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Sarah Thelen is a finish carpenter in Omaha. She got her training at North Platte Community College.
Sarah Thelen is used to having people tell her she can’t do things because she’s a woman. The criticism doesn’t break her spirit – it motivates her to push harder.
“I don’t hear the comments much from my generation – it’s older generations and usually homeowners,” said Thelen. “I don’t listen to it. It just makes me want to prove them wrong.”
Thelen, a Burwell native, is a finish carpenter for high-end homes in Omaha. She installs handrails and spiral staircases and builds custom furniture, mantles, benches and cabinets.
Rex Kemp, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration instructor, works with student, Vinh Tran, Thursday at North Platte Community College. Kemp said the demand for skilled HVACR technicians is tremendous.
It’s a small investment for such a large return.
“Students that go through this program and want a job – have a job,” said Rex Kemp, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration instructor at North Platte Community College.
Kemp teaches a rigorous 11-month course that prepare students for skilled positions installing and servicing heating and cooling systems as well as commercial refrigeration units.
Classes include elements from electrical, welding, mechanics and building and construction trades. Kemp focuses on hands-on learning and makes sure his students receive real world experience by working with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.
“He’s the best teacher I’ve ever had,” said Vinh Tran, a student originally from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam who now lives in North Platte. “He takes care of his students.”
Tran said he decided to pursue an HVACR career because of the potential to earn a lot of money.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries for HVACR technicians vary by location and the type of equipment worked on.
The Bureau reports that in 2010, those in the top 10 percent earned more than $66,930. The median salary was $42,530.
And, there’s a demand for the work.
“It’s insatiable,” said Kemp. “Nationwide there’s a shortage of HVACR technicians. A lot of it has to do with the fact that so many of the current technicians are reaching retirement age.”
Kemp said some of the more commonly recognized contractors in North Platte got their start at NPCC. They include Todd Bissell, owner of AJ Sheet Metal, Jim Schneider, owner of Knobel Refrigeration, Brian Lusk, owner of Lusk Heating and Air Conditioning and Duane Norman, owner of Norman Refrigeration.
Many of those businessmen are people Kemp turns to when trying to line up an internship, a requirement for students in the HVACR program.
“They’re always in need of skilled technicians,” Kemp said of the contractors.
Vinh Tran, a student at North Platte Community College, works on a project Thursday at the north campus. Tran is learning about heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration because of the potential that exists to earn a lot of money with a HVACR career.
Over past decade, Kemp has taught students from Scottsbluff, Sidney, Ashland, Fremont and every Nebraska town in between. One even traveled to NPCC from Texas.
“The ages vary,” Kemp said. “Some are right out of high school, and others are in their late 40s or early 50s. A lot of them have four-year degrees, but no job. Several years ago, when the economy tanked, there were quite a few business people looking for other careers. Many came to me.”
Mid-Plains Community College is one of five colleges in Nebraska that offers a HVACR program. It’s the only one west of Kearney.
“We’ve had recommendations from industry officials,” Kemp said. “A smaller class size is one of the big benefits to our program. I would definitely recommend a career in HVACR because of all the potential that’s out there. It’s year-round work, and it can definitely be a lifelong profession.”
Gail Knott is the new director of outreach for Mid-Plains Community College. Knott, who has been the Ogallala extended campus coordinator for the past 14 years, will begin work at North Platte Community College on Dec. 1.
Knott will oversee operations at the four MPCC extended campuses and will be based out of Room 100B in the W.W. Wood Building on the north campus of NPCC.
“I’m really excited and am looking forward to the challenge,” Knott said. “I’ve done this for a while, and it will be nice to bridge the extended campus and the main campus and take that responsibility to the next level. It’s especially exciting with Valentine going through the development and construction of getting its new campus facility. ”
According to Michael Steele, vice president of administrative services for MPCC, Knott brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the outreach director position.
College officials will begin the process of replacing the Ogallala extended campus coordinator position in the near future.
Registration is now open for winterim session classes at Mid-Plains Community College.
All are online. They are targeted at current students who want to complete a class quickly and students attending other schools who need a specific class for their degree.
Classes begin Dec. 15 and continue through Jan. 9.
BIOS 2990, “The Structures of Life,” is an overview of proteins as building blocks of life and the technology of protein discovery. It will be offered by Sara Morris, biology science instructor.
BSAD 1010, “Personal and Professional Development,” taught by Jean Condon, is a 3 credit hour class and is the equivalent of 45 classroom hours. It puts a special emphasis on relating image and social awareness to job success. It also covers on-the-job situations of problem-solving, time management, goal setting, business etiquette, listening skills, work groups and the relationship between productivity and job attitude. There will be a major focus on developing productive work ethics. This class is designed for the Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business.
BSAD 1090, “The Job Application Process,” is a 1 credit hour class that equates to 15 classroom hours. Instruction designed to provide all students with the tools and skills to design an effective job search campaign. Topics will include methods of finding a job, resume preparation, development of customized application letters, interview techniques and preparation of follow-up communications. The student will utilize word processing skills. The class is taught by Berva Arensdorf.
BSAD 2070, “Risk Management for Events and Sports,” is a 3 credit hour class. Students will learn to recognize potential risks in special and sporting events and to prioritize those risks for action and minimization. Practical strategies to manage risks of people, property and reputation are stressed. Students will also learn how to comply with legal regulations such as permitting, insurance, vendor contracts, federal laws, state laws and local laws as they pertain to events. Fire codes, handicap compliance and security considerations when dealing with minors are also examined. Marcus Garstecki is the instructor.
PHED 1810, “Drugs and Sports,” is a 2 credit hour class and the equivalent of 30 classroom hours. The course is as an introduction to the roles that drugs play in modern day sports. The class will cover performance enhancing drugs, as well as the effects of prescription drugs, narcotics, over-the-counter drugs, alcohol, tobacco and nutritional supplements used to enhance an athlete’s performance. The class will study the science of each classification of drug, all social and ethical issues that arise with the topic of drugs and sports and cover the testing agencies, methods and reporting of drug use in sports. The instructor is Jon Olsen.
POLS 1000, “American Government and Politics,” is a 3 credit hour class that examines the organization and operation of the U.S. government. It includes a brief survey of historical foundations along with a strong emphasis on current political events and public policy. The class will be taught by Doug Clouatre.
SOCI 1530, “Introduction to Sociology,” is worth 3 credit hours. It’s an analysis of society, including the development of the social system, group formations and types of social organizations and the basic elements affecting those classifications. Allen Settles is the instructor.
ARTS 1210 “Art Appreciation” is a 3 credit hour class. It’s an overview of the language, process and history of the visual arts and artists of both past and contemporary society. The class is designed for non-art majors.
For more information or to register, call (308) 535-3774 in North Platte or (308) 345-8102 in McCook.
With the deadline less than three weeks away for the “new and improved” business Hormel Entrepreneurship Competition, contest organizers are encouraging business owners of all ages to solidify their business dreams by taking the first step to fill out the simple application form.
Nebraska Distance Learning Association members joined Gov. Dave Heineman for a proclamation signing, during which Nov. 10-14 was declared Nebraska Distance Learning Week. They were Gordon Roethemeyer, Mary Lister, Laura Huntimer, Mike Irwin, Al Steckelberg, Heineman and Linda Dickeson.
Gov. Dave Heineman has proclaimed Nov. 10-14 as Nebraska Distance Learning Week. In doing so, he has drawn attention to a progressive form of education, gaining speed around the state because of its success rate, accessibility, flexibility and cost-effectiveness.
The benefits are nothing new to Mid-Plains Community College. Officials there have been touting the advantages of distance learning for years.
“Distance learning has been around in some form or another since the mid ’90s,” said Mary Lister, area Blackboard coordinator. “Basically, it’s an Internet connection between two or more locations.”
At one of the sites, there is an instructor leading the course. That teacher can be seen and heard by students in other classrooms, sometimes hundreds of miles away, thanks to video chat capabilities.
“It used to be we could only offer distance learning in up to three locations,” Lister said. “Now, we can provide services to eight or more thanks to the type of connection we use and the Internet speed we have.”
Abby Kurtzer, of Haxtun, Colo., takes part in a distance learning class Monday at North Platte Community College. This week is Nebraska Distance Learning Week.
MPCC offered 426 distance learning courses and served more than 3,100 students during the 2013-14 school year. Of those courses, 390 were dual credit, meaning high school students had the opportunity to take them and earn both high school and college credits simultaneously.
“Our youngest daughter graduated from high school with 19 credit hours,” Lister said. “Because she played volleyball, having some of the classes out of the way helped lighten her load during sports season.”
Lister estimated that about 95 percent of the dual credit courses taken via distance learning will transfer to other colleges and universities. They include: college algebra, art appreciation, critical thinking, expository writing and public speaking.
The types of students that take distance learning courses following high school graduation vary. Many are nursing hopefuls from rural areas.
“We have one student right now who is a stay-at-home dad with six kids –the oldest of which is in second grade,” said Lister. “He also has a set of twins and a set of triplets. When they lay down for naps, that’s when he jumps online and works on assignments.”
According to Lister, MPCC can offer distance learning almost anywhere in Nebraska.
“We’ve been to Shelton High School, Pleasanton High School and Southern Valley Schools at Oxford,” Lister said. “We take math classes to Ovid, Colo. If there’s a student out there that needs a class – we’ll make an effort to make it available to them.”
So what’s next for distance learning? It appears the sky is the limit.
“It’s hard to say because technology is ever-changing,” Lister said. “One thing I do know is that there’s no end to distance learning. It’s definitely here to stay.”
Tasia Stumpf, of Ogallala, and her mother-in-law, Lisa Behrends, of Grant, practice nursing skills on a mannequin Friday at the North Platte Community College Health and Science Center. Both were named MPCC Student Nurses of the Month for October.
There’s no easy way to become a registered nurse. It takes hard work, patience and dedication – something Lisa Behrends, of Grant, and Tasia Stumpf, of Ogallala, have learned firsthand.
Unlike many students, however, Behrends and Stumpf had a support system in place long before they signed up for their first classes. That’s because for them nursing school is a family affair.
“Tasia is my daughter-in-law,” said Behrends. “She married my son, Jesse, so I call and ask her nursing questions all the time.”
Stumpf is a year ahead of Behrends with her studies. She started her prerequisites in the fall of 2008, and enrolled in the RN program at Mid-Plains Community College last year. Behrends began her prerequisites in 2010 and entered the RN program at MPCC this year.
They didn’t decide to take the course together, it’s just something that happened. Both have histories in the medical profession.
“I’ve been working as a certified nursing assistant and medical aid at a nursing home in Grant and at the Grant Medical Clinic,” Behrends said. “Right now, I fill in as needed, but am primarily focused on school.”
Stumpf has been employed at the Ogallala Community Hospital since she was 18. Her initial intentions weren’t to become a nurse.
“I wanted to be a cop, but had a son when I was 19,” said Stumpf. “My life took a different path. I started at the hospital doing dietary work, then moved on to medical records, then to the front desk, and now I fill in as a medical assistant as needed. I will be full-time after I finish school.”
Both women took advantage of the online prerequisite classes MPCC offers as well as MPCC’s extended campus in Ogallala.
Now that they are in the RN program, Stumpf drives to North Platte for classes three days a week, and Behrends is on the road four days a week.
“It’s really not that far,” Stumpf said. “If it weren’t for MPCC, my husband and I would’ve had to have moved so I could go to nursing school. That’s hard to do when you have three kids.”
As it is, Stumpf will graduate in May of 2015, and Behrends will graduate in May of 2016. Both want to end up in rural hospitals.
“I can’t wait to work with people again,” said Behrends. “That’s what I miss about going to school – the constant interaction with patients.”
Stumpf loves the personal aspect to nursing as well.
“I just like taking care of people and helping them feel better,” Stumpf said. “I’m looking forward to being done, but am really enjoying my time at MPCC, too. The teachers are excellent and so is the curriculum. It’s tough, but I know I’ll be prepared for anything after I graduate.”
Classes at Mid-Plains Community College campus locations are set to begin Aug. 25, but there is still time to register for the Fall 2014 term. Whether you are interested in updating your computer skills, improving your golf game, or taking the classes you need for your associate’s degree, MPCC is the place that can make it happen.
Fall Term classes will begin on Monday, Aug. 25, at all MPCC locations.
It should be noted that daytime classes at the main campuses in McCook and North Platte will not take place on Aug. 25 due to New Student Orientation, however evening classes that begin at 5 p.m. or later will take place as scheduled.
Twenty-four students in the Mid-Plains Community College Licensed Practical Nursing program had their pinning ceremony Thursday at North Platte Community College. Graduates include Hannah Magill of Broken Bow; Ellie Edson, Kayla Pethoud and Karri Stapp of Cozad; Anna McDaniel of Crookston; April Hickman of Dunning; Ashley Kautz of Grant; Rhea Hernandez, Theresa Rydalch and Marie Sahm of McCook; Becky Carson-Fitzgerald, Kayla Dotson, Melissa Gore, Ronda Haumann, Paula Konruff, Amber Simcox, Kassandra Stahl, Kristi Vierya and Chelsea Worth of North Platte; Brandy McConnell of Sutherland; Pacanda Carfield of Trenton; and Sarah Arnold, Holly Hockenbary and Anna Maas of Valentine.
Twenty-four students in the Mid-Plains Community College Licensed Practical Nursing program will have their informal pinning ceremony at 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 31, in the McDonald-Belton Theater on North Platte Community College’s South Campus.
David Pedersen, attorney for Mid-Plains Community College, administers the Oath of Office to Jo Etta Brown of Brule after she was selected as the MPCC Board of Governor’s District 2 representative Wednesday evening. Brown will complete the term of former board member David Lynch.
The following is a list of Mid-Plains Community College full-time students (from all campus locations) who completed 12 or more credit hours in college-level courses and maintained an overall 3.9 or greater (on a 4.0 scale) grade point average (GPA), which qualifies them for the President’s List for the Spring 2014 Term.
The following is a list of Mid-Plains Community College full-time students (all campus locations) who completed 12 or more credit hours in college-level courses and maintained an overall 3.5– 3.89 (on a 4.0 scale) grade point average (GPA), which qualifies them for the Dean’s List for the Spring 2014 Term.
The Mid-Plains Community College Rodeo Club officially became full-fledged college athletic team after a vote by the MPCC Board of Governors at their April meeting.
In memory of Dundy County residents Jim and Marjorie Reisher, the family has established a scholarship fund at Mid-Plains Community College designed to benefit current or prior residents of Dundy County or current/former students in the Dundy County-Stratton school system.
Mid-Plains Community College Area Technology Specialists Farra Morgan and Matthew Schranz have been working in recent weeks to upgrade distance learning classrooms at the college with digital technology, thanks in part to an $118,000 funding partnership with the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.