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Rolando García, Guest Columnist Feb 27, 2024

As I reflect on Black History Month, I am inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” This sentiment is captured in North Hennepin Community College’s mission of engaging students and changing lives. More importantly, I am fortunate to see employees deliver on our mission daily.

We are committed to educating our students through innovative academic and co-curricular learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom, so students can be successful in their chosen careers and communities. For example, I’m teaching a new honors course this semester, Servant Leadership: A Presidential Perspective, where students learn how to cultivate empathy, empower others, and foster a collaborative and inclusive environment. It’s been incredibly inspiring to see how students are supporting and believing in each other, instilling the confidence to seek and accept leadership opportunities on campus.

Student Hozea Kariuki said the course has given her the tools to become a better leader. “The seminar has helped me become more aware of how I lead and consciously implement the characteristics of what a servant leader should be. I love hearing other students’ take on the material we learn in the class and how they can apply it to their lives. It helps to listen to their views on servant leadership and allows all students to gain a new perspective on how servant leadership looks in different fields.”

As we approach the 2024 legislative session, 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.

For North Hennepin Community College and all the colleges and universities of Minnesota State, the stakes are high. The outcome of the 2024 session will directly impact the NHCC community – where our staff works to serve student needs, where our faculty teach, and where our students learn.

The top priority of our 2024 capital request is $200 million for asset preservation that would fund more than 100 campus projects across the state and address the most basic needs of our colleges and universities for updated roofs, windows, exterior walls, and mechanical and utility systems.

Since 2012, Minnesota State has requested more than $1 billion to maintain and preserve the state’s campus buildings but has received $223.5 million. Urgent asset preservation needs that are not met by state funding often must be met by funds intended for campus operations. The result of this shift is a reduced capacity to meet student academic needs and state workforce needs at all Minnesota State campuses. Minnesota State’s capital request would represent a critical investment in North Hennepin Community College and the long-term vitality of our economy.

I invited Azah Nde, who serves as legislative coordinator on the NHCC Student Senate, to share her thoughts. “Funding our campus means that we will be able to walk into an environment that supports our desire to earn a brighter future,” she said. “As a student, being around good infrastructure allows us to focus on learning and retention. The buildings we walk into determine our commitment to show up and remain faithful to proudly represent our campus and community.”

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