The MCTC News Blog

The Empowering Potential of Tutoring: Vince’s Story

Posted on: April 22nd, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Vince Collura, MCTC tutor“I came to Minneapolis on a whim. At that time, I was cynical about the value of school and careers.”

Not every college success story starts out like Vince Collura’s. Then again, not every student has the same educational transition Vince did.

Vince left high school before graduation, hopped a train in Milwaukee and wound up in Minneapolis in 2008. “I wanted to live in community with my friends, to see live music and to be a part of that music community,” said Vince. But life as a musician isn’t an easy—or consistent—one, as he learned. “I was working part-time at jobs I didn’t care about. Paying the bills to fund my bohemian lifestyle became monotonous. I started at MCTC in 2010 with the goal of being a high school English teacher.”

Shortly after coming to MCTC, Vince got involved with the Learning Center, and eventually became a tutor. “When I started, I was skeptical about the institution of education, and pessimistic that careers or school in general could give someone a satisfying life. However, many of my critiques about education and the way I was educated were resolved by working at the Learning Center,” said Vince. “I’ve found the pedagogy of tutoring to be very student-oriented. Trust is important, and seeking tutoring is always voluntary.”

Vince engages students in Socratic dialogue at the Learning Center, and works with them to gauge how they learn. “I work with students who may not speak English as their first language and are working with grammar and idioms, and I also work with math and science wizards who struggle to see the forest through the trees.” Regardless of the struggles a student may be having, the process of learning and collaborating proved to be an enlightening experience for Vince. “I’m driven by the knowledge that critical, creative thinking can be taught, and these are skills that can be learned and transferred.”

What does the future hold for a once-cynical tutor? “My peers at the Learning Center kept iterating that I was going to graduate school,” said Vince. “That was the first time I really considered it. Now I’ve decided I want to teach college.” Vince plans to transfer to the University of Minnesota next year and develop his own course of study that will lead him to his goals. “It’s a little overwhelming to look ahead to a bachelor’s degree and Ph.D while still working on an associate degree, but I’m trying to take it a little at a time.”

Vince is taking a hiatus from his previous life as a musician, but he doesn’t see this shift as an absence in his life. “Right now I’m focusing on putting my creative energy toward knowledge production,” he said. “I’m not writing music so much anymore; I’m writing words instead. When you learn to interrogate your society with the motive of improving it, you inherently create a better world.”

Our Voices: Dominic Hartjes—A Second Career in Half the Time

Posted on: March 14th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Dominic Hartjes, ITEC student.When Dominic quit his first job out of college and moved to Minneapolis with his wife and two-year-old daughter, he knew he’d need some new job skills fast.

“When our household went from a dual income to a single income and simultaneously moved to a city with a higher cost of living, I knew I needed to get in and out of school as quickly as possible,” said Dominic. Having left the world of high school band instruction, his goal was to finish a two-year Information Technology (ITEC) degree in Software Development in just one year and land a job in Minneapolis. So far, so good—with the help of his academic counselor, his MCTC instructors and a scholarship for students pursuing STEM fields, Dominic has custom-designed his path through the ITEC program so he can finish it in half the expected time.

“When I decided to make the switch from being a high school band instructor to working in software development, I looked at my past educational credits and realized I might be able to get my degree in one year,” said Dominic. “In the midst of my career switch and our move to a more expensive area, I couldn’t afford other local schools. MCTC worked for me because of its extremely convenient location, and because of its price tag.”

Dominic took advantage of how close MCTC is to his new home, and found another odd comfort within his degree program. “When I started the ITEC program I was surprised at first. Not only does the program have many students who are switching careers, but several of them are also switching from a music career to a tech career.”

“There’s definitely a connection between music and technology.”

When he first considered making the switch, Dominic took a long, hard look at his career choices.

“In my experience, people who come out of the workforce to make a career switch already have a strong work ethic.” He used the opportunity to evaluate what career would accentuate his personality strengths and better leverage his skills. “I’m opening the door as wide as possible with this new academic track. I’m hoping to work for the fun of it and happen to get paid.”

“By this time next year, I hope to be biking to work in downtown Minneapolis.”

Dominic’s days of teaching aren’t completely over. “Although I’m not teaching high school band anymore, I teach music to kids in Sunday school.”

Jamal Adam, MCTC Counselor, Instructor and Phi Theta Kappa Advisor, Named 2014 Bush Fellow

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

Jamal Adam, MCTC counselor and advisorMinneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) is pleased to announce that Jamal Adam, MCTC counselor, instructor and Phi Theta Kappa faculty advisor, was awarded a 2014 Bush Fellowship by the Bush Foundation. He is one of 24 exceptional leaders from across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and 23 Native nations to be honored.

Adam is pursuing a doctorate in educational administration and policy and educational psychology at the University of Minnesota. He plans to use the fellowship to research ways that colleges and universities can better serve and engage immigrant and refugee students in a way that improves their prospects for academic success.

“By helping me attain my educational goal, the Bush Fellowship will bring me closer to my dream of playing a leadership role in the efforts to ensure all those who call this region home have an opportunity to access and complete higher education that will make them informed participants of the democratic process and vital contributors to the economic well-being of the region,” wrote Adam in his application.

Originally a refugee from Somalia, Adam has lived in Minneapolis for the past 16 years and has been employed at MCTC for the past 12 years. He started his educational career at MCTC, earning an associate degree in Liberal Arts. In addition, he has bachelor’s degree in Social Science and Psychology and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Adam was a 2009 National Endowment for Humanities Fellow in the “American Immigration Revisited” teaching seminar sponsored by the National History Center; a 2011-2012 Humphrey Policy Fellow at Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota; a Phi Theta Kappa Faculty Scholar; a 2012 British American Project Fellow and 2012-2013 University of Minnesota DOVE Fellow. Adam serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations.

Recently, MCTC Political Science instructor Lena Jones was awarded a Bush Fellowship. MCTC takes pride in its extraordinarily talented, experienced and knowledgeable employees.

Global Citizen Calls Minnesota, and MCTC, Her Home

Posted on: January 21st, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Fadumo Abdi, Student Senate president“Minnesota really is my home,” Fadumo assures her friends. The MCTC Psychology major and Student Senate president has such a rich history, she understands why people might ask her.

Fadumo was born in Kenya to parents who fled civil war in Somalia, and her story only begins there. Her family moved to Minnesota, later to the United Arab Emirates and then returned to Kenya for many years. Three years ago, Fadumo returned to Minnesota for college. Along the way she learned English, Arabic, Swahili and Turkish. Despite her varied experiences and multi-lingual abilities, she said, “When I arrived back in Minnesota for college, I had been out of the United States for so long that I had a lot of catching up to do.”

The first thing Fadumo had to catch up on was application deadlines. “I missed the deadline to apply for the University of Minnesota,” she said. “When I talked to my dad, he told me there was a college in downtown Minneapolis he attended when he was young, but he didn’t know if it still existed.” In truth, the college Fadumo’s father attended did not exist anymore. He attended Minneapolis Community College (MCC). In 1996, MCC merged with other institutions and became Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Fadumo isn’t likely to miss another application deadline. Over the past two years at MCTC, she’s held a work study position the College’s Admissions department.

Looking ahead to her future, Fadumo decided she would build her extracurricular repertoire and professional skills. While attending high school in Kenya she had participated in a Model United Nations team; drawing on that experience, she decided to run for a position in the MCTC Student Senate. After a few interim positions, she was elected President in the fall of 2013.

“I didn’t intend to become President,” she said. “I don’t really like being in the spotlight. I just very much enjoy helping people, like I do in the Admissions office.”

Fadumo juggles more than just schoolwork and extracurricular commitments. She lives with her grandmother, who doesn’t speak English, and her mother, who has a chronic illness. “I had to grow up really fast, and when I started at MCTC I missed some school to be with my family,” she said. “Thankfully, I had some very understanding teachers, and I made it through that time.”

“Honestly, thanks to the Student Senate, I’ve learned how to be more patient. Part of being a leader is being fair, and I’ve learned how to better handle stressful situations.”

Fadumo was impressed with what MCTC had to offer when she arrived at the College. “There is an incredible diversity of experiences at this college,” she said. “At MCTC, even within my communitythe Somali communitypeople have very different experiences. Even then, MCTC has a tight-knit, family feel. The longer I stay here, the longer I want to stay here.”

“Minnesota really is my home.”

Learn more about the history of MCTCfrom its origins as Girls Vocational School to the modern campus nestled between Loring Park and Downtown Minneapolisas we celebrate our Centennial year!

Learning Locally, Lucie Builds Her Skills and Her Community

Posted on: January 7th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Lucie, MCTC studentThe MCTC campus was quiet during finals week before the fall semester ended. Most students had finished their exams and left campus, but Lucie Skjefte was studying late into finals week. “I have my last final on Friday, and then I’m going to take my son to see Santa,” said Lucie.

Lucie felt drawn to MCTC from a young age. “My sister attended college here before I started. Going to MCTC always seemed like the natural thing to do,” she said. One of the biggest draws to the College was United Nations of Indian Tribes for Education (UNITE), MCTC’s Native American student group, and the American Indian Success Program. “When I first started, seeing the success of UNITE students pushed me to work hard and be successful too,” said Lucie. “UNITE is there to inspire and encourage one another. It’s there for people to reach out to when they need it.” Lucie is now the president of UNITE.

Before returning to school, Lucie learned she was expecting a baby in 2009. “I knew if I was going to have a child, I’d need to make some changes.” Lucie was a single mother of a newborn, but after being offered housing by a family member, she was able to return to school at MCTC. “Having stable housing meant the world to me. It meant I could finally go back to and focus on school,” said Lucie.

“My son changed everything for me. He inspires me, and he grounds me. I always knew he’d be my rock.”

As soon as Lucie returned to school, she excelled academically. “I’ve always been one to build a foundation,” she said. “I took some great fundamental classes, and eventually determined my passion and skills intersected at Graphic Design. That’s where I excelled.” In 2011 Lucie joined the Phi Theta Kappa honors society, and this spring, she will graduate from MCTC with A.A.S degrees and certificates in both Graphic Design: Print Media and Graphic Design: Web and Interactive Media.

Lucie decided to finish her studies at MCTC and transfer. “My instructors and my advisor encouraged me to reach beyond my comfort level, and that encouragement was all I needed,” said Lucie. “I considered several out-of-state Ivy League schools, but Minneapolis has a great art community. I decided I really wanted to stay local.”

Shortly before the new year, Lucie received her acceptance letter to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), and a pleasant surprise. “Along with my acceptance letter I learned I’d be getting a $15,000 Presidential Merit Scholarship to MCAD.” Lucie’s ultimate goal is to teach the topics she loves and excels at. “I want to be able to give back everything I’ve learned about art and design, and to inspire my community.”