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Ah-Nung: Putting the “Community” in Community College

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

Ah-NungMatrious

Ah-Nung Matrious was looking for a fresh start when she came to MCTC last fall after a less-than-stellar experience at a previous college. In her short time at the College, she’s already made an impact in the student community by means of collaboration and conversation.

When she started at the College, Ah-Nung was encouraged to join the United Nations of Indian Tribes Education (UNITE) student club.

“They were beat when I joined,” she said. “We all took on responsibilities to make improvements happen.”

Ah-Nung and the other members worked together to turn the club around. They mended broken ties with other student groups and increased accountability.

“We all revamped UNITE’s outlook as a student organization,” she said. “There may have been some struggles, but we overcame them and now we are stronger and more involved than ever.”

A key component to the club’s turnaround included collaboration. Ah-Nung and UNITE began working together to host events with another MCTC student club, Xicanos Latinos Unidos (XLU). The collaboration started with a potluck that brought members of the two clubs together to share their cultural foods and get to know each other. Members of the clubs also played a Jeopardy-style game and answered questions about Native American and Latino culture. Both clubs learned about each other’s cultures in ways they never thought they would.

“We went out of our way to forget about cliques and interact with each other,” Ah-Nung said.

The collaboration spanned other student groups as well. UNITE, in collaboration with the Student Veteran Association (SVA), reached out to other clubs to collect funds for an all-College barbeque. Ah-Nung saw it as an opportunity to create the atmosphere that she felt at the potluck, except on a larger scale. Hundreds turned out for the barbeque and she has even bigger plans for the next one.

“I think our collaboration started a trend,” Ah-Nung said. “It created a bigger sense of community.”

Ah-Nung’s Native American values are tied into her aspirations for the campus. Included in those values are community, unity and contribution. She knows that she won’t accomplish her goals alone, but will be successful with the help of her peers.

“We are always working together to look out for the future of our loved ones,” she said. “If those other student organizations and individual students didn’t help me or contribute, nothing great would have been accomplished.”

Before she came to MCTC, Ah-Nung was living on a secluded reservation in Hinckley, Minn. Coming to the Twin Cities was a shock for her.

“People who live in the boondocks often don’t have much, if any, experience interacting with people of other cultures,” she said.

Ah-Nung, currently the president of the MCTC Student Senate, is hopeful by the time she’s graduated next spring that she’s created a better sense of campus community for current and future students.

“One of the best things I like about MCTC is regardless of race or background, I have a lot of support,” she said. “I’m very thankful that they have given me the opportunities to let me do what I’ve done.”

Estefanía: A Confident Leader

Posted on: August 26th, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

Estefania HeadshotEstefanía Navarro was hit by culture shock when she came to the U.S. in 2005 and realized Americans didn’t like the Disney Channel show Lizzie McGuire as much as she thought they did. Born in Morelos, Mexico, the MCTC student had learned all she knew about the U.S. from television and movies.

Estefanía came to the U.S. with her single mother and younger brother. Her mother, who had lived and worked in the country previously, left Mexico for better job opportunities. Despite having taken English classes at a private school in Morelos and attending a mostly Latino middle school in South Minneapolis, the transition was still difficult. 

“I was lucky to have gone to a private school in Mexico,” she said. “I had very strict teachers who shaped me into who I am today.”

In 2007, Estefanía began attending Camp Sunrise, a free YouthCARE program that hosts urban youth at a camp in Rush City, Minn. every summer and teaches them the importance of the environment and working together. At the camp she learned the importance of working with others efficiently and how to be a proper leader. She was also struck by the diversity of her fellow campers.

“Seeing all these people with different backgrounds in the same place was amazing,” she said. 

Estefanía continued attending the camp through middle and high school, eventually becoming a junior counselor and then a full-fledged counselor. She enjoys establishing connections and getting to know the campers she oversees. She remembers herself as a shy and quiet teenager who lacked confidence when she first attended the camp. Over the years, her confidence has grown and she is now helping others who were like her.

Estefanía first walked the skyways of MCTC as a middle school student when the College was hosting a Latino-related conference and, later as a Jump Startstudent. The diversity of the campus community stood out and reminded her of Camp Sunrise. 

Estefanía was one of three Latino students to graduate with honors at her high school. Proud as she was, she felt like she had lost some of her culture since arriving in the U.S.

“I felt like I was losing a part of myself,” she said.

When she started attending MCTC, she heard about culture-related student clubs through Student Life. A representative from the Xicanos Latinos United (XLU) club encouraged her to attend one of their meetings. She felt like the club might help her regain some of her culture. After one meeting, she was sold.

“XLU is the family I didn’t have growing up,” she said.

Estefanía not only made friends in the club, but she’s also learned more about Mexican culture.

She experienced one of her proudest moments with the club when she organized a culture fashion show. She worked with more than 10 students from XLU and other Student Life culture-related clubs to model native clothing for their peers. The diversity and community she saw in the fashion show reminded her of why she came to MCTC. 

“We made friends with other students that we normally wouldn’t talk to,” she said.

In addition to her club involvement, Estefanía attended Student Senate meetings during her first year at MCTC. The more meetings she attended, the more intrigued she became by the passion she saw in the students participating. She wanted to be a part of that so she became a senator. As a senator, she wanted to make a change but she needed “a little more push.” In order to do that, she ran and became the director of diversity on the Student Senate’s Board of Directors.

“I really appreciate MCTC’s diversity, and I wanted to do something to help out and represent the minority community,” she said.

When a new election period came along, Estefanía had the option of running for director of diversity again or running for another position. She remembered her lessons from Camp Sunrise, and decided to take on more of a leadership position. 

“I knew the next president would need a strong vice president and I felt like I was the right person for it,” she said. “It felt like the natural thing to do.”

Student Senate inspired Estefanía to get involved with politics outside of MCTC. She stays up to date on political news and watches political documentaries. Her involvement with Camp Sunrise and Student Senate has also sparked a career interest in either education or politics.

“Closing in on the achievement gap is a passion of mine,” she said. “We need to keep students engaged and education is key for a brighter future no matter what your ethnicity or nationality.”

Race to Save the Planet—An MCTC Learning Community

Posted on: July 17th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

MCTC learning communityCollaboration is key to solving some of the world’s most challenging issues. Race to Save the Planet is a unique learning option offered by MCTC that gives students an opportunity to collaborate and deeply engage with their instructors—and each other—while learning about issues involving our environment and planet.

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This interdisciplinary block of coursesoffered this Fall is set up as an intentional learning community in which students meet three days a week for a block of time each day and earn eight credits across two disciplines: Biology and Political Science.

The lectures, assignments and activities are integrated by the instructors to give students a holistic look at the environment from a broad range of perspectives. The coursework includes public work projects where students apply what they learn in class to actions in their own community.

“I’ve never had a class where people were so willing to open up to each other,” said Kristin Lessard, a former student who took the classes. “Before enrolling in the course, I never had any serious environmental focus, but now I’m going to major in environmental science. It’s the best class I’ve ever had!”

Students will earn credits in Race to Save the Planet that satisfy four Goal Areas of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (Goal Areas 3,5,9,10), providing a pathway to graduation/transfer.

Two MCTC Machine Tool Technology Students Receive $3,000 Scholarships

Posted on: June 11th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Graco scholarship winnersMinnesota-based Graco, a leading provider of premium pumps and spray equipment for fluid handling in the construction, manufacturing, processing and maintenance industries, provided scholarships to two Power of YOU students in Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s (MCTC) Machine Tool Technology program. The goal of the scholarships is to set students on the path to productive careers in metal manufacturing and processing industries. Micheal Esposito and Sophia Kuusisto were chosen to receive grants in the amount of $3,000 each.

“Together, Graco and MCTC recognize manufacturing is critical to the U.S. economy, and people are needed at every level of an organization from running state-of-the-art machines to leading teams both locally and globally,” said Kim Munson, MCTC Machine Tool Technology faculty. “Entry-level machining positions can pay from $20–$25 per hour, with opportunities to exceed $30 per hour as an individual rises to the top of the pay scale over the course of six to seven years. This scholarship allows Micheal and Sophia to study for a career that has tremendous opportunity for growth.”

Micheal, Graco scholarship recipientMicheal Esposito – Following a Family Tradition

Micheal Esposito follows a long line of family members who worked with their hands. His great grandfather was a machinest and his grandfather a carpenter. When Micheal’s older brother started spending time in the machine shop at South High School, Micheal followed suit. Ultimately, Micheal spent three years working in the school’s shop as a student, classroom aid and mentor.

During his time at South, Micheal found another mentor, former MCTC Postsecondary Education Options student Philip Mestenhauser, who studied Machine Tool Technology at MCTC and now works on the West Coast in the industry. Philip encouraged Micheal’s interest in machine tool and introduced him to Kim Munson. Micheal’s educational career at MCTC took off from there and this fall he’ll begin his second year in the program, working toward his AAS degree.

“I’m committed to the industry and have found I’m gaining solid experience at MCTC for high-demand careers,” said Micheal who aspires to move out west by the fall of 2018 and work as a prototyper. “Prototyping fuels my interest in working on a diversity of projects, I’m thankful for the scholarship which helps make it all possible.”

Sophia, Graco scholarship recipientSophia Kuusisto – Forging a New Path

Sophia Kuusisto’s interest in Machine Tool Technology was sparked in a South High School shop class that promoted the benefits of entering the fields of metals manufacturing and processing. “I always knew the importance of earning a technical degree,” said Sophia who recalls family friends from Germany who shared that everyone in the country was encouraged to have a technical degree before pursuing other interests. “A degree in Machine Tool Technology gives me a solid foundation to pursue many careers including one of my areas of interest: engineering.”

“When I started in the Machine Tool Technology Program, I couldn’t name the average tools you’d find in a toolbox,” said Sophia who now has her own toolbox, courtesy of the Graco scholarship. “I now know the tools of the trade and I’m operating every machine in the shop. Long-term, I have an interest in working as a CNC programmer.”

Sophia strongly encourages women to pursue a degree in the field. “It can be challenging being one of the only women in the shop. However, I’ve had an extremely positive experience in the program,” said Sophia. “MCTC is a great place to study and the education is extremely affordable.”

Read this story and more in the spring 2014 edition of The Groove magazine!

MCTC Health and Wellness Opportunities Grow

Posted on: June 10th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Focus on fitness at MCTC.Students at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) have seen an overall increase in health and wellness in the last few years.

Last year nearly 5,000 students at four two-year colleges completed a college student health survey, identifying trends when compared to data from previous health surveys in 2011 and 2009. The 2013 survey results indicated the number of uninsured students at MCTC has dropped from 28.3 percent in 2011 to 24 percent in 2013. This is likely due in part to outreach efforts by the state-funded insurance initiative MNsure combined with recent health and wellness opportunities for MCTC students.

In 2012, MCTC opened its student-centered health clinic on campus. Boynton Health Service provides quality healthcare services—including treatment for illnesses and injuries, lab and x-ray testing, routine medical exams and mental health services—by medical professionals on campus to all enrolled MCTC students. “I often hear patients say it is so convenient to get their care right here on campus, between their classes,” said Jenny Swanson, Boynton Health Service clinic manager. “Our primary care providers also host monthly health talks in the common spaces on campus in order to reach out to the greater MCTC population on a variety of health topics.” Insurance is not required by students who use Boynton, and students without insurance are not turned away.
The College has also invested in fitness programs, intramural activities, a fitness center and motivational exercise programs for students. More than 800 students utilized the MCTC weight room and gym facilities during the 2013–2014 academic year. “Our numbers have increased every semester since we started,” said Drew Rongere, campus recreation and wellness coordinator. “Even during finals week we had people in the weight room and the gym. Some students love working out now that they see what they can do.” In the 2013 college student health survey, more than half (54.7 percent) of MCTC students report engaging in moderate to high physical activity levels.

“What’s even better than the physical accomplishments is the connections and friendships students make,” said Drew. “It’s good for their mental health as well as their physical health.” Drew is working with MCTC’s diversity director Dr. Whitney Harris to address mental and physical health disparities among students.

The 2013 health survey also revealed telling data about the physical, mental and sexual health of the MCTC student body. The survey showed 22.7 percent of students reported the death of someone close to them as being a major mental health stress, up from 20.3 percent in 2011. The survey also showed that students are using the new Boynton facilities to seek testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections as well as for routine physical checkups, immunizations and treatment of minor injuries.

Both Boynton and the campus fitness center will be open during the 2014 summer session.