• ATCC Partners with Local Manufacturers to offer Huge Scholarships

    Minnesota faces a shortage of skilled employees in several sectors critical to the state’s economy.  In response, the Minnesota Legislature created the Workforce Development Scholarship program. 

    Minnesota State piloted the program with $1 million during the 2017-2018 school year.  Based on the pilot program’s success, the Legislature increased funding to the Workforce Development Scholarship program, providing $2 million for scholarships during the 2019-20 academic year, $6 million in the 2020-21 academic year, and $4 million in ongoing annual base funding beginning in the 2021-22 academic year.  This represents 66-$2,500 scholarships for ATCC students. 

    Students enrolled in a high-demand occupational program leading to employment in one of the six industries (Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture, Health Care Services, Information Technology, Early Childhood Education, and Transportation) are eligible for the program.  Other requirements are that students must be from Minnesota and maintain a 2.0 cumulative grade point average.  Alexandria Technical & Community College is partnering with 10 area high schools to find qualified candidates.   

    The college has also created a new category of scholarships. According to Jeff Wild, ATCC Foundation Executive Director, “Workplace Learning Scholarships are different and unique in that ATCC can increase the allocation by raising private scholarship funds, which are matched with the additional state-funded scholarships during subsequent academic years.  By partnering with local manufacturers, we are able to offer each student up to $5,000 by using state funds ($2,500) the first year and the match ($2,500) the second year. Partner organizations will also have the opportunity to interview these students for hands on, paid summer work experience. ”

    Industry manufacturing partners include Aagard, Alexandria Industries, FAST Global Solutions, Brenton Engineering and Douglas Machine. In addition, Polaris Industries is partnering on scholarships for Powersports students and Ziegler CAT for Diesel Mechanics students. “The support that we’ve received from our industry partners is huge and has allowed us the opportunity to leverage additional scholarships from the State,” said ATCC President Michael Seymour.   

    “It’s a win-win scenario,” said Seymour. “It’s an opportunity to attract more students into high demand occupations, provide on-the-job work experience for the student, and continue to work with business and industry to build the pipeline of trained, quality workforce in the region.”

    For more information about Workforce Development Scholarships and Manufacturing or Powersports Workplace Learning Scholarships, visit alextech.edu/scholarships.

    Note: Application deadline for most scholarships is April 1, 2020, with the exception of the Powersports Workplace Learning Scholarship, which has a deadline of April 15. Scholarship information may not be available after this time. Please call the ATCC Foundation with questions: 320-762-4670.

  • Diesel Students Receive Tool Gifts in Honor of Past Graduate

    Diesel students with Karen Schenk, posing with the torque wrenches they received.

    Although February 21st started out as any other Friday, the Alexandria Technical & Community College (ATCC) Diesel Mechanics students knew there was a special ceremony planned for 9 AM. All 81 students waited in anticipation to meet a generous donor who, they were told, would impact the lives of five second-year students.

    Dean Schenk, a 1971 ATCC Diesel graduate, passed away in September of 2017. To honor his memory, his wife, Karen Schenk, established the Dean Schenk Memorial Scholarship with the ATCC Foundation. This legacy gift in Dean’s name offers an annual scholarship to a student in the second year of training.

    Feeling called to do more, and because Dean loved his tools, Karen made a generous contribution to fund a “tool” scholarship in his memory. Five lucky students would be the recipient of a useful and expensive torque wrench valued at $1,000 to take with them as they begin their career.

    Karen said “We set up this tool fund to help you going out into the world. It’s what Dean would have been so proud to do, helping others. So be proud of what you learned here at Alex Tech, and be proud of what you do the rest of your life, whether it’s diesel mechanics or something else. Love life, and always do your best. Being proud of what you do equals being proud of your life.”

    After Karen shared her story with the students, it was time to learn who would be leaving that day with a special tool. The students were asked to record what they would say to a donor upon receiving a gift. To announce the five recipients, a video clip of each student was played. Jared Olson was awarded both the memorial scholarship and the tool gift. He said in his clip, “I’d have to thank [Karen] twice, not only for this opportunity, but also for the scholarship. I’d like to tell her that I think it’s a great thing, what she’s doing.”

    One by one, as their face appeared on the screen, five students came forward to thank and hug Karen. Giving these engraved tools in honor of her husband allows Karen to continue Dean’s generous spirit of helping others.  

    Retired instructor Dave Steussy also gave a brief history of the Diesel Mechanics program, showing the tremendous changes that have occurred both in the program and on campus over the years. He shared some important life lessons he felt would help the students have a successful career.

    Karen’s connection to the ATCC Diesel Mechanics program has come full circle. What started out as love for one of the college’s graduates has now turned into a legacy for the mechanic who left her too soon.

    Recipients included: Jared Olson from Barrett, Dylan Colbert from Westbrook, Logan Wagenius from Gaylord, Ethan Schurter from Big Lake, and Derrek Schmidt from Glencoe.

  • Wild named Vice President for Advancement & Outreach/Executive Director of Foundation at ATCC

    Jeff Wild, VP for Advancement & Outreach/Executive Director of Foundation

    Jeff Wild has been named to serve as the Vice President for Advancement & Outreach/Executive Director of Foundation at Alexandria Technical & Community College (ATCC).

    Wild oversees the admissions and marketing teams at the college, and also serves as Executive Director of the ATCC foundation.

    For more than 20 years, Wild managed Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center in Alexandria, and served as regional director for Regency Hotel Management for the past eight years. He has served on the board of directors for several community organizations, including the Alexandria Community Foundation, Explore Alexandria Tourism, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Alexandria Rotary Club. Wild brings a proven track record of making and nurturing connections with area business owners and residents, and looks forward to connecting the community to ATCC students, faculty, and staff.

    Additionally, Wild brings experience in recruiting multicultural students through the J-1 Foreign Exchange Program. This expertise will work hand in hand with ATCC’s ongoing commitment to diversity both at the college and in the community.

    Wild holds an Associate of Arts degree in Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Science degree. He and his family have lived in Alexandria for more than 20 years.

    “I feel honored to join the team at ATCC. I am excited to be able to utilize my previous hospitality experience to continue to build relationships with local business and industry,” said Wild. “Working together, we will strengthen and build upon our commitment to our students, our college and our community.”

  • First annual Believers & Achievers Gala surpasses fundraising goal

    Dressed-up individuals sit at a round table with a white tablecloth, at the Believers & Achievers Gala

    A car repair. An unexpected medical bill. A family emergency. These are common scenarios faced by Alexandria Technical & Community College (ATCC) students. These emergencies threaten a student’s ability to stay in school. In response, the ATCC Foundation held an event to raise money for these students in need.

    On the brisk evening of October 24, the ATCC Foundation hosted its first annual Believers & Achievers Gala. This new fundraising event included live and silent auctions, a wine pull game, a chance to win a pellet grill, and a live giving moment.

    The response from the Alexandria area community was spectacular. A sold-out crowd attended the gala at the Legacy of the Lakes Boathouse. The outpouring of community support and generosity of the gala attendees helped the ATCC Foundation surpass its fundraising goal and raise $100,000 for the Student Success Fund. This fund allows the ATCC Foundation to provide the most flexible support to help students stay in school. One way the Student Success Fund helps students is through emergency funding.

    Larry Lawal, one of the evening’s speakers, is a second-year student in ATCC’s Business Management program. Larry benefited from emergency funding from the ATCC Foundation. Larry was born in Nigeria and education was a priority to him. He has cousins who live in the United States, so he moved to pursue his dreams of higher education. As a child, Larry remembers his desire to be successful. He would envision himself wearing crisp suits and commanding the attention of others with the loud clicking his fancy shoes made when he walked. In his own words, here is Larry’s story.

    “In the spring of 2019, I was going to take a break from school because I was financially drained and there was no way I could pay my tuition for the spring semester. Then someone at the College told me about an emergency fund from the ATCC Foundation which I may qualify for. Fortunately, I qualified for funding and received help for my tuition and books for spring semester.

    I was relieved, I was like a little kid with a bowl of candy. I was so happy and I was literally jumping around the whole house. This grant allowed me to be able to concentrate more on school and reduce the hours that I put in to work and then dedicate those extra hours to school. This helped me to become a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society student in the spring 2019 semester, the same semester that I got the grant.”

    Other ATCC students have shared similar success as Larry. In the 2018-2019 school year, 75% of ATCC students who received emergency funding were successful in continuing their schooling.

    ATCC’s president, Michael Seymour, spoke about the importance of supporting students through life’s obstacles so they can finish their degree. Michael recounted his own struggles in enrolling and paying for his first semester of college. It was a groundskeeper who noticed he looked lost and anxious and led him to the right office. Michael shared that if not for that groundskeeper, he might not be where he is today.

    The ATCC Foundation looks forward to hosting another Believers & Achievers Gala in the fall of 2020.