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Denisse Linares: On a Path to Success

Posted on: August 14th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Denisse, MCTC gradWhen Denisse Linares visited MCTC this summer to interview Interim President Avelino Mills-Novoa, Deputy Education Officer for Minneapolis Public Schools Elia Bruggeman and several high school students for a story on Univision, she walked around like she knew the place. Because she did know the place—quite well.

Denisse began attending MCTC in 2006, when she dove into English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. After several semesters, she transitioned to the Human Services program, and in the meantime served as activities coordinator for the Xicanos Latinos Unidos student club. “I was in school for a long time—first part time, then full time.”

Going to college in Minneapolis wasn’t at the top of her to-do list when Denisse was graduating high school. “My plan was to go back to Mexico,” she shared. Having moved to Minnesota when she was 12 years old, Denisse had strong ties to her family members who stayed behind, and thought for some time she could begin her adult life in the country where her parents started theirs.

But encouraged by a high school counselor, she stopped by an open house at MCTC. Liking what she saw, Denisse submitted an application. And then took the Accuplacer. And finally decided to take a leap—and stay on her path in Minnesota.

“It was a tough decision. At 18 years old, it was a very scary decision,” she said. “MCTC was so helpful when I didn’t know what to do next.”

After committing to staying in the Twin Cities, Denisse flourished. With a strong start in ESOL classes, campus involvement, a major that inspired her and compassionate instructors, she received her Associate in Arts degree in Human Services in 2011. Denisse went on and transferred to Augsburg College where she studied business management, and landed a job as an account executive with Univision.

“Deep inside I think I knew I needed to stay here, even though going back to Mexico would have been easier,” she said. “I would tell someone in my position to continue their education, and to find resources to help them. There are so many more resources now than when I was making my decision: there are scholarships, paid internships and the opportunity to go to school part-time and work in their field.”

After her interviews, Denisse had to leave in a hurry. “The Gold Cup is going on right now,” she explained. “Everyone wants to run advertisements with Univision. It’s a busy time of the year.”

Summer Classes Assist ELL Students in MPS

Posted on: June 25th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Elia Bruggeman and Avelino Mills-NovoaA partnership between Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) and Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) is giving 115 high school students a leg up on their academic careers.

The new college summer academy, funded by MPS, offers three levels of reading and writing classes on the MCTC campus to students from MPS high schools who speak English as a second or other language. “This academy accelerates the graduation rates for ELL students,” said Elia Bruggeman, deputy education officer for MPS. “They’re incredibly intelligent students who are simply behind in classes because they’re in need of access to English education.”

Taught by MCTC instructors, the courses offer current and recently graduated high school students structure and curriculum over the summer months to ensure they begin the subsequent academic year with extra English instruction.

“The program accelerates not only high school students, but students going into college as well,” said Kristy Snyder, MCTC dean of Academic Foundations. “After the program, students arrive ready to access college English classes. It’s transforming how we think of ELL instruction.”

Washburn High School student Nathaly Carchi stepped out of her class with MCTC ESOL Instructor Jeff Hoover to speak to Univision about her experience in the program. “I have one year left of high school,” she said. “This summer I’m going to school and interning with Mortenson Construction through the STEP-UP program.”
“College isn’t just for students who start out at a higher level; it really is for everyone,” said Snyder. “With programs like these students visualize themselves at college. It helps them launch their future.”

Photo: MPS Deputy Education Officer Elia Bruggeman and MCTC Interim President Avelino Mills-Novoa speak about the summer academy with Univision.

International Student Leaves Career of 15 Years to Continue Her Education

Posted on: May 29th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Shirleng, international studentWhen Shirleng Tan finished high school, college was not an option for her.

“My family’s financial situation wouldn’t allow me to go to school, so I went to work,” she said. And work she did. Shirleng spent 10 years at the same firm in Malaysia—a Japanese firm—and later took a job with a Swedish company.

“I learned that English is an international language,” said Shirleng, who explained she may use three languages in the same sentence when having a conversation in Malaysia. “English is a career path. I quit my job and came to the U.S. for this reason. Many people questioned my decision, but English is important, and the educational system in the U.S. is very good. If I ever go back to Malaysia, I’ll have an advantage over other candidates.”

When Shirleng arrived in Minnesota on a hot July day in 2012, her sister—a resident of Minneapolis—picked her up at the airport and drove her around the city’s lakes to keep the jet lag at bay. “When I first told my sister I wanted to go to school, she immediately suggested MCTC,” said Shirleng. “She took the time to bring me to MCTC for a visit, and the first person I met was one of the advisors. He helped me fill out my application.”

At MCTC, Shirleng took advantage of student resources in order to get the most out of her education. “Part of why I stayed at my first job for 10 years was because I was afraid of the interview process.” She sought out the MCTC Career Services office, and later competed against other students for a Career Ready Scholarship. “It was a great experience,” said Shirleng. “Career Services really helps students understand what they need to do in order to be part of the workforce of the future. After the scholarship competition ended, I had the courage to apply for work-study positions.” Shirleng’s hard work paid off: She received two calls about work-study positions within 10 minutes. “I took a position in the Business Services office because they were the first to call me back. I was so happy. I hadn’t been without a job since high school.”

Shirleng works diligently at her studies—especially English. “In order to receive my visa to come to Minnesota, I had to take an English proficiency exam,” she said. “I studied for a long time, traveling an hour after a full day at work in order to study with a tutor for four hours. I would get home at midnight, and then do it again the next day.” Since coming to MCTC, Shirleng has taken advantage of opportunities at the College: English as a Second or Other Language classes and tutors in the Learning Center offer assistance to international students. “My English still not perfect, but I’ve improved a lot—especially in my writing,” she said. “At the start, I went to the Learning Center every day. Now I’m only there two or three days a week.”

“Education is important in all industries. Even with my 15 years’ experience, I don’t have a degree, so my options are limited.” It took courage for Shirleng to leave her career and move to another country for schooling. “I went from financial freedom to the financial life of a student,” she said. “People in my culture think I’m too old to go to school, and many of my family and friends objected to my decision. When I look back now, I know I made the right decision.” Shirleng plans to finish her associate degree and transfer to the University of Minnesota or Metropolitan State University.

“MCTC is very good to international students. I pay the same tuition as Minnesota residents, and if my grades are good enough, I have access to scholarships. It’s just one more opportunity for me.”