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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 No Comments

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.”

MnSCU and MCTC Waive Application Fee for High Schoolers Oct. 27–31

Posted on: October 6th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

High school students.For a limited time, college and university application fees will be waived throughout the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (MnSCU) in recognition of College Knowledge Month, a statewide effort to provide every interested person—especially underrepresented individuals—with the opportunity to apply to college. Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) will participate in this initiative, waiving application fees for the week of October 27–31.

“Our colleges and universities are committed to making sure every Minnesotan has access to an extraordinary education,” said Steven Rosenstone, MnSCU chancellor. “College Knowledge Month is a wonderful opportunity for us to encourage more people to apply for college. It gives our colleges and universities an opportunity to show students who might otherwise think college is beyond their reach that resources are available to help them pay for higher education and complete their degree.”

College Knowledge Month encourages high schools and post-secondary institutions to collaborate to engage, inform and support students as they enter into the college application process. The month-long event ends with a week of waived application fees for any interested individuals. Application fees for qualified low-income students are always waived at all MnSCU colleges and universities.

“We are delighted to offer the application fee waiver as a way to further encourage future students to visit our campus and begin planning their transition to college,” said Laura Fedock, dean of Enrollment Management.

For a complete list of participating colleges and universities, visit the MnSCU website here. To apply to MCTC, click here.

Graco Grant Provides MCTC with Scholarships, Equipment

Posted on: June 24th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Graco and MCTC form industry partnerships.A generous donation from Graco, Inc. will provide Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) with three pieces of machining equipment as well as $10,000 in scholarship funds for first-generation college students.

Long-term industry partnerships with local businesses have been fostered by members of the MCTC faculty, and have enabled the College’s Machine Tool Technology program to maintain updated technology for its students. “Our connections with Graco have allowed MCTC’s program to stay relevant,” said Machine Tool Technology Instructor Kim Munson.

Funds from this grant will allow the program to acquire three pieces of equipment: the Mazak CNC machine and simulators will allow students to virtually design and test machining parts for functionality. “Students will have the opportunity to better their knowledge of machining with this equipment,” said Munson. “It’s where the industry is going.”

In addition to the equipment, Graco is providing scholarship funds for Power of YOU students enrolled at MCTC. The Power of YOU program covers the costs of tuition and fees for two years for students who have families with low incomes, are first-generation college students or identify as students of color. Read about recent scholarship winners here.

“Having access to state-of-the-art equipment will make a profound impact on Machine Tool Technology students’ abilities to enhance their education and better prepare them to join the workforce after graduation,” said Angie Wordell, operations director at Graco. Angie was responsible for establishing a summer internship program placing MCTC Machine Tool Technology students with Graco—a partnership which could lead to a path to employment for some hard-working students.
“Several of my students through the years have gone on to be hired at Graco,” said Munson. “This internship program creates a pathway that strengthens our students’ connection to industry jobs.”

Photo: Angie Wordell, Graco operations director; Kim Munson, MCTC Machine Tool Technology Instructor; Mike Christenson, MCTC associate vice president of Workforce Development.