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Biotechnology Program Named Finalist for Tekne Awards

Posted on: September 22nd, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

TekneBiotechSTORYThe Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) named Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s Biotechnology Program as one of 36 finalists for the 15th annual Tekne Awards, which will be held on Thursday, Nov. 13 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The program is a finalist in the workforce development award category, which honors innovative approaches to training workers in transition or youth with technology skills and successfully matching them to jobs that meet the needs of Minnesota companies. Other category finalists include Creating IT Futures Foundation (Downers, IL) and Genesis 10 (St. Paul).

“For 15 years, the MHTA has honored the technological innovators of Minnesota,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, president of MHTA. “We’re delighted to see such a fantastic display of technological advancements this year, and are proud to shine a light on our state’s outstanding science and technology industry.”

Finalists will gather to be recognized for their vast achievements in the state’s tech-based economy. The finalists span twelve categories recognizing the organizations, products and leaders driving technological innovation locally. The Tekne Awards honor those who have played a part in discovering new technologies impacting the lives and futures of people living in Minnesota and all over the world.

“MCTC’s biotechnology program is interdisciplinary, leading to multiple career paths and diverse higher education opportunities, serving biotech students and science majors. We are very grateful to MCTC and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities support for making this happen,” said Chemistry and Biotechnology faculty Rehka Ganaganur.

This nomination comes two years after the College announced a biotechnology partnership with the University of Minnesota and Ganganur recognizes how local academic and industry partners have come together to make Biotechnology a unique, award-worthy program.

“Minnesota’s scientific industry, and the universities of higher education including the University of Minnesota have made the program robust through extending a wide range of partnerships, transfer of courses, equipment, internships, jobs, scholarships and research opportunities,” said Ganaganur. “We also thank the LifeScience Alley, BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, and national centers of bioscience such as the BioLink and Cold Spring Harbor Labs, for all the support and partnerships they have provided in many ways.”

Grant from Great Lakes Will Help Students Stay on Track

Posted on: August 5th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

MCTC campus lifeMinneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) is one of four schools within Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) which have been awarded a total of $988,408 by the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation as part of its flagship College Ready and College Success grants. The funds will be used to improve graduation rates for students who have the most to gain from higher education: those from low income households, students of color and students who are first in their families to attend college.

MCTC will use its $179,962 College Success Grant to launch an “early warning” navigator program to provide early and more individualized intervention for Pell-eligible, first-year students grappling with academic performance or attendance issues. Faculty and staff will work together to assess and address students’ needs in math, English and introductory business classes. The College received $179,962 to launch the program.

“Our state colleges and universities are a place of hope and opportunity for all Minnesotans,” said Steven Rosenstone, MnSCU chancellor. “We share Great Lakes’ commitment to increasing college completion among students facing the greatest challenges. The College Ready and College Success grants will make an enormous difference in our ability to help students succeed.”

“We are called to action by the mounting evidence that too many students enroll in college underprepared academically, and too many leave before earning the degree, diploma, or certificate they set out to earn,” said Richard D. George, president and chief executive officer of Great Lakes. “We fund programs that understand the root cause of what holds students back and take bold steps to overcome these obstacles.”

Through community investments, Great Lakes leads initiatives and funds programs to help students from traditionally underserved backgrounds start and complete a two- or four-year degree or other credential. Since 2006, Great Lakes has committed in excess of $100 million in funding to programs that share these goals. For additional information, visit community.mygreatlakes.org.

MCTC Photography Student and Vietnam Vet Restores War Photos

Posted on: August 4th, 2014 by insidemctc 2 Comments

Unboxed after 40 years, Vietnam images exhibited in Richfield

Published in the Richfield Sun-Current August 1, 2014 by Andrew Wig.

Photo of children by James Thompson

James R. Thompson’s lens often captured images of shy children peeking at him from behind objects, curious, but wary of the outsiders in their midst. At the same time, he also saw, as he put it, “kids pretty much acting like kids.” (Photo courtesy of James. R. Thompson and republished with permission of the author.)

The black-and-white photos from halfway around the world were supposed to be lost to history, stuck in a box who-knows-where.

Shot in 1971, they depicted the Vietnam War, but not the fighting. Instead: civilian faces young and old, jungle-mountain panoramas, soldiers idling or reading letters or posed next to seized weapons.

Returning home from his year in-country, James R. Thompson wasn’t anxious to get the images developed. He was finished with his duties as the official photographer for his battalion in the 101st Airborne Division, and had other priorities.

“When I got home in ‘71 I pretty much just threw all the stuff in a box with the medals and everything else and they just sat there,” said Thompson, a 67-year-old Minneapolis resident.

Four decades since coming home, he had moved four times and thought the pictures had been lost in the shuffle.

“Then one day I was looking for something else and of course, that’s when I found them,” Thompson explained.

The photos’ newest temporary home is Augsburg Park Library in Richfield, where they are exhibited through August.

Having been drafted, Thompson wasn’t itching for a firefight when he arrived in Vietnam in 1970. During his first six months in-country he was assigned to a recon unit, creeping around the jungle, locating the enemy so that larger forces could attack.

He saw little action during that time, since it was monsoon season and the enemy was mostly “hunkered down,” as he describes it. Then came the golden ticket out of the muck.

The official photographer for his battalion had returned home and Thompson, who was an art student back in Minnesota and stayed attached to his camera in Vietnam, seemed a natural successor when he inquired about the opportunity.

“I walked in there, I had a camera hanging on me,” Thompson recalled.

So for the last six months of his service, he was tasked with documenting the battalion’s activities. Chiefly, his colonel wanted photos for his scrapbook, Thompson remembers. Another duty was to photograph soldiers getting pinned with medals.

But Thompson was able to float around as well. He would tag along with medic teams on “goodwill” missions near his base in Phu Bai, in central Vietnam. The medics’ job was to treat ill children and distribute vaccinations.

Along with capturing the everyday life of the soldiers, these were the excursions that formed the hallmark of Thompson’s Vietnam collection.

“I don’t have a lot of blood and guts,” Thompson said.

Instead, he has photos of villagers’ stares and soldiers passing the time during quieter moments. This, Thompson notes, is what makes up most of wartime after all.

“As one guy told me – he said, ‘War is 95 percent boredom and 5 percent terror,’ and that’s what I was trying to show here, is all the things that go on that are not war, that are not conflict,” Thompson said.

Expanding exposure

It was a serendipitous sequence of events that led to the exposure of Thompson’s once-lost work. Around the same time he unboxed the photos he was in the middle of a career change.

Thompson spent 30 years freelancing out of the Twin Cities in the filmmaking business, shooting mostly commercials but also some major motion pictures as a first camera assistant, the person responsible for maintaining the equipment and also focusing the lens during shots.

But that work began to dry up after Sept. 11, 2001, he explains, and by 2008, he was out of the business. He then decided to turn an affliction from the war into an opportunity.

The Veterans Administration granted Thompson disability status due to exposure to “Agent Orange,” a defoliant the U.S. military used to root out the Viet Cong but which has since been found to cause health problems to those exposed.

The “Chapter 31” status Thompson gained from his exposure meant the government would pay for him to return to school. He was eight credits away from a master’s degree in filmmaking from the University of Minnesota but the window to finish that degree had lapsed, so Thompson enrolled in a two-year photography and digital imaging program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, where he learned to restore a collection of forgotten negatives that badly needed some care.

“I think they were pretty banged up,” recalls Jack Mader, who chaired MCTC’s photography department at the time.

Several generations separated Thompson from most of his fellow students, but he found a kinship with Mader, who came from the same era.

“I was always glad to mentor him. I always had a bit of a soft spot for vets, especially Vietnam vets that got drafted,” said Mader, who is now semi-retired.

Working with Thompson, Mader added, “was another way for me to say ‘thank you’ without being overt about it.”

So with the images restored, Thompson displayed the work at his final portfolio show before graduating at MCTC.

Mader appreciates what he called the “day-to-day feel” of the photos.

“You get a chance to look at (the soldiers) as people rather than warriors,” he explained.

The photos work well in exhibition form, too, Mader believes.

“The photos hang so beautifully,” he said.

After Thompson’s studies at MCTC, the work gained exposure at the First Unitarian Society in downtown Minneapolis, where his friend, Herbie Sewell, chairs the church’s arts committee. Sewell and Thompson had gone to filmmaking school together, but had since lost touch. They had recently reconnected at a memorial tribute at the U of M for their professor, Alan Downs, when Sewell, who since studying film has made a career as a painter, saw Thompson’s collection.

“I realized he needed to have his first exhibit as soon as possible,” Sewell said.

As his first true show, Thompson had a six-week run at the First Unitarian Society’s gallery that consisted of his Vietnam work and more recent street-scene photos.

Emboldened, Thompson then brought his work back to the U of M last spring, for a show at the Regis Center for Art’s Quarter Gallery. That’s where the Richfield connection happened.

Richfield resident Phuoc Tran works part-time at Augsburg Park Library and full-time at the U of M’s Wilson Library. Tran, who immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1982, visited the exhibit and was impressed enough to leave an encouraging comment in the visitors’ log.

Thompson sent Tran an email to thank her for the kind words, and in return received an invitation to show his work at Augsburg Park Library.

“For me, it’s important for people to know,” Tran said.

Tran wants people to remember a conflict that she won’t forget. She was in her early 20s and living in Saigon during the city’s fall to the communists in 1975, and recalls the persecution that followed, when two of her brothers, officers for the former government, were imprisoned in a “re-education camp.”

In a country where veterans came home to jeers, Tran is instead thankful.

“They gave us freedom,” she said.

Tran is just the person Thompson was hoping to reach in exposing his work – “somebody from that community who would be interested in exhibiting this type of material,” he said.

There may be more demand for Thompson’s exhibitions with the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon coming in April 2015.

“I talk to a lot of people in my community,” Tran said, “and they want to see him.”

Thompson’s exhibit is on display through August at Augsburg Park Library, 7100 Nicollet Ave., Richfield. Following that, the library will display some of his more recent photos of street scenes.

Read the original story and see photographs from the exhibit here.

 

MCTC Students Receive Culinary Arts Grant

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments
Group photo

The grant winners pose with Sue Zelickson.

Each year, a handful of women from the upper Midwest pursuing Culinary Arts degrees receive the Sue Zelickson Grant from the Women Who Really Cook organization. MCTC students Orian Lavi and Kelli Wirkkula were two of 12 students to receive $500 grants in May 2014.

Lavi is studying abroad from Israel. MCTC’s highly touted culinary programs made her choice of college simple.

“I always wanted to study abroad,” she said. “MCTC was the first school I checked.”

She’s double majoring in Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts and plans on working in a bakery that specializes in breads and pastries.

MCTC President and Student Attend Obama’s Town Hall

Posted on: June 30th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

MCTC President Avelino Mills-Novoa and student Michael ElliottMCTC Interim President-Elect Dr. Avelino Mills-Novoa and MCTC student Michael Elliott attended an invitation-only town hall meeting with President Barack Obama held at Minnehaha Falls today.

“I’m grateful I was given the chance to hear President Obama talk about the economy and middle-class Americans,” said Elliott. “I’ve been middle class my whole life. I was raised by a single mom, so when I see wage inequality, I know that’s directly hurting kids who grew up like me.” Elliott, who was born in California and grew up in North Minneapolis, is pursuing his A.A. in Liberal Arts at MCTC. “I’m interested in Information Technology, because there is still a digital divide in my community,” he said.

Elliott is a non-traditional student in his 40s who returned to college after raising a family. “Life took me away from college in my early 20s,” said Elliott. “I held jobs between now and then, but never a career. Now my son is 22 and finishing college himself, and I decided to go back to school to create professional credibility.”MCTC President Avelino Mills-Novoa and student Michael Elliott

Mills-Novoa and Elliott were among only 300 people to receive an invitation to Obama’s town hall meeting. “I’m here because my story isn’t any different from the students at MCTC,” said Mills-Novoa. “I’m an immigrant and a person of color, and education changed my life.”

Obama’s stop at Minnehaha Falls took place almost exactly 50 years after former President Lyndon B. Johnson visited the Falls on June 27, 1964.

Images: MCTC president-elect Avelino Mills-Novoa and student Michael Elliott. The two snapped a selfie at the event (lower).