graphic design for the Sun Post and NHCC's column

May is a time to celebrate the successes of our campus community!

We were honored to host the 2024 Building Strong Communities graduation ceremony on May 3 recognizing 105 graduates who will enter careers in the trades right here in Minnesota! A big thank you to all the community partners who made this opportunity possible, including Xcel Energy Minnesota Power Up Program, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council and its 49 affiliated Construction Unions and more.

On May 7, six biology transfer pathway students participated in a celebration for earning their bachelor’s degree through Bemidji State University right here on NHCC’s campus, and 30 nursing students participated in a pinning ceremony on May 9.

It gave me great pride to recognize North Hennepin Community College’s 57th graduating class of 750 students on their huge accomplishment! Several hundred students, along with their families and friends, NHCC faculty and staff, joined us for an in-person celebration at the Heritage Center of Brooklyn Center on May 10. You can view a replay of the ceremony thanks to CCX Media by visiting

Behind the formal celebrations, of course, are the incredible stories of our students, faculty and staff highlighted every year through the Student Life Awards.

Sylvester Jah accepted the Student of the Year Award for his active participation in Student Life. Sylvester majored in biology and will transfer credits to BSU to pursue a bachelor’s degree to prepare him for a career in genetics and chemistry. When asked about his NHCC experience, Sylvester said “NHCC gave me the opportunity to discover my potential while embracing the community.”

English faculty Heidi Farrah accepted the Faculty of the Year Award for her teaching style that allows students to improve and progress from whatever level they are at when they begin the class. When reflecting on the award, Heidi said, “I felt very moved and humbled to be recognized in this way by the students. Our students, after all, are what NHCC is all about. Truly, it meant the world.”

Zoey Bratten accepted the Club/Organization Officer of the Year Award for her organizing power and motivational energy behind the Environmental Association. Zoey will transfer to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to pursue a bachelor’s degree in youth studies and a master’s degree in social work. She credits NHCC for helping her learn how to balance her time and life and said, “I have made lifelong friendships and connections at North Hennepin, and the people I have met during my journey here are people I plan to keep around forever. I never thought my community college experience would bring so much involvement and kind people.”

Biology faculty Tamara Mans accepted the Advisor of the Year Award for mentoring and providing opportunities for students in the Biology Club. She credits the students for hosting a robust collection of events, including a tour of Cargill’s labs, making terrariums and inviting researchers to campus to talk about their work and career paths. She said, “I consider myself lucky to be able to support them in all these activities. Spending time with these ambitious, energetic, and inclusive students in the club is often the highlight of my week!”

Of course, these annual celebrations could not take place without the critical financial support from the Minnesota Legislature that preserves and maintains our campus facilities and provides critical supports to student learning. We appreciate the work of our elected representatives who review, discuss, negotiate, collaborate and make difficult decisions on the state’s budget.

Rolando García is president of North Hennepin Community College. Send commentary to

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