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Rolando García

Happy New Year from all of us at North Hennepin Community College!

I think we can all agree last year was challenging. However, we also learned valuable lessons, including that grace, love, and care are privileges that should be afforded to all. Second, our success as a community, nation, and world is intertwined with our most vulnerable and oppressed populations. Finally, that strength, knowledge, and wisdom to overcome hardship is a result of community unity and support.

As we transition to spring semester, know that we are committed to ensuring the safety of our campus community and the continued success of our students. As vaccine distribution gets underway, I remain hopeful that 2021 brings health, happiness, and new opportunities to our communities. Here’s a few of those opportunities in motion.

You may have heard about one of our nursing alumna recently in the news, Jeanette Rupert, who is fighting the pandemic at her full-time job in the intensive care unit at Methodist Hospital and volunteering at George Floyd Square. If you know Jeanette, her tireless commitment to serving others comes as no surprise. She came to NHCC as a working mother of four, diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, to pursue a nursing degree. She graduated with highest honors and spoke at commencement, then graduated Summa Cum Laude from Metropolitan State University, and is now working on the front lines.

“NHCC helped me see my potential, and what some would label as a disability, as in fact my superpower,” she said. “I don’t feel that I’m doing anything great, extravagant, or worth attention, but if anything that I do can help change a life or bring about positive change, then it is worth it.”

Last month, we also appointed two ‘new’ academic deans. Anthony Miller, dean of Liberal Arts and Academic Foundations, served as an interim dean for the past two years and has taught English since 2010. Kathy Hendrickson, dean of Fine Arts, Languages, and Communication, served as an interim dean for the past year and has taught theatre since 2015. When asked what makes them hopeful for spring and beyond, Miller said he’s inspired by the teaching innovations launched since COVID-19:

“I am hopeful that this resilience, creativity and engagement will persist as we emerge from the remote environment and that the strength our students have shown in overcoming so many obstacles to pursue their goals will be recognized, rewarded, and help give them confidence as they continue their education.”

Hendrickson said she’s grateful the college has been able to pivot to rethink and restructure classes and programs based on what students need today. One example of this is the Stages of Equity festival, a three-day event highlighting art and performance by, for, and about marginalized populations within the NHCC community, Brooklyn Park and beyond. “We are in a very hopeful, grateful and resolute place,” Miller said.

A special thank you to Jeanette, Anthony and Kathy for sharing their stories of inspiration, and fulfilling our mission of changing lives!

Rolando García is president of North Hennepin Community College.

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