Celebrating our graduates, investing in our future

BY BARBARA MCDONALD

GUEST COLUMNIST

Graduation is just around the corner, my favorite day of the year! Like a proud parent, I get the pleasure of boasting about our students who

Barbara McDonald
Barbara McDonald

will cross the stage in just a few weeks. We could fill this entire newspaper with great headlines on every graduate, but I have to limit myself to just a few in this column.
These remarkable students represent our future workforce and communities. Even more than that, they are the faces behind Minnesota’s investment – your investment – in publicly funded higher education. You, too, share in our pride for contributing to their education at North Hennepin Community College: everyone benefits. Without public support for higher education, none of this would be possible.
Take Afeez Sodeinde, a biology major at North Hennepin, who is also dually-enrolled in our Bemidji State University Biology Baccalaureate Partnership Program. He will graduate from NHCC this spring and continue to complete his bachelor’s degree right here on campus. He is well on his way to becoming a world-class scientist. Upon graduation, Afeez will participate in a Summer Genomics Research Program at the Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. For this program, he will spend nine weeks doing original research, learning scientific communication, attending seminars with scientists from Harvard and MIT, and getting prepared for graduate studies.
And then there is Jeanette Rupert. A soon-to-be graduate with highest honors from our nursing program, she is also a wife and mother of four children working the night shift so she can attend classes during the day and evening. Jeanette also finds time to be involved on campus through the Student Nurses Association and as a Phi Theta Kappa honors member where she had the opportunity to spend three weeks studying Traditional Chinese Medicine in China through the International Scholars Laureate Program. Upon graduation, she will pursue work in critical care nursing. We’re thrilled she’ll be speaking on behalf of the class of 2017 at commencement.
And finally, let me tell you about Ravinder Shekhawat who is graduating with an Associate of Science degree in computer science, a field that is desperate for highly-trained individuals. Ravinder, a dean’s list honoree for three straight semesters, not only excels in his field, but also strives to help other students achieve academic success by serving as a tutor and a teaching assistant. A faculty member had this to say,“Ravinder is a gifted communicator who is able to inform, motivate and engage students in the classroom. He also understands and commands their respect.” After graduation, Ravinder will transfer to the University of Minnesota.
If you ask our faculty and staff what motivates us every day, it’s the opportunity to engage students and change lives like those of Afeez, Jeanette, and Ravinder. We are creating our future scientists, educators, health care workers and many more, to go forth as active citizens and make a difference in our communities. In order to accomplish our work however, state funding is paramount. As the Legislature considers funding decisions in the coming weeks, please consider reaching out to your representative to advocate for your community college, and thank you as always for your support.

Barbara McDonald is president of North Hennepin Community College.