teaches critical and creative writing, journalism, and African diasporic topics. A former Bush Artist Fellow, she lives with her husband and children in Minneapolis.

Lisa Marie Brimmer is a writer and performance artist. She is a two-time Givens Foundation for African American Literature fellow and has received a Playwrights’ Center Many Voices Fellowship. She is a contributing writer for Gazillion Voices Magazine, a member of Savage Umbrella Theater Company, and board member of Patrick’s Cabaret. Her work has been published in Ishmael Reed’s Konch Magazine and her improvisational music collective, High Society, has been featured on Minnesota Public Radio and KFAI.

There is a suggested admission fee of $5–10 for this event.

Philosophy Students Take to the Air

Posted on: September 16th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Last spring, MCTC Philosophy students had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion titled What Difference Does Philosophy Make? on KFAI’s Truth to Tell radio show. Students Priscilla Mobosi, Alberto Martell and Kelly Watson were joined by MCTC Faculty Members Ruthanne Crapo and Maran Wolston. Listen to their show here!

From the Truth to Tell website:

In the current debate about where to invest our public higher education dollars, the study of philosophy doesn’t make it very high on the priorities list. This is especially true when it comes to institutions that serve low-income and working-class students—institutions like Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). It’s all well and good for upper-middle-class students at private liberal arts colleges to spend time searching for the meaning of life in a philosophy class, or exploring their inner poet in a literature seminar. But first-generation college students don’t have time for all that. They need an education that leads to a career. And what does studying philosophy have to do with that?

MPS Summer College Academy Graduates 1st Class of EL Students from MCTC

Posted on: August 31st, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments
MPS English learner students at MCTC.

MCTC Interim President Avelino Mills-Novoa addressed the graduating Summer College Academy class.

On July 30, Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) celebrated 117 English Learner (EL) students graduating from Summer College Academy classes.

As immigrants and first-generation Americans, EL students often must overcome tremendous adversity to pursue higher education and find jobs. A partnership between MCTC and Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), the Summer College Academy provides academic guidance and direction at a critical juncture in EL students’ academic journeys.

High school students and recent EL graduates participating in the program receive the opportunity to experience college-level language instruction, earn an English credit, and prepare for higher education. In addition, the program’s classes help teach students to utilize their unique backgrounds and multilingualism as strengths critical to their success.

The goal of the Summer College Academy is to accelerate the graduation rate for EL students while reducing or eliminating the need for remedial classes when an EL student starts college.

Under the direction of MPS Deputy Education Officer Elia Dimayuga-Bruggeman and with the support of MCTC instructors, the 117 EL students received three levels of reading and writing classes on the MCTC campus over the course of eight weeks this summer.

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Ms. Dimayuga-Bruggeman expressed excitement about the collaborative nature of the program. “By working together, we can move beyond individual efforts and unleash the power of collaboration that will help ensure Minneapolis English Learners can go to college and be prepared for successful futures,” she said. “The partnership between MPS and MCTC to provide our English Learners college-level courses through the Summer College Academy will advance our students on their journey toward high school graduation and place them in a pathway to college and career readiness.”

The program culminated in a Family Celebration and Career Fair, where families and students were provided with information on how to access college as well as different careers that lead to family-sustaining jobs. Participating schools included Wellstone International High School, Edison High School, Henry High School, South High School, Southwest High School, Washburn High School, Roosevelt High School, and Heritage Academy of Science and Technology.

MCTC Alum Recognized for Local American Indian Women’s Fitness Initiative

Posted on: August 31st, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Lucie, MCTC Graphic Design alumMCTC Graphic Design alum Lucie Skjefte contacted her former MCTC instructors with excitement recently. Beyond her college involvement, graduation, scholarships and transfer to the highly-esteemed Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Lucie has made even more waves in the local community.

Former president of the MCTC UNITE student club and an active advocate for native communities, Lucie—along with her sister and others—founded KweStrong, a local triathlon comprised of American Indian women.

The canoe-bike-run event celebrated its fourth year this summer.

“Lucie is a wonderful example of the power and determination of the students who have entered and passed through our institution and become leaders in our community,” said Bill Hendricks, MCTC Graphic Design instructor.

The original Star Tribune story is posted below. Read Lucie’s story here.

Fitness, pride is potent combination for indigenous women’s group

KWESTRONG triathlon is a centerpiece event, drawing many from tribes across the Midwest.
By Mackenzie Lobby Havey, special to the Star Tribune

The sight of 166 American Indian women and girls paddling across the calm waters of Lake Calhoun in the early hours of Saturday morning represented an intersection of past, present and future.

Clad in brightly colored life jackets, the women ranged in age from 9 to 70 and came from tribes in Iowa, Nebraska, Canada and elsewhere. They put in their silver aluminum canoes on the south beach and paddled north in the direction of the shops, bars, restaurants and high-rises of Uptown.

They tread on what once was native land — Dakota to be specific. Long before the European settlers arrived, Lake Calhoun was largely surrounded by wetlands and known by its ancestral name: Mde Maka Ska, or “White Earth Lake.” Back then, the native people who lived in the region fished and harvested wild rice from the lake, as well as gardened on nearby lands.

Today, the bustling Calhoun has a different makeup, so the vision of indigenous women making their way together across the lake was striking. Taking part in what is known as the KweStrong Triathlon, women came together for a fourth year to compete in the canoe-bike-run event. “Kwe” is the Ojibwe word for “woman.”

Founded in 2010, KweStrong is the idea of Korina Barry, 28, a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and twin sisters Lisa and Lucie Skjefte, both 33 and belonging to the Red Lake Nation. Runners themselves, they found that they were constantly getting questions from other indigenous women about how and where to work out in the city. This inspired them to start the triathlon with a goal of inspiring women to be healthy and physically active.

“When we first started this, there were a lot of races every weekend, but we didn’t see many women of color and native women, so we wanted to create a space for that,” said Barry, who is the director of outreach at the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota’s School of Social Work.

“At the time, we didn’t know anything about permits, and none of us had ever participated in a triathlon or any other race where there was registration and bib numbers,” recalled Lisa Skjefte, who is the Indian community liaison for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. “Even still, we ended up with almost 80 women participating, and the beauty of what we witnessed was amazing — 30 canoes with women and their daughters and children.

That single event ended up blossoming into something much larger. KweStrong does weekly canoe instruction each summer on Lake Calhoun, and in the winter the group organizes a snowshoe race. In the process it has gained support from local Indian leaders and others, like Wheels of Fun, which offer equipment, and Allina Hospitals, which provides sponsorship.

The women say that creating a community of active Indian women has been important, not just for those they’ve recruited to participate in KweStrong events but also for themselves.

“There’s something that happens when I’m running and I reach that point of wanting to break down and then all of a sudden I find strength in the people I run with,” Lisa Skjefte said. “Suddenly everything becomes clear — the water sparkles brighter and the trees shine more. Even if my mind wants to give up, my connection to this land and other native women is strong and I know I can do it.”

With canoeing being a fundamental part of the KweStrong event docket, she said women draw a significant sense of ancestral strength from the local lakes and rivers.

“I  tell the women that it’s in our blood. We are expert canoeists; it’s written into our bloodline and is so important to our way of life and who we are as native people,” she added.

Through the triathlon and other events, KweStrong is working to emphasize the importance of creating a legacy of health and community engagement for Indian women. It’s about helping women connect to their heritage, while lighting the way for a brighter future.

Indeed, there were plenty of examples of the KweStrong mission at work last Saturday. After participating in the triathlon last year, Valerie LaFave, 51, of Red Lake Nation challenged her daughter, granddaughter and several cousins to compete, also bringing her mom along for support and encouragement.

“Being among the other Native American women at the triathlon last year was really empowering, and I wanted my daughter and granddaughter to experience that too,” she said. “I wanted to lead by example and show them that anything is possible.”

“We envision a healthy, vibrant community, not just for the ones here and now, but for our future generations,” Lisa Skjefte said.