MCTC

The MCTC News Blog

Spirit and Soul: A Celebration of Black Performance Styles

Posted on: March 31st, 2015 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

Spirit and Soul photoThe Basilica of Saint Mary and Minneapolis Community and Technical College present Spirit and Soul, A Celebration of Black Performance Styles. This evening of dance, song, and poetry will bring to you performance styles of the Caribbean, West Africa, Brazil, and the United States. The night will be a festive exploration of how elements of African musical traditions transformed, or blended, with European music, catalyzing new forms of expression from capoeira to rock and roll.

When: Friday April 17, 7–9 p.m.

Where: Basilica of Saint Mary
1600 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403

This event is FREE and open to the public! Parking is also free in the MCTC ramp. For more information, contact Sandy Jacobson at sandra.jacobson@minneapolis.edu or 612-659-6316.

Artwork for this event was created by MCTC student Edward Johnson, featured in this fall 2014 City College News story.

St. Paul Police Department Swears in Nation’s First Karen Officer—an MCTC TRIO Starting Point Graduate

Posted on: December 23rd, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

The St. Paul police department has made the news on a few occasions recently.

Earlier this fall, it welcomed Kadra Mohamed, the first woman of Somali descent to the department—a move made possible by the announcement that the police department approved an option for employees to wear a police-issued head scarf.

Last week, the department swore in the nation’s first Karen officer. Ler Htoo is a graduate of the Law Enforcement program run jointly by Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) and Hennepin Technical College. The Karen ethnic group originates from the country of Myanmar, and there are about 8,500 Karen individuals living in Minnesota. During his time at MCTC, Ler was a student in the College’s TRIO Starting Point program.

(You can also read the story of Deborah Montgomery, MCTC Law Enforcement instructor, who was the first woman hired to the St. Paul police department back in 1975.)

The full story is pasted below, and available from the St. Paul Pioneer Press here.

St. Paul swears in nation’s first Karen police officer

Article by: JAMES WALSH , Star Tribune | Updated: December 19, 2014 – 9:42 AM

Ler Htoo graduated from the St. Paul Police Academy on Thursday night, becoming what is believed to be the first police officer from Myanmar’s Karen ethnic group in the United States.

When you are the first member of your community, your culture, to become something as quintessentially American as a police officer, well, you might be a little cautious about tooting your own horn.

That’s why, as he was about to graduate from the St. Paul Police Academy Thursday night and become what is believed to be the first Karen police officer in the United States, Ler Htoo wasn’t quite ready to mark the accomplishment.

“It’s not over yet,” he said before the ceremony, looking to the next 16 weeks of field training with veteran officers. “I’m not quite there yet.”

Still, he’s come a long way.

Htoo spent the first three years of his life in his native Myanmar and the next 15 in refugee camps in Thailand. In 2009, when Htoo was 18, he and his family moved to St. Paul. In 2011, he graduated from St. Paul’s Como Park High School, where he ran track and cross country. He then graduated from Hennepin County Technical College after studying law enforcement.

His interest in becoming a cop was always strong. He joined the St. Paul Police Explorer Program before becoming an award-winning member of the department’s community liaison program, helping members of St. Paul’s Karen community navigate the laws and customs of a new country.

Earlier this year, Htoo was a finalist for civilian employee of the year for his liaison work — teaching in-service classes, making presentations to business associations and schools and helping organize Karen youth groups and elder meetings.

“This is what I like to do. I want to help people,” Htoo said. “I like when people approach me. I want to be the one they can count on in my community.”

As the St. Paul Police band played “Pomp and Circumstance” from the Johnson High School auditorium balcony Thursday night, new officers marched to the stage, preparing to take their place among the state’s second-largest police department. An auditorium filled with families and friends taking photos, shooting videos and registering memories, looked on with pride.

“Take pride in the work you do, for the department, for each other and for the city of St. Paul,” St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith told them. “Know that your actions will be judged not just by what you do, but how you do it.”

Htoo is part of the largest — and most diverse — incoming class of new St. Paul police officers in at least 30 years. Forty-seven officers were sworn in Thursday. Five of the graduates are women, one is Latino, three are African-American, nine are Asian, 15 are military veterans.

The class swells the ranks of the St. Paul Police Department to 615 sworn officers, the most in the city’s history.

‘A huge breakthrough’

Karen leaders praised Smith’s choice in picking Htoo.

Saw Morrison, a program manager with the Karen Organization of Minnesota, said Htoo’s hiring represents a door opening for the Karen in Minnesota — of opportunity and responsibility to give back to the broader community.

Htoo, he said, is “passionate and committed. His goal is very clear, to help the community and represent the whole community.”

Chong Vang, executive director of the Karen Organization of Minnesota, was asked about the impact of Htoo becoming a cop.

“It’s huge,” he said. “We have had a number of conversations about how to get a Karen person on the force, about how to improve cultural competency. This is a huge breakthrough for the community and for Ler, too.”

There are an estimated 8,500 Karen in Minnesota. The ethnic group was persecuted in its native Myanmar.

Not only will Htoo be able to help his fellow officers better understand the growing Karen community, but he will help the community better understand its responsibilities and expectations here in the United States, Vang said.

“He can educate the community about the police force and their role,” he said. “That’s important, for a community that has been persecuted by the [Myanmar] government in the past.”

Vang was asked if being the first Karen officer in Minnesota, and possibly the nation, puts pressure on Htoo.

“There is always a level of pressure,” he said. “But Ler Htoo is smart. He has a good head on his shoulders. I think he will be able to navigate the challenges that will come his way. He is not shy about talking about the laws and regulations and what is OK and not OK.”

Before he feels completely comfortable doing that, Htoo acknowledged, he has a bit more work to do.

“You have to be constantly learning. With this job, you can’t stop learning,” he said, looking forward to the next four months with excitement — and a little nervousness. “With all the laws and the statutes, there is much to know.”

James Walsh • 651-925-5041

 

MCTC, Augsburg & Others to Diversify Teacher Workforce

Posted on: December 23rd, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

Bush_GrantSTORYMinneapolis Community and Technical College will collaborate with Augsburg College, Minneapolis Public Schools and Saint Paul Public Schools to utilize funds from a recent Bush Foundation grant to build educational infrastructure that intentionally recruits teacher candidates of color, improves their clinical experiences while training, and supports their smooth transition into a teaching career.

“Currently, about 97 percent of teachers in Minnesota are white,” said Kristy Snyder, dean of Academic Foundations. “MCTC has a strong record of engaging future teachers of color in our culturally competent teacher education program to prepare them for their future classrooms. Around 60 percent of students in MCTC’s educational programs are students of color. This grant encourages creative ways to recruit and retain teacher candidates of color, and because of that, Augsburg reached out to us to collaborate with them.”

This effort to recruit and support teacher candidates of color comes amidst the climate of teacher shortages in areas like special education and ESOL, and also in light of a large portion of the state teacher population approaching retirement age. The grant will strengthen the existing connection between MCTC’s two-year program and transfer opportunities to Augsburg while providing supplementary support to candidates to ensure their success as new teachers.

“The program at MCTC is very focused on cultural competency,” said Snyder. “For this reason, we currently attract many teacher candidates of color. By strengthening our articulation agreement with Augsburg, we strengthen the incentive for candidates to complete MCTC’s program, transfer and be placed.”

“Our greater goal is to utilize our community resources to close the state’s achievement gap,” said Snyder. “This is the perfect opportunity to make use of the talent and experience in our own communities.”

MCTC will host a Future Teacher Conference on March 7 for individuals interested in learning more about MCTC’s educational programs. Registration will be available soon on the Minneapolis Public Schools website.

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.”