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MCTC Political Science Instructor Brings Awareness and Support to Twin Cities Veterans

Posted on: November 23rd, 2015 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

MCTC Political Science Instructor Miki Huntington was recently featured in an article in the Lake Minnetonka Magazine. In addition to teaching Political Science, Miki is an Army veteran and former member of the Bush administration. She also advises MCTC’s Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter and is co-chair of MCTC’s branch of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon (BTYR). MCTC is fortunate to have Miki actively contributing to the betterment of our community. The original story is available at this link, and posted in its entirety below.

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PHOTO BY: EMILY J. DAVIS

Excelsior Resident Miki Huntington Brings Awareness and Support to Twin Cities Veterans

BY MONIQUE KLEINHUIZEN

Miki Huntington has worked in the White House. She’s flown Black Hawk helicopters. She has lived overseas. She spent 25 years in the U.S. Army. She served as a member of President George W. Bush’s administration. And though she’s already achieved that prestigious list of accomplishments, Huntington is now living in Excelsior, tackling another item on her bucket list: teaching.

Huntington was born in Japan, where her father, retired by that time, had been stationed with the Navy. Her family lived in Japan until Huntington was 10. It was overseas that she developed a deep appreciation for her country, and she eventually joined the Reserves and then ROTC to help pay for an education degree.

As she listed her preferred areas of military service, aviation came to mind. “Someone told me not to put it down,” says Huntington. “ ‘You’ll never get it,’ they told me… but sometimes a challenge is a really great motivator!” That spirit of confidence and resilience is one that’s served Huntington well through 25 years in the Army, including 10 as a pilot in Huey and Black Hawk helicopters.

Along the way, she earned a master’s degree in Asian studies, lived in South Korea and Japan, and became foreign area officer for Asia and the Middle East. When Huntington was asked to apply for a position at the White House, she and her husband knew they couldn’t pass up the opportunity. So she spent 2007 through 2009 in Vice President Dick Cheney’s National Security Affairs Office.

In 2011, she retired from her final military position as the chief of U.S.-Japan government relations, and she and her husband, an Excelsior native she met in South Korea, decided to move back to the lake area. She began pursuing her life-long dream of teaching, and she brought her extensive military and travel background into the classroom as a political science professor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). She also advises MCTC’s Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter and is co-chair of MCTC’s branch of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon (BTYR). It’s an initiative that connects veterans with support, training and resources; Huntington and her team plan events and coordinate resources designed to raise awareness of and build support for veterans and their families.

Annette Kuyper is director of military outreach for the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs, and she’s worked closely with Huntington to develop MCTC’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program.

“Veterans need to feel like they can come back and contribute in their civilian communities,” says Kuyper. “We’re educating our networks on the resources that are available, making more people aware of resources in case transitional issues surface.” Though raising awareness in a community is important, “it takes people like Miki to lead organizations and synchronize support,” says Kuyper.

Huntington worked with Kuyper to secure MCTC’s certification as a recognized Yellow Ribbon Company, which included making an organization-wide commitment to supporting veterans and military-connected families and community members. In January, MCTC became one of 47 Yellow Ribbon organizations in Minnesota.

Kuyper notes that a recent Readiness & Resilience in National Guard Soldiers (RINGS) study found that combat service members are amazingly resilient. “Key factors that help in that resiliency are that they came back to communities and workplaces and educational institutions that show acceptance and visible support for veterans,” says Kuyper.

Tara Martinez, director of student life and co-chair of the Yellow Ribbon Committee at MCTC, notes that being a veteran is different from other identities.

“It’s not an identity that’s often obvious … veterans might not easily connect with each other,” says Martinez. The Yellow Ribbon Committee developed a Hall of Veterans designed to commemorate service members in the current MCTC community. In this way, students and staff could begin to recognize and support MCTC veterans and active service members.

“As someone who hasn’t served in the military, I needed to partner with someone who had. Miki is poised, polished and professional, but also so fun and down-to-earth,” says Martinez. She notes that MCTC has a student population with an average age of 28, so there’s a higher-than-average percentage of veterans and non-traditional students. Huntington offers her military background every day in the classroom, but also knows first-hand that just as college experiences are diverse, a military background isn’t the same for everyone.

“I wasn’t a combat veteran. For some of us, going to work in the military is just like going to a regular job. Yes, there are serious needs we need to address [for combat veterans], but that wasn’t the experience for all of us,” says Huntington. More importantly, she says, communities need to recognize the wide variety of reactions and needs of our veterans, and to offer support and understanding.

One aim of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is simply to be more inclusive and appreciative of veterans in our communities. Huntington says that the Yellow Ribbon initiative at MCTC has encouraged her because “it’s taken the conversation beyond ‘Thank you for your service.’ Not to discount the intent behind that comment, but it’s just the start of the conversation.”

Though it’s taken her a few extra years to land her original dream job in the classroom, Huntington says that working with students isn’t all that different from her time in the military. Says Huntington, “Service in a uniform, or service in the classroom… I’m grateful to do what I do.”

 
(Photos courtesy of Miki Huntington)

Taking Flight

Far left: Miki Huntington in a UH-1 “Huey” Iroquois helicopter at K-16 Seoul Airbase. Top center: Huntington’s husband David, left, and Vice President Dick Cheney, right, pin on Huntington’s new rank of Lieutenant Colonel during her promotion ceremony in 2008. Bottom center: David and Miki Huntington with President George W. Bush in the Oval Office in 2009.

Yellow Ribbon

Miki Huntington works with Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s student veterans’ groups and helped secure the college’s certification as a Yellow Ribbon Company.

Decorated
Learn about some of the awards on Miki Huntington’s uniform.

Senior Aviator Badge (silver wings) Awarded for attaining an aeronautical rating of Senior Army aviator; recipients have at least 1,000 hours and 84 months of Department of Defense (DOD) aviator flight time, which must include flight time as a pilot in command. Huntington piloted UH-1 “Huey” Iroquois and UH-60 “Black Hawk” helicopters.

Defense Superior Service Medal Awarded to members of the Armed Forces who rendered superior meritorious service in a position of significant responsibility. Huntington received the award upon completion of her White House assignment.

Legion of Merit Awarded to any member of the Armed Forces who has distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. Huntington received the award upon her retirement following 25 years of service in the Army.

Meritorious Service Medal (one bronze oak leaf cluster) Awarded to any member of the Armed Forces who has distinguished himself or herself by outstanding meritorious achievement or service. The oak leaf cluster is issued to denote the award of second and succeeding decorations.

Army Commendation Medal (three oak leaf clusters) Awarded to any member who distinguishes himself or herself by heroism, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service.

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Army Achievement Medal (two oak leaf clusters) Awarded to any member who distinguishes himself or herself by meritorious service or achievement of a lesser degree than required for award of the Army Commendation Medal.

National Defense Service Medal (one bronze star) Awarded for honorable active service for any period between 2 August 1990 and 30 November 1995 (Persian Gulf) and 11 September 2001 to a date to be determined (Global War on Terrorism). The bronze service star is worn to denote participation in a named campaign to denote an additional award. Huntington notes that she did not deploy overseas to Iraq or Afghanistan, so this medal simply reflects her service during the specific time period.

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Awarded to members of the Armed Forces who have participated in or served in support of a Global War on Terrorism operations outside of the designated area of eligibility on or after September 11, 2001 to a future date to be determined.

Army Service Ribbon Awarded to members of the U.S. Army for successful completion of initial entry (“basic”) training.

Army Overseas Service Ribbon Awarded to members of the U.S. Army for successful completion of overseas tours.

Reserve Components Overseas Service Ribbon
Awarded to members of the Reserve Components of the Army for successful completion of annual training or Active Duty Training for a period of not less than 10 consecutive duty days on foreign soil.

Air Assault Badge (silver badge) Eligibility criteria consists of satisfactory completion of an air assault training course.

Michael Rosenberg Gets Involved, Receives Two Degrees

Posted on: May 13th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Michael Rosenberg, graduating MCTC studentCreative, Committed, Confident—Michael Inspires and Succeeds

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.”

Equipped for success through Veterans Upward Bound

Posted on: August 8th, 2012 by insidemctc No Comments

Tyler La Roue

The tragic events that marked Sept. 11, 2001, ignited a passion in Tyler La Roue to protect and defend the freedoms of the United States of America. Out of that passion came eight years of dedicated service in the Air Force, including six years in the inactive reserves and two years in active duty. After his service, he turned his attention toward his future. As he now pursues a college degree, he counts it a privilege to allow his country to support his education in part through the Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC).

Discovering tools to succeed

Being outside of an educational environment for many years, La Roue knew academic success would require him to adjust to the college culture. His uncle Charles, also a veteran, told him about the Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) program at MCTC—a program from which he had benefited a generation prior. It was through VUB that La Roue found the support he needed to succeed in his educational goals.

VUB is a full-service, federally funded TRiO program designed to prepare veterans for college by offering free college prep courses in writing, reading, math, science, computer literacy, Spanish and study skills.

Through the program, La Roue had the opportunity to enhance his skills in a variety of academic areas that prepared him for success in liberal arts at MCTC. “Sharpening my skills helped me know when I started taking classes at the College, I would be able to ace them,” La Roue said.

Thriving through connections

La Roue discovered more than academic support through VUB. He found a place where he could connect and be understood—a place that served as an extension of the companionship he had encountered in the Armed Forces.

“My favorite part of the VUB experience is the camaraderie between veterans,” said La Roue. “It is the same kind of brotherhood/sisterhood we found as active duty service men and women. I also experienced great comradeship between the veterans and our fearless VUB leaders.”

In addition to providing academic guidance, VUB program leaders dedicate their time and energy to providing veterans with career, personal and financial aid counseling.

“VUB has a wonderful staff who give their all to make sure student veterans become successful in all aspects of college life—and life in general,” La Roue said. “The program leaders have a wealth of knowledge pertaining to life, veterans, colleges and the G.I. Bill. This type of information isn’t always readily available at many colleges.”

Looking ahead

After finishing his studies at MCTC, La Roue plans on transferring to the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in business management. He will be one of the first in his family to complete a college education.

“The greatest thing I will take away from this program and carry into my future is simple,” La Roue said. “When the terrorists knocked down the twin towers, my country allowed me to serve and contribute to the betterment of this nation. When I finished my service and decided to go back to college, I allowed my country to support my education. They have given me more than I could have asked, and VUB is part of that.”