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College of Continuing Education News

July 2010 Archives

CCE Students and Staff Recently Celebrated a New Class of Graduates at Commencement

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In May, the University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education conferred degrees on 200 students, nearly half of whom packed into Northrop Auditorium with friends and family to share the appropriately grandiose pomp and excitement of commencement. Even the stifled smiles of the shyest shone through as graduates took the ceremonial walk across the Northrop stage to receive their degrees. All of these glistening smiles were earned, and many uniquely so.

One of the special aspects of the CCE graduation ceremony is the students who comprise the College, and the unique life and educational goals that have brought them here. The CCE serves a broad array of students, from undergraduate students to adults finishing up a degree, and anything in between. While there are program names and degree buckets for classification's sake, CCE students are not what most would consider traditional, and neither are the disciplines they study.

What Lies Beneath

What Lies Beneath: Curiosity Camp Explores Secret World of Subterranean Twin Cities

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Deep beneath the bowels of the Twin Cities lurks...a mountain of shopping carts?

Well, yes. Among other things, of course, says hydrogeologist, author, and Curiosity Camp and Compleat Scholar instructor Greg Brick.

The pile of washed up shopping carts, looking for all the world like a giant's rib cage, lies in a tunnel underneath Basset Creek and is one of the more odd finds of Brick's career in speleology (the study of caves). Of course, when you spend as much time below ground as Brick has, you're bound to see some unusual things...tunnel-dwelling beavers, a subterranean community of lost goldfish, beer-swilling cockroaches. "But no Jimmy Hoffa's body...yet," he adds.

Counseling Dynamo

Counseling Dynamo

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For individuals who want to change careers or advance in their current one, but aren't sure how to accomplish it, working one-on-one with a career counselor may help them find the path to a more meaningful and satisfying lifework plan.

Individuals seeking such assistance often find themselves on the office doorstep of Janet Pelto, the College of Continuing Education's career and lifework planning specialist. Pelto, who has been with the College for 22 years, was recently honored for her work with the prestigious Jules Kerlan Outstanding Achievement Award from the Minnesota Career Development Association (MCDA).

According to the MCDA, of which Pelto is a current board of trustees member and a past president, the Kerlan award "recognizes an individual's lifetime achievement in the field of career development. Ideal candidates possess the following criteria: committed to human development and career development throughout their career; statewide or national recognition of activities; influential across any or all branches of career development; and a bridge builder across different professional organizations and/or among professional colleagues."

The Language of Learning

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"I grew up loving reading," says 2010 Inter-College Program (ICP) graduate Satty Flaherty-Echeverria. "My mother was a librarian, and instilled in me the love of reading and the arts. It was an escape for me, especially after my parents divorced when I was in junior high."

A native of Mexico's Yucatan, Flaherty-Echeverria grew up surrounded by culture. She attended a fine arts school, where she studied classical dance and later danced with a company called Jazzissimo. After her parents' divorce, she went to work to help support her mother and brothers, first as a radio show producer and writer, and eventually as a teacher.

"My first job was working on a program that promoted literature and reading for young children. [Eventually] I started a program that featured, in addition to writing and literature, an arts element. [It] showcased local music, dance groups, and artists promoting their events and exhibitions."

As much as she loved the radio, Flaherty-Echeverria knew she needed a more lucrative income. At age 17, and still a student herself, she was trained as a teacher, and began teaching art, dance, and the history of dance at a Montessori school, a job she says "was a great experience that changed my life and gave me the skills and confidence to become a teacher."

Aging Up

Aging Up: What an aging workforce means for the Minnesota economy

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Newsflash: in 2020, we'll all be 10 years older than we are right now.

It sounds like basic math and everyday common sense, but it's actually more complicated than that, says state demographer Tom Gillaspy. In truth, he says, "this is a new thing. Sure, individuals get older--but not society. It's not normal for a society to age. But we are."

And as society as a whole gets older, so does the workforce. In 1990, the peak age in the labor force was 30; in 2000, it had increased to 40. By 2007, it was 45. As the baby boomers begin to reach retirement age, and given the decrease in birth and fertility rates in this country, by 2020 we will have not only a smaller workforce, but also an older one.

So what does this mean for Minnesota's economy? What can we expect to see as our workforce simultaneously grows in age, yet shrinks in size? And what does it mean for the workers who keep the economy going?

Balancing Act

MLS student Gil deftly balances work, volunteerism, and a passion for learning

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Master of Liberal Studies student Gil Huie was recently presented with the "FIRST" Robotics Competition Outstanding Volunteer Award by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway Personal Transporter (PT) and founder of the FIRST robot competition. It's just the latest honor for the affable, self-effacing tradesman, who has also received the U of M President's Award for Outstanding Service.

But Huie's hardest fought battles and achievements haven't come in his career, however. His life has taken many twists and turns, and lately he has found himself in the fight of his life. Read on to hear the story of his remarkable life--and attitude.

It is rare, perhaps, to find a jack of all trades who is, in fact, an actual tradesman. But Master of Liberal Studies student Gil Huie is a rare individual at that. The affable machinist is equally at ease discussing the foundations of Judeo-Christianity as he is talking about working as a tool and die apprentice. And his enthusiasm for his hobbies and interests, as well as his career, is apparent.

Huie, whose mother was a member of the Fond du Lac band of Ojibwe and whose father was Chinese, says that as part of his legacy to his granddaughter, he'd like to leave his stories for her to read. "The number of Ojibwe people is getting smaller and smaller. The people before us told stories; wrote about their lives, about what it was like to be Ojibwe 100, 150 years ago. Stories of 'my life in the 1870s' and that sort of thing. I want to write down what it is like today. What it is like to be Gil Huie in the 20th century and beyond.

"What's new today will be antique when she's grown--just like what seems old, antique now was new then. But it's the same sun above and ground below us all."

Wilson Walks

Golden Gopher and Former MLB catcher Dan Wilson Earns Degree

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Excelling at the plate in major league baseball takes major league discipline. It's being self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses; knowing when to swing for the fences and when not to swing at all. Sometimes, it ends in a walk. Discipline is the same trait that can make a student successful in the classroom, and, like baseball, sometimes ends in a walk.

Dan Wilson has used discipline to excel in both environments. After a successful 14-year professional baseball career, Wilson returned to college and recently received his bachelor of science degree in applied business and IT studies through the University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education. Though he drew hundreds of walks during his time as an all-star catcher in the pros, none were as significant as the walk he took this spring at his graduation commencement ceremony.

"It was important to me that I finish my degree, and I wanted to do it at the school where I started," said Wilson. "I wanted to show my kids the importance of education, and (commencement) will be a great experience to share with my family."