graphic design for the Sun Post and NHCC's column

The success of our students is a top priority for North Hennepin Community College. Now more than ever, students are relying on resources outside the classroom to help them stay on track academically and support their personal wellbeing. Ensuring these spaces are inviting and offer the space needed to accommodate students is an important part of encouraging students to utilize the resources offered.

For example, The Gerry Heurth Diversity Center located in the college’s campus center, is a center for students of diverse backgrounds to gather in community with their peers. The center includes two spaces, the general space and an LGBTQ+ Sanctuary space. The LGBTQ+ Sanctuary space is a separate “Brave” space dedicated to students who identify within the LGBTQ+ community or are active allies of the LGBTQ+ community. The DEI Department also offers student programming including socials and conversations on race and equity which are great opportunities for students to engage in dialogue and learn from each other.

Since the beginning of the academic year, there have been more than 1,000 student visits to the center, including Takenya Chandler, who says, “My experience in the Gerry Huerth Diversity Center and/or the LGBTQ+ Sanctuary space has been amazing. I love coming to this space because it feels like home for me.”

The Campus Center also houses more student-centered spaces initiated by student interest, including a Foot Washing Station, Reflection Room, Lactation Mother’s Room, and Veterans’ Resource Center. Student Mimi Truong is a frequent visitor to the Veterans’ Resource Center and says, “The space helps me flourish both as a student and veteran. Staff support encouraged me to become president of the Veterans Club where I was able to gather military-connected students at the VRC and embrace companionship among one another. Each day, the VRC lets me know that I am valued as a veteran student where I can study, enjoy snacks and connect.”

NHCC’s Career Services provides students a wide variety of support services, including degree and career exploration, career development planning, and internship placement. New this spring, Career Services launched “NHCC i-Prep: Internship Readiness Program,” with the goal of incentivizing students to actualize their parallel career plans. Funded by a workforce grant from the Minnesota Legislature, students who complete i-Prep receive a $200 stipend and a micro-credential to show their upskilling initiative. In addition, mentorship is provided to students through “Be Bold, Break the Mold – Students Succeed in Nontraditional Careers,” where they are paired with an industry professional to support their emerging careers in nontraditional sectors for their gender.

All these support services are contributing to student success after graduation, too. I’m happy to report that over the last five years, more than 85% of NHCC graduates have found employment in their intended and/or related career. That speaks to the passion and persistence of our students, and the dedication of our faculty and staff!

These examples illustrate why a top priority for the Minnesota State capital bonding request includes $200 million for asset preservation, and $341 million for 15 capital projects focused on improving both academic learning spaces and student service spaces. I remain hopeful that our elected representatives will recognize that investing in education benefits everyone in the state, including our students, our future workforce, and our communities.

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