The MCTC News Blog

In the News: Central Corridor Anchor Partnerships Gain National Attention

Posted on: September 28th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Members of the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership (CCAP) met at the White House Summit on Apprenticeships recently to discuss a resolution passed this May to support a pilot initiative to integrate education and career planning for two-year degree nurses. “This is fantastic news for the students we serve who are pursuing health care careers,” noted MCTC Interim President Avelino Mills-Novoa in this article from the Central Corridors Anchor Partnership. “It is gratifying to see a White House Summit bringing attention and traction to an apprenticeship model that is very relevant to our students.”

The original story is posted below.

Nursing Apprenticeship Concept Gains National Attention

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A White House Summit on Apprenticeships last week shone a spotlight on an apprenticeship model to promote greater access to healthcare careers.  Laura Beeth, Fairview’s System Director of Talent Acquisition and chair of CCAP’s workforce development work group was one of 100 leaders at the national summit, and she spoke to the gathering immediately after Vice President Joseph Biden.  U.S. Senator Al Franken was a keynote speaker at the event, along with Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

Beeth learned in Washington that Fairview will receive a $750,000 grant to support 150 nurses and other healthcare workers advance on career ladders through a Department of Labor apprenticeships grant.  A key focus for the project is supporting two year degree nurses to obtain four year degrees and better wages, which the Partnership believes is a critical element to its goal of hiring more Central Corridor residents.  The funding for Fairview is part of a $5 million federal grant to the Minnesota Department of Economic and Employee Development (DEED) and the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) to expand registered apprenticeships in high-growth jobs, including health care.

“It is great news to receive such strong support from the White House Summit,” reflected Beeth. “Now I hope that this grant can inspire additional funding to adapt and expand this model and serve a larger number of Central Corridor residents seeking health care careers.”

CCAP Support for Apprenticeships Model

The Central Corridor Anchor Partnership adopted a resolution on May 12 this year to support a pilot initiative to integrate education and career planning for two year degree nurses to work for several years in long term care, while they complete a BSN degree and receive training and support for ultimate employment opportunities in acute care.  The Partnership has recognized that there are strong national, state, local and organizational pressures to have at least eighty percent (80%) or more of hospital nursing jobs filled with four year BSN nurses by the year 2020.  While significant progress is being made to promote more diversity in four year BSN programs, two year degree nursing graduates have traditionally been a more ethnically and culturally diverse population than the four year degree graduates, and thus are important to the CCAP’s workforce goal and objectives.  Sixty-five percent (65%) of St. Paul College’s nursing students, for example, are persons of color; sixty percent (60%) of MCTC’s nursing graduates this year were born outside of the U.S.

“This is fantastic news for the students we serve who are pursuing health care careers,” noted Avelino Mills-Novoa, President of Minneapolis Community & Technical College.  “It is gratifying to see a White House Summit bringing attention and traction to an apprenticeship model that is very relevant to our students.”

Time for Creative Partnerships

MCTC has a nursing education partnership with Augsburg College, where MCTC nursing students are provisionally admitted to Augsburg’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.  According to Augsburg’s President and CCAP Chair Paul Pribbenow, this is but one example of strategic alliances that the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership can pursue to promote educational and economic opportunity for  students.  “We are living in a time where creative and nimble partnerships are increasingly important,” Pribbenow observed.  “And you can see from the White House Summit that our Anchor Partnership is on the right track with this model.”

Two year degree nurses are more likely to find employment in long term care, where wages are lower, and resources for tuition reimbursement and nursing education advancement are more scarce.  Without thoughtful intervention, a more diverse nursing workforce in acute care is less likely, and the population of more diverse two year degree nurses are more likely to stay employed in long term care, where wages are lower and advancement opportunities are less.  The caregiver turnover rate and vacancy rate for long term care facilities in the Twin Cities are significant; and while many four year RNs may start their careers in long term   care, most have moved to acute care settings within a relatively short time.

Next Steps and National Significance

The Partnership’s work group is currently solidifying participation among hospitals, long term care facilities, and nursing educators to build the apprenticeship model and prepare funding applications.  The current plan calls for establishing up to 200 additional nursing apprenticeships, which when added to Fairview’s 150 would create a pilot of national significance.

MCTC Interim President and Vice President “Sleep Out” with YouthLink

Posted on: September 28th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

YouthLink sleep outAs the night sky darkened under a rare “super blood moon,” MCTC Interim President Avelino Mills-Novoa and Alberto Day, YouthLink ambassador and MCTC student on hiatus, took this photo (right) at YouthLink’s Night of Hope event September 27.

MCTC Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Patrick Troup and Avelino talked with Alberto at the event, encouraging him to finish his associate degree. Alberto has a dream of finishing his Bachelor of Arts in Social Work at the University of Minnesota – Morris and continuing on to become a social worker.

Interim President Avelino Mills-novoa would like to thank you to those everyone who generously donated to support YouthLink and its mission – donations totaled $2,500! It is not too late if you want to make a contribution. Please go to and scroll down to MCTC Team, click on the team, and make a contribution supporting YouthLink’s work on behalf of homeless youth. The webpage will be up through next week. Thank You!

MCTC Library Celebrates the Freedom to Read!

Posted on: September 28th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Banned books in the MCTC libraryThis week is Banned Books Week and the MCTC Library is celebrating its freedom to read with a display featuring some frequently challenged books from its collection!

Stop by the reference area book display to check out some of these titles and see the reasons they have been challenged. You can also visit to learn more about Banned Books Week and celebrate your freedom to read.

More Than a Single Story: Black Women Writers, Including MCTC Instructors, Hold Panel Discussions

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

MCTC English Instructors Carolyn Holbrook and Valerie Deus were featured in the Star Tribune this week for their work organizing and participating in More Than a Single Story, a series of collaborative discussions by and about black women writers.  Funded by a Minnesota State Arts Board arts initiative grant, a series of three panel discussions on black women writers will take place in the coming weeks. These sessions include:

  • African-American writers, 2:30 p.m. Sept. 27
  • Caribbean writers, 2:30 p.m. Oct. 4
  • African writers, 2:30 p.m. Nov. 15

These sessions will take place at The Loft at Open Book, 1011 Washington Av. S., Mpls.

Read the full Star Tribune story here. Be sure to check out Valerie’s poetry featured in the right-hand sidebar as well!

The original story and photo are posted below.


Writers Mary Moore Easter, Kari Mugo and MCTC Instructor Valerie Deus. Photo by Brian Peterson, Star Tribune.

Loft to host panel discussions on black women writers

Black women writers talk about what infuses their writing – and what makes them distinctive.

By Laurie Hertzel Star Tribune

At a reading at Birchbark Books a few years ago, Carolyn Holbrook was taken aback by the comment of a woman in the audience. The woman was white, and Holbrook and the other writers who were reading are black.

The white woman said, “Oh, my gosh, I’m just shocked that you’re all so different,” Holbrook recalled. “And that sort of stuck in my craw.”

From that evening came the seed of an idea that has bloomed into “More Than a Single Story,” a series of discussions with black women writers from all over — Kenya, Haiti, Somalia, Nigeria, the American South, and elsewhere — who have settled in Minnesota. The discussions, moderated by Holbrook, will be held at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

In July, Holbrook invited more than a dozen such writers to her St. Paul home for a potluck dinner. Over glasses of Soul Sister pinot noir, salmon salad and coconut cake, they discussed issues surrounding writing and identity. The conversation was enthusiastic and wide-ranging.

“What is the canon for black women? Do we have a canon? Who should we be reading, and why?” Holbrook recalled. “Identity — how do we each identify, and why? Does the woman from Nigeria who went to Carleton College identify as a Nigerian writer, or as an African-American writer?

“What was supposed to be like an hour and a half dinner turned into four and a half hours. None of us was looking at the clock.”

Not everyone agreed on every point — not by a long shot. But they all concurred that they speak with different voices, and that those voices spring partly from their backgrounds.

Writing from exile

African writers, said Kari Mugo, who is from Kenya, often tend to be less direct and more mysterious in their prose. “We have a lot of hidden meanings. We’re making analogies. We’re big into painting something big and elaborate and then having you find the one thing we want you to look at.”

Family history is crucial, too. “We’re so attuned to identifying with our tribe,” Mugo said. “I think in general a lot of the tribal societies tend to have some sort of oral histories. Within my tribe, it’s something that’s been there for hundreds of years — telling the past and imagining the future.”

Valerie Déus was born in Brooklyn, but she considers herself primarily a Haitian writer. “There was a time in my life when I didn’t realize there were other black people,” she said. “My neighborhood was so completely Haitian.”

The Haitian proverbs and fables that she grew up listening to have since become interlaced with her work. “If you grew up hearing tales from your grandmother, those stories become part of your stories,” she said.

Déus’ parents moved to the United States in the 1970s to escape the oppressive regime of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, “and in that time, people came here with the expectation of being able to go back,” Déus said. “I was always raised with this idea that Haiti was this place where we were going to be.”

But her family has returned only for visits, and perhaps because of that, much of Déus’ writing deals with sadness and loss. “I think for my writing there’s a feeling of being in exile,” she said.

Mugo used the same word: Exile. At the July dinner, she said, “We talked a lot about [my] writing from the perspective of a queer African. About not being able to go back home because of that.

“There was a sort of general consensus that we were all writing from exile. We all felt detached from the larger society, felt detached from a home that was far away. Detached from a society that is predominantly white.”

For her, though, race alone was less of an issue. “We don’t become black until we move to this country,” Mugo said.

Race, and language

But for African-American writers, there is no escaping race.

“I think the nature of the concept of race is the thing that is with African-American writers all the time,” said Mary Moore Easter, a poet and memoirist who taught at Carleton College for more than 40 years. “It is part of the whole identity. It is all around you.

“In this country, no matter how much this society tries, blackness is a monolithic thing in the common mind.

“Anything that explodes that and gives evidence of the tremendous diversity of thought and feeling is significant.”

Easter said she was less interested in establishing a canon than she was in urging writers to read widely and deeply, and to pay attention to their own traditions.

“It’s hard to make a canon … of those things that should be in your ears — dialect, particular kinds of language usage,” she said. “That ancestry that feeds the writing and in which a person needs to be immersed. It tells you how the English language works — and that includes paying attention to the way that dialects or patois work.”

That said, all of the women mentioned writers they admired and had learned from: poet Phillis Wheatley, Alice Walker, Lucille Clifton, Edwidge Danticat, Roxane Gay.

And everyone mentioned Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story” was one of Holbrook’s inspirations for these panels. During that talk — one of the most popular TED talks ever — Adichie warned of the dangers of assuming that people of color all speak with one voice. “Show people as one thing over and over again, and that’s what they become,” she said.

Easter found the July dinner discussion fascinating because of the enthusiasm and the ideas — but also because of the disagreements.

“It’s amazing when you find differing opinions within a group that you thought might approach things in the same way,” she said. “That was one of the most exciting things about being with all of these women.

“I’m the one who said at the end of the evening, ‘This was the panel!’ The disagreement that is refining ideas and impressions, this is the kind of thing we want to do.”


What: A series of three panel discussions on black women writers, hosted by Carolyn Holbrook, funded by a Minnesota State Arts Board arts initiative grant.

When: African-American writers, 2:30 p.m. Sept. 27; Caribbean writers, 2:30 p.m. Oct. 4; African writers, 2:30 p.m. Nov. 15.

Where: The Loft at Open Book, 1011 Washington Av. S., Mpls.

Laurie Hertzel • 612-673-7302

Join MCTC for a Celebration of Law Enforcement Instructor Debbie Montgomery Oct. 5

Posted on: September 22nd, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Debbie Montgomery, MCTCTrailblazer, community leader, politician, senior commander and Minneapolis Community and Technical College Law Enforcement instructor—that’s part of Debbie Montgomery’s story.

Debbie is honored to share her wisdom from her career as the first female, as well as the first African American female, St. Paul City police officer. Montgomery was also the youngest member ever elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Recently a street segment in St. Paul was named after her.

Please join us for a gathering at which she will share with some of the highlights of her career. Drawing upon her experience, Montgomery also will offer some insights and reflections into the growing rift between police and communities of color.

  • Monday, Oct. 5
  • 1–2 p.m.
  • L.3100