Academic Excellence Award: Justin Larson

Justin Larson

Justin Larson
Radiologic Technology ’17
Plymouth, MN

Justin Larson spent time exploring career options at Normandale Community College before finding a passion for radiology when he decided to transfer to Anthem College’s Radiologic Technology program in 2014.

“I really enjoyed the job I was training for at Anthem, and I wanted to go the next level up,” Larson said. “Dunwoody’s program seemed to be the best in the area with the smallest classes and great placement rates. It was better located for me, too.”

After applying for admission, Larson enrolled in Dunwoody’s Radiologic Technology program in fall 2015 and will graduate in August 2017. He is this year’s Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Radiologic Technology department.

“Justin has never missed a class or clinical,” Program Director Dave Blake said. “The program gives monthly mock exams of the national exam. He has scored the highest on these ever in the program’s history.”

Larson attributes his success in the program to his close-knit cohort and helpful instructors.

“The instructors do a great job with the small class sizes and keeping us engaged,” Larson said. “With our class in particular, there is almost like a competitive atmosphere. Not that we’re being competitive, but we’re always pushing each other to do as much as we can to improve.”

In addition to the relationships he’s forged in college, Larson feels confident in entering the workforce with his skills and experience.

“The key thing that sets Dunwoody apart in my mind is that it really prepares you for the job experience,” Larson said. “It’s not just learning the book stuff. You’re getting hands-on experience and skills that you can directly apply to your job.”

Larson will be taking the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JCERT) exam this summer. Upon successful completion of the exam, Larson will start to apply for jobs with the goal to work in a hospital doing radiology.

 

Dunwoody’s Academic Regalia

As the faculty and graduates enter, they will be wearing academic regalia. This practice dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries when universities in Europe were first taking shape.

Originally, academic regalia was worn at all times by the faculty and students, but, for practical reasons, it is now worn mainly at college commencements.

The standard academic dress includes a robe, some type of cap (usually a mortarboard) and a hood. A tassel is worn on the cap, and after the degrees are awarded, the students move the tassel from the right to the left to indicate their status as a graduate.

There are several variations of regalia based on student achievements. In addition to the traditional red cap and gown, here’s what you might also see at Commencement:

PTK Regalia

A yellow stole and tassel means that a student was inducted into PTK, the College’s national honor society. These graduates are recognized for their outstanding academic achievement by earning a minimum GPA of 3.5. Once inducted into PTK, these students maintained a 3.25 GPA and conducted a minimum of three hours of community service each semester.

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If a graduate is wearing gold cords over their robe, this means they’re graduating Summa Cum Laude. These are students who have attained a cumulative grade point average of 3.9 or better.

IMG_2028If a graduate is wearing silver cords over their robe, this means they’re graduating Magna Cum Laude. These are students who have attained a cumulative grade point average of 3.70 to 3.89.

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If a graduate is wearing white cords over their robe, this means they’re graduating Cum Laude. These are students who have attained a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 to 3.69.

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Red, white, and blue tassels indicate that the gradate is serving in the military or is a veteran.

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Today’s bachelor’s degree candidates are wearing hoods with a black shell silk-lined in silver and red, representing the colors of Dunwoody. The graduates’ academic majors are represented by the following colors:

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Brown: Applied Management & Leadership or Applied Management & Leadership with MIS Concentration

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Maroon: Construction Management

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Orange: Industrial Engineering Technology

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Purple: Interior Design

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Dunwoody also honors alumni who weren’t able to walk during their commencement year by allowing them to participate in current Commencement ceremonies. These alumni are signified by the gray robes and caps.

Dunwoody faculty will be wearing the regalia from their alma mater, donning hoods that feature their institution’s traditional colors.

Find more information on Dunwoody’s 2017 Commencement Ceremony.

Academic Excellence Award: Peng Her

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Peng Her
Electrical Construction & Maintenance ’16
Fresno, California

Peng Her’s path to Dunwoody was not an easy one—but it most certainly paid off.

Growing up near Fresno, California, Her found himself living a lifestyle he didn’t want for himself anymore. Ready to make a change, he packed his bags, moved to Minnesota, and decided to apply to Dunwoody.

“When I was younger, my dad told me that I was a smart child. If I would pay attention and put my heart into what I wanted to do, I would succeed,” Her said. “As we grew up, I got distracted and was conformed to the world around me. I ended up taking the wrong roads to satisfy my needs and did not realize what my dad meant.”

“Before I started Dunwoody, my dad told me the same thing. My dad hoped that since I had grown, I would take his advice and [do] my best at Dunwoody.”

And do his best he did.

Just weeks into his first semester of Dunwoody’s Electrical Construction & Maintenance program, Her was already at the top of his class.

“Peng’s performance set the bar high for his fellow classmates,” Senior Instructor Jeff Chase said. “As a leader in the classroom, his skills created and maintained a culture that allowed students to strive for excellence.”

But Her didn’t set that bar just for himself—he wanted his classmates to reach it too.

“He never hesitated to assist his fellow classmates,” Chase said. “He always had time to explain concepts, share lecture notes, and even just give a word of encouragement to a peer.”

Her’s drive to succeed earned him a spot on the Dean’s List for every semester he attended Dunwoody. Her was also inducted into the College’s Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and is the 2017 Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Construction Sciences & Building Technology department.

“[Winning the award] is an honor,” Her said. “It made me recognize that hard work pays off. It does not matter who you are or what you have done. Work hard and someone will recognize you.”

Her graduated Dunwoody in December of 2016. He has since been working as the Corporate Director of Maintenance for Lancer Hospitality, a national organization that provides food and beverage services to a number of venues including corporate cafeterias, schools, and public attractions such as the Minnesota Zoo and Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

Academic Excellence Award: Bradley Williams

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Bradley D. Williams
Automotive Service Technology ’17
Excelsior, Minnesota

Before enrolling in the Automotive Service Technology program at Dunwoody College of Technology, Bradley Williams hadn’t really considered a career in the automotive industry. In fact, he had originally planned on becoming a high school history teacher.

He even attended Winona State University for a year, before deciding that life in a classroom just wasn’t for him.

“I liked working with my hands,” Williams, a Minnetonka High School graduate, said. “And I’ve always enjoyed taking things apart and then putting them back together again. So I thought automotive would be a good fit.”

As it turns out, it was more than just a good fit – it was the perfect fit. Williams has excelled in his courses during the past two years and received the 2017 Academic Excellence Award in Automotive.

The accomplishment is even more impressive when combined with the fact that Williams underwent brain surgery this past fall. Early in his second year, Williams started experiencing headaches. After visiting the doctor, he learned that the headaches were caused by a tumor in his brain and he would need surgery. The news was scary, but Williams was determined to not let it stop him from earning his degree.

Scheduling the surgery over Thanksgiving break, Williams worked with faculty members to stay current with his coursework during his two and a half week recovery – studying from his bed and checking-in on a daily basis. When he returned to campus, it was like he hadn’t missed a single day.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support and help of my teachers,” Williams said.

Williams said that he discovered Dunwoody after a friend from high school attended the welding program and got a great job after graduation.

Since enrolling, he has come to love spending most of his day working with the latest and greatest in automotive technology, a trait he might have inherited from his grandfather who enjoyed a career as a diesel mechanic.

Williams said the most important lessons he’s learned at Dunwoody is to take your time, be thorough and don’t be afraid to make a mistake. “Working in the automotive field requires a lot of problem-solving and creative thinking,” he said.

Automotive technicians are in high demand, so choosing the right career path has been Williams’ biggest focus. “Having a Dunwoody degree puts you ahead of other candidates,” Williams said.

Academic Excellence Award: Cecilia Oberg

Cecilia Oberg

Cecilia Oberg
Pre-Media Technologies ‘17
St. Paul, MN

Ceclia Oberg has always had the desire to do something hands-on. So when she joined the Air Force five years ago, she signed up for an HVAC installation job, learning the trade in a compact 6-month program.

Enjoying the construction industry and wanting to follow in her father’s footsteps, Oberg began classes at Dunwoody two years ago in the Surveying & Civil Engineering program.

But after one semester in the program, Oberg felt she wanted to go in a different direction. With the guidance of Student Advisor Zac Mans, Oberg found her passion when she walked into the pre-media packaging lab.

“When I came into the design lab and talked about packaging and being able to build packages, that really sparked my interested,” Oberg said. “I really wanted to get into that.”

Serving as a leader in the classroom, Oberg immediately excelled in the program. And when it came time for her cohort to prepare for the annual Intern Showcase, Oberg was chosen as the project manager for the Intern Showcase Guidebook.

Oberg will be graduating in May as the Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Design & Graphics Technology Department.

“Oberg has brought with her a background that showcases responsibility and leadership.” Principal Instructor Pete Rivard said. “She proves herself time and again to be friendly, collaborative, creative and most importantly, very reliable.”

Oberg is currently interning at Dolan Printing as a graphic designer and production artist. After graduation, Oberg will be deployed for 6 months. Upon return, she hopes to freelance with the long-term goal of starting her own shop for packaging.

Academic Excellence Award: Tiara Hill

Tiara Hill

Tiara Hill
Welding & Metal Fabrication ’17
Minneapolis, MN

Tiara Hill has never let fear stand in her way. In fact, the Minneapolis native was terrified of the sparks when she first experienced the Welding & Metal Fabrication program at Dunwoody College of Technology as a Youth Career Awareness Program student. So when it came time to choose which degree program she would enroll in, the answer was obvious – welding.

“I knew that I wanted to work with my hands, but I had no idea it would be welding,” Hill said, adding that she really enjoys the artistic side of welding.

Two years later, Hill has not only conquered her fear – she’s also excelled as a student. Hill was selected this year as both the Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Robotics & Manufacturing program area and the Student Leadership Award recipient for the Alumni Board of Managers.

A graduate of Park Center Senior High School, Hill wasn’t sure if she would be able to attend college. She had applied for a number of scholarships, but none of them had worked out. So when a case manager at a local non-profit suggested Hill apply for the YCAP scholarship at Dunwoody, she was skeptical.

“Before Dunwoody, college was nothing but a dream for me,” Hill said. “I really think this was the best decision I ever made.”

Now about to graduate with her Associate in Applied Science degree, Hill is already planning to continue her education and has enrolled in the Bachelor completion program for Industrial Engineering at Dunwoody.

“What drives me to keep going is my past and knowing that there is another part of life out there that I want a chance to see and experience,” Hill said.

Hill is motivated to succeed by the people in her life. Her mother has been an inspiration at home, always encouraging her to keep going and never give up. At school, Hill said her instructors, such as Denise Bailey, have served as an amazing support system.

One day, Hill hopes to inspire and motivate others. She already has plans to start her own business, taking on smaller welding jobs, and she hopes to encourage other youth – especially women – to take an interest in technical careers.

For now, Hill is excited about her future and all of the new opportunities awaiting her.

Academic Excellence Award: Paul Steffens

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Paul Steffens
Computer Networking Systems ’17
Monroe, WI

Growing up, Paul Steffens always had a knack for technology. In high school, Steffens and his friends would master video games and build computers. His love for science and the arts led him to Ripon College in Wisconsin, where he graduated with a degree in theatre.

Following graduation, Steffens became a professional actor, landing various acting and set construction jobs in Minnesota and Wisconsin. But the career brought a certain amount of emotional and financial instability to Steffens’ life, which led to his decision to go back to school.

During his search, Steffens was introduced to the College by Dunwoody Student Advisor Zac Mans, a fellow Ripon College alum. After taking a tour, talking with faculty, and learning more about the rigorous curriculum, Steffens decided to enroll in a field he has enjoyed since the very beginning: Computer Technology.

“My liberal arts degree was more steeped in theory,” Steffens said. “Here at Dunwoody, everything is so laser-focused on this hands-on experience. That was one of the biggest attractions of the college and the program itself for me.”

A prior interest in and knowledge of computers allowed Steffens to excel quickly his first year at Dunwoody. His second semester, he was inducted into the College’s Honor Society Phi Theta Kappa. In May of 2016, he accepted a position as a member of the IT Helpdesk in the Dunwoody IT department. Now in his final semester, Steffens is on track to graduate summa cum laude.

He is also the 2017 Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Computer Technology department.

“My drive to succeed has been significantly stronger this time around, in part due to the experiences I’ve had since graduating from Ripon” Steffens said. “Reflecting on where I am in my life, where I need to be going, and where I want to be going has really lit that fire.

“I set some very strong goals for myself coming into Dunwoody. I feel vindicated that all of the work I have been putting into my education—it’s nice to know that has paid off.”

Steffens is currently interviewing for jobs. He hopes his future career will be one that allows him to apply his presentation and theatrical skills to the technical skills he’s gained at Dunwoody.

Academic Excellence Award: Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson, Machine Tool Technology graduate

Andrew Johnson
Machine Tool Technology ‘17
Lonsdale, MN

Andrew Johnson wasn’t entirely sure if machining was the right fit for him when he decided to tour Dunwoody College of Technology in 2012.

On his tour, Johnson expressed his concerns to Tom Larsen, the Right Skills Now for Manufacturing Instructor. Larsen inspired Johnson to apply.

“He told me that if I put the effort and hard work into it, then I can succeed in machining,” Johnson said. “He gave me the confidence to pursue machining as a career path.”

With Larsen’s encouragement and the desire to earn a higher pay in a better work environment, Johnson decided to enroll in Dunwoody’s Right Skills Now for Manufacturing program, earning his certificate in 2013.

Certificate in hand, Johnson found a job as a CNC machinist at KEB America. However, his drive to move up in his field motivated him to come back to Dunwoody in 2015 to earn his Associate of Applied Science in Machine Tool Technology.

Between both his Right Skills Now for Manufacturing certificate and his Machine Tool Technology associate’s degree, Johnson has never missed (literally) one minute of class.

Johnson will be graduating this year as the Academic Excellence Award recipient for the Robotics & Manufacturing department.

Just a year into his associate’s degree, Johnson landed a new job as a mold maker apprentice at Donatelle. After graduation, Johnson plans to stay with Donatelle and refine his skills to eventually become a master toolmaker.

“My goal is to show Donatelle that I have what it takes to get to that level,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be a lot of hard work and dedication in order to be on the ball and learn.”