WIEL Center externship

Sharing the successes and accomplishments of our NHCC faculty and staff allows us to cultivate a more vibrant community.

NHCC Faculty Leads a Panel Discussion on "AI in the Classroom" 

Steven Ahola, EAP faculty at NHCC, recently collaborated with colleagues from Harold Washington College in Chicago and the University of Illinois Chicago to spearhead a panel discussion entitled "Bridging the Divide: Faculty Perspectives on AI in the Classroom" at the TESOL International Convention & Expo in Tampa, FL, on March 23, 2024. Congratulations, Steven!!

NHCC faculty, Steven Ahola, second from left, with a group of other faculty smiling before giving a presentation

Maria Vittone Receives a 2024 Leadership Award

Each year, the Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact (IAMNCC, now known as Seed Coalition) present awards to campus leaders from the two states. We're proud to share that a Presidents' Civic Engagement Leadership Award was given to Maria Vittone! 

This award recognizes a member of the faculty, administration, staff, or a group (such as an advisory committee, task force, or project team) that has significantly advanced their campus’ distinctive civic mission by forming strong partnerships, supporting the civic and community engagement efforts of others and working to institutionalize a culture and practice of engagement. 

Adding to Maria's nomination, NHCC's Vice President of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management, Julio Vargas-Essex commented, "Your commitment and passion for making a difference in the community is evident in everything you do, from your work with students to your involvement in community partnerships. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed; this award is a well-deserved recognition of your hard work and dedication. Congratulations once again on this outstanding achievement. We are proud to have you on our team and look forward to celebrating your success!” 

Screenshot of Maria Vittone's award nomination


Exciting News from our Military & Veteran Services Coordinator!

Along with being the Military/Veteran Services Coordinator and School Certifying Official here at NHCC, Dylan Rowinski has been serving in the Minnesota Army National Guard as a musician for just over six years. His part-time service is with the 34th Infantry Division Band based in Arden Hills, MN, where Dylan was promoted from the rank of Sergeant to Staff Sergeant in November of 2023. To fulfill this promotion, he was required to complete a 3-week Advanced Leader Course (ALC) held in March at the U.S. Army School of Music in Virginia Beach, Virginia. At this leadership course, he and his peers learned about and were assessed on several core leadership competencies for Soldier-musicians at the Staff Sergeant rank. Dylan exceeded the standard in all his assessments, also earning the Distinguished Leadership Award from a vote by his peers in the course. Congratulations, Dylan, and welcome back!

NHCC's Veteran Services Coordinator, Dylan Rowinski, receiving a MN Army National Guard award
NHCC's Veteran Services Coordinator, Dylan Rowinski, singing and playing guitar with his MN Army National Guard group

Our New NHCC Commercial is Now Streaming 

The NHCC Marketing Department recently launched their advertising campaign to support recruitment efforts for Fall 2024, including outdoor billboards, radio (Spotify, Pandora), social media (Facebook, Instagram), digital (search, YouTube, streaming) and direct mail.

We're excited to share the new commercial that is currently streaming via a variety of networks through June 2. Our script was carefully crafted with input from key stakeholders, including students. The goal of this commercial was to showcase NHCC’s academics, resources, welcoming environment, and of course our students, faculty, and staff, with a strong call to action about free college tuition.

We would like to give a BIG thank you for the campus-wide collaborations that it took to create this spot, including features from: Admissions, Biology, Bookstore, CARE Center, Coffee Shop, Computer Science, Graphic Design, Nursing, Technology Services, Theatre, and Student Affairs! This commercial wouldn’t have been possible without your help!

Please enjoy viewing our new commercial!!

The NHCC Marketing Department 
(Liz Hogenson, Becki Schwartz, Brittany Kiser, Matt Klinkhammer and Sara Barrera)

A photo of an iPhone browsing the NHCC website

Staff Award Winners Announced at our Recent Employee Recognition Celebration

On April 11th in the HWC Gym, our HR department took the time to highlight the work of NHCC employees in a Recognition Celebration. Six NHCC employees received awards at the celebration. 

Ellie McDowell, our NHCC Social Worker received the 2024 Excellence in Service Award (pictured at the event, below). 

NHCC employee, Ellie McDowell with her Excellence award

Nou (Sunny) Vang, NHCC's Assistant Director of Integrated Services & Weekend College received the 2024 Excellence in Service -Emerging Leader Award (pictured at the event, below). 

NHCC employee, Nou (Sunny) Vang holding her excellence in service award

Jessica Lokers, NHCC Testing Advisor received the 2024 Innovation of the Year Award (pictured at the event, below). 

NHCC employee, Jessie Lokers with her innovation of the year award

Maria Vittone, Nontraditional Careers Advisor at NHCC received the 2024 Diversity Equity Award (pictured at the event, below). 

NHCC employee, Maria Vittone with her diversity award

Melissa Leimbek, NHCC Dean of Enrollment Management  and Madi Chuba, NHCC Director of Admissions & Testing, received the Excellence in Service Award for Outstanding Achievement (pictured at the event, below). 

NHCC Employees Melissa and Madi at the recognition event with their awards

Adam Bart Featured on Twin Cities Live in March

Shout-out to Adam Bart, NHCC TRIO Advisor for being featured on March 28th with his wife on Twin Cities Live! Adam gave the hosts a mini lesson, while highlighting his musical endeavors with the School of Rock in Plymouth. You rock, Adam! 

Watch the video clip, here!  

a photo of Adam Bart on Twin Cities Live playing music instruments with the hosts

That's a wrap on faculty and staff accomplishments for the spring 2024 semester! We hope you have a terrific and restful summer! 


Faculty & Staff Accomplishments --
From the Archives (March 2024)

A Special Responsibility for Luna Akhtar  
NHCC Biology faculty, Dr. Luna Akhtar, also works at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Animal Science. There, one of her new responsibilities is to care for the recently pardoned White House turkeys, Liberty and Bell! The two turkeys will live out the rest of their days in luxury at the U of M. Liberty and Bell require a lot of special care and attention, which Luna gives them on a regular basis. This news is being shared a bit belatedly, since this was a highly classified operation during Thanksgiving time (and the exciting news couldn’t be shared until clearance was given from Luna (and President Biden. 😉). Learn more at this link

a photo of two white, presidential turkeys named, Liberty and Bell

NHCC English Faculty Creates Student Residency Fellowship for Writers on Tennessee Farm 
Last semester, NHCC English faculty, Eugene Gazelka created and submitted the G. GAZELKA AND FRIENDS FELLOWSHIP to the Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA), a non-profit artist residency program located at Firefly Farms, near Knoxville, Tennessee.  This residency program was created for students enrolled in Eugene's 1900-51: Introduction to Creative Writing course this spring. SAFTA is known as being an especially safe place for women, LGBTQ and BIPOC writers and artists. In total, this fellowship will cover a 1-week residency and small travel fund. Fellowship submissions are competitive and they will be judged by SAFTA. This initiative is largely supported among NHCC English faculty and friends of Eugene. Learn more at this link

Additionally, NHCC faculty, Eugene Gazelka received 7th Honorable Mention for their manuscript 'Bodies in Transition' from the League of Minnesota Poets 2023 John Rezmerski Memorial Manuscript Competition. Way to go, Eugene! 

a photo of a white barn-house at Firefly Farm in grassy Tennessee

GCST Faculty at NHCC Receives Formal Educator of the Year Award
We would like to congratulate NHCC faculty, Ana Munro, for recently receiving a Formal Educator of the Year award from the Minnesota Association for Environmental Education!

Speaking at their awards ceremony last week, Ana added, “It is a huge honor for me to receive this award. Thank you to the Minnesota Association for Environmental Education for valuing my work. It is hard work, and work of the heart, and hugely important work, because every young person deserves to grow up with a deep and real connection with our Mother Earth. Thank you to all the students who showed up today to support me- I dedicate this award to you!"

We are very proud of you, Ana!

photo of Ana Munro smiling with an wooden award trophy shaped like Minnesota



















CARE Center Staff, Featured in The Food Group Newsletter 
NHCC CARE Center staff, Ellie McDowell and Austin Borowitz were recently featured in a newsletter from The Food Group discussing the topic of filling the nutrition gap on college campuses. Find the newsletter article here at this link. Thanks for representing NHCC and for speaking on the food cupboard resources we offer to students on-campus, Ellie and Austin! 

a screenshot from a Food Group newsletter featuring a photo of NHCC Care Center staff Ellie and Austin in the Food Cupboard


a photo of NHCC Social Worker, Ellie standing next to fruit in the Food Cupboard, smiling

Rising Icon, Maria Vittone
We would like to recognize NHCC Nontraditional Careers Advisor, Maria Vittone, for her innovative work and commitment to supporting students who are pursuing nontraditional careers. Maria has been named a Rising Icon by local media relations agency, LAUREL. NHCC wouldn't be the same without Maria's warm, easygoing and encouraging personality. She is an asset to students everyday, inspiring them and helping them to be their best selves. Find info about Maria's LAUREL nomination at this link and read her story at this link

a photo of NHCC staff Maria Vittone announcing her nomination for ICON award

Three months into the year and that's a wrap on faculty and staff accomplishments so far.
We can't wait to see what else you accomplish this spring semester! 

Faculty & Staff Accomplishments --
From the Archives (December 2023)


Exciting News for the GCST 1970 "Belonging" Documentary 
NHCC faculty, Ana Munro received news that the GCST 1970 documentary “Belonging” is an Official Selection for the Ely Film Festival, February 8-11, 2024! The documentary was produced by BairStories, a local storytelling agency, that helps nonprofits elevate empathy, community, and donations through emotive storytelling. Footage for “Belonging” was gathered this fall on a Nature Immersion trip with Ana's class. View the documentary here. For more information about GCST 1970 and the recently held documentary screening at NHCC, visit our blog.
Congratulations to you all and good luck at the Film Festival!

a title slide for the documentary "Belonging."

NHCC Faculty Uses the Power of Entrepreneurship to Transform Lives
Business faculty, Todd Johnson shares info below regarding an entrepreneurship trip he took to South Africa earlier this year.

“I was invited to South Africa in August to address poverty alleviation through Entrepreneurship. Many terms exist for this, I like Transformational Entrepreneurship, but the formal name is "Social Entrepreneurship." I went there in Mid-August.

South Africa is plagued by inequity. I was working with third generation child-led households. Each student was between the ages of 20-28 and had a business idea, however, needed help taking the next steps. I led them for a week's worth of classes and provided leadership development and entrepreneurship instruction.

These students were all rescued around the ages of 8-14, after being orphaned by AIDS and were in incredibly vulnerable circumstances at the time. Although most of these students have college degrees now, the pathway to employment is bleak; as South Africa suffers from a 70% unemployment rate for people under the age of 30.  

The only pathway out of generational poverty for many is through Entrepreneurship and in particular, breaking through geographical barriers that prevent the extremely poor from succeeding. I was able to work and learn from area business leaders from South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia to help break these geographic barriers by creating tourism opportunities that bring in revenue from outside the country and create permanent jobs.

I am continuing to help the students I taught by helping refine business plans and am consulting with a unique startup AirBnB concept that can secure a livelihood for three families per property.”

a photo of NHCC faculty, Todd Johnson in Africa

Pictured with Todd Johnson are Edwin of Uganda (left) and Joseph of Zambia (right) who are business leaders in their countries working to alleviate poverty through Entrepreneurship.

a group photo of students in Africa with NHCC faculty, Todd Johnson

This group photo was taken after the week-long Entrepreneurship workshop was complete, Todd is also in the picture (far right).

Faculty Celebrations from NHCC's English Department
Thank you to English faculty, Brian Baumgart for sending out an email bursting with accomplishments from the English department! We are highlighting the list again, below!


  • Haley Lasché released her first full-length poetry collection One on October 23. It is available through Beaty School Editions, LLC, a poetry press she founded and runs with former NHCC faculty member, Paula Cisewski. The official release party for the book will be in 2024 on January 5th, at The Wolf House in NE Minneapolis. More details can be found on Beauty School's website.
The cover of a poetry journal titled One.









  • Vanessa Ramos’ novel for children, Wishing on a Star with Estrella, has been announced and available for pre-order in both paperback and hardcover (Stone Arch Books, pub. Jan. 2024).            
the book NHCC faculty, Vanessa Ramos wrote









Rockvale Review literary journal









  • Margaret LaFleur has a short story, “All’s Well,” published in The Kenyon Review.
  • Katie Rauk has a poem, “Composition 101,” published in Concision Poetry Journal, and another poem, “In the Spring of My 42nd Year,” in Rogue Agent.
  • Brian Baumgart has poetry out in A-Minor Magazine, Thimble Literary Magazine, Emerge Literary Journal, and others forthcoming in Bear Paw Arts Journal, Last Syllable and South Dakota Review.

“My Songs [Sonnets] for Terrorists #8,” A-Minor Magazine
“His Memory (of Memory)” and “The Private Version,” Emerge Literary Journal
-   “A Simple Question of Measurement,” Thimble Literary Magazine. 

Grants, Positions, Awards, & Programs:

  • Kelly Lundquist was awarded an Artist Learning grant through the Central Minnesota Arts Board and McKnight Foundation.
  • Cindy Johanek was re-elected to another 2-year term as the Two-Year College Representative to the Int'l Writing Centers Association (IWCA) Executive Board (2023-25). 
  • Haley Lasché founded the poetry press Beauty School Editions, in addition to continuing on as the founder, editor, and designer of the literary magazine, Concision Poetry Journal.
  • Ana Munro was awarded the Education Minnesota Foundation Impact Grant for Year 2 for GCST 1970 Environmental Justice and Nature Immersion ($15,000); GCST 1970 won the Minnesota Environmental Initiative Award; she was awarded the Edina HomeTown Hero award; she was awarded funding from the Minnesota Humanities Center Legacy Grant to take 27 historically overlooked and excluded middle and high school students on a 5-day overnight camping experience; she became a certified Master Naturalist; National Education Association (NEA) Foundation Envision Equity Grant ($5,000) for the Fall 2023 Grants to Educators.
  • Brian Baumgart was recently elected to serve on the Board of Directors for the local,
    non-profit,  Northern Starz Center for the Performing Arts.

Performances, Presentations, Interviews, & Readings:

  • Said Shaiye (Farah) was interviewed about his teaching, writing, and activism on WCCO/CBS.
  • Cindy Johanek gave a presentation at the IWCA annual conference in Baltimore with two colleagues from the Midwest Writing Centers Association Board about the results of their outreach initiative to 2-year colleges in the Midwest. (They aim to submit this for publication in an upcoming issue of TETYC focusing on Writing Centers.) Cindy also hosted a "Special Interest Group" for 2-year college Writing Centers at the same conference.
  • Ana Munro organized with students a winter story telling program with NHCC Environmental Club, Three Rivers Park District, and Ojibwe elder Hope Flanagan. She also participated in Climate Generation’s Three-Day Climate Justice Storytelling workshop. She created her climate story “Frog Song,” which she has performed publicly three times. This has inspired her to create a climate story share with NHCC students and Master Naturalists, which will be showcased at the Eastman Nature Center on February 24th, 2024. Ana presented GCST 1970 program and her multi-campus grant collaboration with Bemidji State University at the Minnesota Association for Environmental Education at Eagle Bluff Outdoor Learning Center, and also at the National Place Based Learning Conference in Grand Forks, MI. She additionally took three students from her GCST 1970/2970 course to the International Association for Experiential Education, where they presented twice and screened their documentary film.                                                                                                                                 
  • Brian Baumgart participated in several poetry readings, including Brookside Reading Series (book release for Lynette Reini-Grandell’s memoir, Wild Things), Poets & Pints (Teachers’ Edition, April), and Midstream Reading Series (August). He also moderated a panel of queer artists, professionals, and organizers at White Bear Center for the Arts, as part of Northern Starz Center for Performing Arts educational series leading up to their young actors’ performances of The Laramie Project.

NHCC Librarian Completes 1,014 Cycling Miles in One Year
Congratulations to NHCC Librarian, Craig Larson for completing 1014 cycling miles in one year! He will add this medal to the others he has received for meeting and exceeding the 1000 Miles a Year goal!! Way to go, Craig!

a photo of Craig and his bike


Employees Recognized for Outstanding Work at the Minnesota State 2023 Finance Conference
Exciting news! Kristen Harinen, NHCC’s Interim Director of Finance Management, was recognized with an Outstanding Service Award on December 6th during the 2023 Minnesota State Finance Conference. This award recognizes individuals and/or teams that provide outstanding campus service to students, faculty, and staff while focusing on improvements in business practices, financial management, internal controls, and data integrity. Congratulations, Kristen!

photo of Kristen Harinen









An Autumn Filled With Marathon Achievements
NHCC Academic Advising staff, Anong Thor has been busy this fall running marathons! She has run four marathons and one half marathon since October! The photo below is from the Halloween Half Marathon, where she dressed up as Harley Quinn! Go, Anong!

Anong on Halloween

That's a wrap on faculty and staff accomplishments for this year. We can't wait to see what you all achieve in 2024! 

Faculty & Staff Accomplishments --
From the Archives (October 2023)

In this issue, we highlighted the accomplishments of Mark Larson, Eugene Gazelka, Brittany Kiser, Tamara Mans, Marina Haworth, Said Shaiye, and more! 

a photo of Mark Larson meeting students & teaching about Aikido

A Summer Well Spent - Sharing Aikido With The World

To say Mark Larson Shihan [the highest title awarded to an instructor in aikido from the Aikikai World Headquarters, Tokyo, Japan—equivalent to a PhD in academia] had a busy summer 2023 would be an understatement. He was in five countries on four continents over a period of just 9 weeks and four days between June 11 and August 17, delivering volunteer workshops, seminars, and lectures on Language and Aikido—a traditional Japanese martial art.

Find the full story here

Avalon Anthology

English faculty member has writing published in the Avalon Anthology

On September 14th, English faculty, Eugene Gazelka had poetry published in the Avalon Anthology! An announcement about Gene’s feature in Avalon Anthology can be found here
(the link seems to work best using mobile data) and an Instagram introduction can be found here. Congratulations to you, Gene! 

WIEL Center externship

NHCC Representation at the 2023 Educator Externship

Faculty and staff from North Hennepin Community college joined teachers from area high schools to the Minneapolis Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 Educator Externship last July 31st to August 3rd. Representatives from NHCC met with business leaders in Business, Information Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing, Human Services and Healthcare.  Educators toured two companies each day and discussed employers’ skill-set needs during the tours.  It was a great opportunity for staff and faculty to meet with industry leaders to build connections! 

Brittany Kiser and her watercolor painting

The Painting Returns to the Suite

NHCC alumni and Executive Assistant within the Foundation and Marketing & Communications departments, Brittany Kiser posed next to her watercolor, painting titled, "Everlasting." In 2008, Brittany took Lance Kiland's Illustration class and painted this piece. Later that spring, she was notified that the college wanted to purchase it for their permanent art collection. In the past four years, while switching out paint colors and doing a wall renovation, art work was temporarily removed in the ES Admin Suite. But Brittany's painting was recently put back on display!
We love to see it! 

Good News from Biology faculty, Dr. Tamara Mans 

Dr. Tamara Mans, biology faculty, has some publications in the works or already published. One publication is for her work with the Genomics Education Partnership (cited below).

Croonquist P, Falkenberg V, Minkovsky N, Sawa A, Skerritt M, Sustacek MK, Diotti R, Aragon AD, Mans T, Sherr GL, Ward C, Hall-Woods M, Goodman AL, Reed LK, Lopatto D. (2023). The Genomics Education Partnership: First Findings on Genomics Research in Community Colleges. SPUR, 6(3):17-2 (doi: 10.18833/spur/6/3/1)

Additionally, she has an article in CourseSource! that was just accepted for publication. The article, co-authored with Betsy Martinez-Vaz from Hamline University, is about using teaching tools and strategies for student research collaboration across institutions (cited below).

Martínez-Vaz BM, Mans TL, Callahan KP, Peterson CN, and Bell E. (2023) Fostering Student to Student Collaboration Across Institutions in a Protein Centric CURE. CourseSource (in press)

Finally, Dr. Mans is also writing a chapter for a forthcoming ACS e-book by Betsy Martinez-Vaz and Ellis Bell. Dr. Mans’s contribution is about teaching with CUREs (Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience), and is co-authored with Dawn Marin at Gaston Community College. It centers on using CUREs in the community college setting.

photo of NHCC faculty, Marina Haworth









NHCC Art faculty, Marina Haworth becomes Dr. Haworth next month 

In August, NHCC art faculty, Marina Haworth successfully defended her PhD dissertation
(via zoom): Desiring Athletes: The Meaning of Athletic Imagery on Red-Figure Athenian Symposium Pottery for a doctorate in Classical Archaeology, from Harvard University Classics Department.

The degree will be official in November, and then she will officially be Dr. Haworth! Congratulations! 

NHCC English faculty featured on WCCO

Said Shaiye is a new adjunct faculty at NHCC in the English department. To help introduce him to everyone at NHCC, he would like to share some recent news. "I was interviewed in August by WCCO about my approach to teaching creative writing with neurodivergent students in mind. I’m ND myself (Autistic + ADHD) and didn’t get a diagnosis till much later in life (2 years ago lol)."

View his interview here and his diagnosis journey essay here

Creative Writing professor Kelly Lundquist









NHCC English faculty receives an Artist Learning Grant and has poetry published

In August, NHCC English Instructor and Director of Creative Writing, Kelly Lundquist was awarded an Artist Learning Grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board and McKnight Foundation, and in September she had a poem published in Whale Road Review, a literary magazine out of San Diego! Here is the link to the poem. 

Thank you to the faculty and staff who shared their recent accomplishments with us! 


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