Michael Rosenberg is accomplishing a unique feat: He will graduate from two colleges with two degrees in the same year.
Originally from Memphis, Michael lived a lifetime even before deciding to pursue his education: As a child, he heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his last public speech prior to being assassinated. As an adult, Michael spent three years as an Americorps VISTA, worked with AVID students to tutor fourth graders and served in the U.S. military. In 2006, he decided it was time for a change.
Having visited family members in Minnesota, it seemed like a natural place to start the next chapter of his life. “I was so committed to making the move, I didn’t even have a place to live at first. For the first three weeks after I moved to Minnesota, I slept in my car at a rest stop. However, I was determined to make it work.”
When he found housing in downtown Minneapolis, a neighbor suggested MCTC for its convenient location down the block. Michael looked into the Nursing program and decided to take the leap. “I hadn’t been to school in 35 years, and I had no idea if I would be accepted by the younger students on campus,” said Michael.
While completing the requirements he needed to become a certified nursing assistant, he also took care of his general education courses and got involved in student life. He joined Veterans Upward Bound, became the founding president of the MCTC Student Veterans of America club (SVA) and later, while attending the regional SVA conference, was named State Director of SVA. Michael also worked with MCTC faculty to bring renowned Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, founder of the national chapter of Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) to campus, which inspired Michael to work with others to found MCTC’s own SAAB chapter. “When we formed SAAB, there was a critical need to look at the challenges facing African American men and men of color in higher education,” said Michael.
Michael excelled in his classes in addition to remaining thoroughly involved in student clubs and groups, but a period of tragedy set him back: his family experienced four deaths within a short period of time, and Michael temporarily relocated to his home city of Memphis to settle matters. “I needed to be by my family,” said Michael. “We needed to be strong. My family always said if anyone was going to succeed, it would be me.” Michael remained in Memphis for several months, though continued his studies at a local community college.
When he returned to Minneapolis, Michael picked up his studies at Metropolitan State University, aiming for his four-year degree. He completed four semesters with near-perfect grades, landing on the Dean’s List each semester. Graduation was in sight, but one hurdle held him back.
“I had great grades, an internship at Project for Pride in Living doing exactly what I want to do and all I needed was one last math course,” said Michael. “Math is not my strong point.”
He came back to MCTC because the College offers a satisfactory Logic course. “From the very beginning my instructor, Dr. Lisa Bergin, told everyone in the class ‘you can get to this.’ It has been tough. I kept thinking I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t get to it.”
Michael’s Logic instructor worked with him to find his path to success. “It’s been a long haul this semester, but my instructor worked with me the whole way. Now my last final is coming up, and my instructor told me she hopes she gets to meet my family at the graduation ceremony.”
Michael will be attending two graduation ceremonies this year—he will receive his associate of arts (A.A.) degree at MCTC’s graduation ceremony in May 2014, and his bachelor’s degree at the Metro State ceremony in December.
“These two degrees showed me I could do anything,” said Michael. “I found I could communicate with my 18-year old classmates. I learned I can bounce back, because not everything’s going to be hunky-dory. I learned to stay involved. If it wasn’t for being involved in SVA and SAAB, I probably would have fallen off and given up. But instead, I developed a sense of pride.”
“I’m getting two degrees in one year. Who does that? People ask me how I found the time to do everything I did. I made time, and it’s paying off. MCTC makes it easy for you to be a part of their family.”
Michael would like to thank MCTC Logic instructor Dr. Lisa Bergin, Sociology instructor Dr. Catherine Miller, Dean of Arts and Humanities Derrick Lindstrom and Veterans Upward Bound Director Joy Wise. “Without these remarkable instructors and mentors keeping me focused I would be just another statistic.”