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MCTC Hosts National Photography Exhibit “Always Lost: A Meditation on War”

Posted on: December 9th, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

Always Lost photo exhibitExhibit runs Dec. 15–Jan. 23; features award-winning photos and literary works about war

Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) is honored to host the national traveling photography exhibit titled Always Lost: A Meditation on War. The memorial, comprised of thousands of photographs of U.S. military veterans and various literary works, was created by Western Nevada College and has been touring the country since 2010. It has received praise nationwide for its poignant memorials of past, current and future veterans.

The exhibit will be on display on the third floor of the MCTC Helland Student Center between Dec. 15 and Jan. 23 and can be viewed during MCTC’s hours of operation. A private space will be available adjacent to the exhibit for reflection. Images in the exhibit may contain graphic content and may not be suitable for children.

“The exhibit allows us to reflect on the costs of war, and highlights the importance of bringing service members all the way home, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well,” said Miki Huntington, MCTC Political Science instructor and veteran.

MCTC will host the exhibit in support of its participation in the statewide Beyond the Yellow Ribbon (BYTR) initiative. This initiative is intended to provide comprehensive support, resources and recognition for veterans on college campuses. The MCTC BTYR initiative is driven by a committee consisting of students, faculty and staff at the College.

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.

Felisha Burns: Seeking a Career, Not Just a Job

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by insidemctc 1 Comment

Felisha Burns, MCTC alumFelisha Burns had to grow up fast.

A native of South Minneapolis, she lost her mother at age 13. “My dad raised me, but he worked a lot,” she said. “He worked second shift at the postal service. If I got home from school and he wasn’t there, I had to work things out for myself.”

She began working at age 14—first at Burger King, then at a gas station near Loring Park in Downtown Minneapolis. “I worked there for awhile and made enough to pay for my own place. It was great while I was young, but eventually I asked myself if I wanted to be doing that for the rest of my life.”

When Felisha’s cousin told her she was considering going back to school, Felisha realized it was a great next step. “We did it together,” she said. “That’s when my journey began.”

When Felisha began studying at the school then known as Minneapolis Community College (MCC), she focused her energy on acquiring one degree. “When I was done just two years later, the college was called MCTC, and I had five diplomas and certificates.”

Felisha knew she wanted to work in a business office, and throughout her studies in Business Office Technology picked up skills in keyboarding, data entry, business math and specialized office support. She needed a job to support herself during school, and started working at TCF Bank, where she would stay for five years. During her time at MCTC, Felisha was invited to participate in a business speaking competition in Duluth. “I was surprised my instructor asked me, but she believed I could succeed,” she said. “When I arrived at the competition and drew a random speech topic, it turned out to be the same topic I focused on all semester in class. I knew I could deliver that speech.”

As graduation grew closer, Felisha grew into her adult self. “When my classmates and I first started at the College, we didn’t have a clue who each other was,” she said. “But the closer I got to graduation, the more nervous I was, and my classmates felt the same way. We all had things going on in our lives. We all knew what our goals were and we all supported each other.” Felisha and her classmates attended graduation together in the Northrup Auditorium.

Furthering her career, Felisha moved from TCF to a position with Hennepin County, where she provided economic assistance to elderly or disabled individuals. “I worked there for another five years,” said Felisha. “It gave me an understanding of our society and people who are in need. Ever since then I’ve been committed to working with people in need. I love it.”

Now, 15 years after she graduated from MCTC, Felisha works with the City of Minneapolis, working as a personal assistant and attending outreach events. “I work with the Step Up program, adults, dislocated workers, families and high school age students,” she said. “Whenever I see young people come in, I ask if they’re planning to go to school.”

Felisha looks back at the last two decades and sees much to be proud of. “I went from low income to the middle class,” she said. “I tell other young people that I had to grow up fast, and if I can make this success happen, so can they. Along the way they’ll meet some amazing people, and they just need to start the process.”