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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.”

March Phonphiboun, World Citizen Award Winner

Posted on: December 5th, 2013 by insidemctc No Comments

Photo: March PhonphibounAn associate’s degree was only the beginning for March Phonphiboun.

The Mathematics and TRIO work study student began his studies at MCTC in 2010. “In high school, I wasn’t in an academic state of mind,” said March. “I barely graduated, and when I got to MCTC, my performance kept getting worse.” After seeing his first semester grades, he began asking himself some hard questions. “I had had enough. It was then my journey with self-discovery and improvement began.”

March worked hard—both in his studies and in tandem with his studies. “I had to pick up part-time jobs during college to help pay bills,” March said. “On top of studying, dealing with personal issues and working to improve myself, it was a difficult time for me.” During his time at MCTC, March fed his interests in leadership and interpersonal communications. “There are so many things you can do when you develop leadership skills. You begin to notice life working for you.” In December of 2012 March graduated with honors, receiving his associate’s degree in Liberal Arts. However, he wasn’t done learning.

March’s ideas, experiences and personal growth had given him energy and a new direction to pursue. In January 2013, March began a new course of study at MCTC: mathematics. This time, he was empowered to use his new skills and confidence to apply for a scholarship to help pay the way.

“An adviser in the TRIO Starting Point program suggested I apply for the Mark M. Welter World Citizen Award,” said March. The application called for an essay addressing how people of the world are connected to one another. “In my essay, I wrote about how world citizens aren’t so different from one another. As a team, world citizens can expand the existing pool of knowledge.” March also described his concept of a program aimed at making STEM fields approachable to non-STEM majors.

Last fall, March joined the North Star STEM Alliance and had the opportunity to attend the national conference for the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers in Philadelphia. “Among countless things, the conference taught me the importance of networking. Communication skills can be one of the biggest assets you can have, especially when moving laterally within a company or organization.”

This will be March’s final semester here at MCTC. He will transfer to the University of Minnesota in the spring of 2014 to pursue a master’s degree in computer science. “Every day is an opportunity to learn and improve,” said March. “I like to believe that once you stop learning, you stop living. I’m getting ready for the future.”