Herseth Sandlin: MTI a pillar of communityProud parents, spouses and squalling children packed the Corn Palace on Friday to honor Mitchell Technical Institute’s 42nd and largest graduating class, and to hear former U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin offer the graduates congratulations and words of encouragement.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Proud parents, spouses and squalling children packed the Corn Palace on Friday to honor Mitchell Technical Institute’s 42nd and largest graduating class, and to hear former U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin offer the graduates congratulations and words of encouragement.
MTI President Greg Von Wald said the Class of 2011 has 475 graduates from 11 states. MTI graduated 405 students in 2010.
“They are ready to meet the world,” Von Wald said, “and it has been my privilege to be able to help them on their way. I offer my sincerest congratulations for a job well done.”
Von Wald told the graduates the world changed during their brief time at MTI, and the competition for jobs has increased globally.
“Those with the best skills and desire will succeed. MTI has given you those skills, but you will have to reach within yourself to succeed,” he said.
Mark Wilson, director of the state office of Career and Technical Education, in brief comments, told the grads they will be building a strong workforce for South Dakota and a strong reputation for MTI.
MTI Alumni Association board member Kelly Odens thanked the parents, families and community for their support and encouraged the graduates to “trust in your MTI education and believe in yourself.”
Herseth Sandlin declared MTI a “pillar of the community and a credit to the region and the state.”
She acknowledged the first graduates of the school’s power sports and wind technology programs and MTI’s “outstanding reputation” for placing its students.
“At least 96 percent of you are expected to find employment,” she said, “and your timing and training are perfectly suited for the circumstances,” she added, noting that the graduates are “poised to be drivers of economic development.”
She also praised MTI’s recent accreditation and its recent recognition by the Aspen Institute as one of the nation’s top 120 two-year colleges.
Herseth Sandlin told the grads they are needed to face a daunting list of world challenges that include terrorism, a stumbling economy and an energy crisis that threatens to pit sections of the country against each other. Poverty and poor rural health care are problems in South Dakota, she said, especially in some American Indian communities.
The problems run deep and wide, Herseth Sandlin said.
“There seem to be more problems than solutions, and that’s where you come in.
“So my message to you this evening is this: We need you. South Dakota needs you, your country needs you and the world needs you.”
She said the skills taught in MTI’s agriculture programs and in the newly expanded Farm and Ranch Management program are needed during a time a hungry world will be turning to America for food supplies.
She also acknowledged the school’s leadership in wind and other technologies that will be needed to “enhance our standard of living and quality of life, improve our productivity and drive our economic growth.”
She said graduates have a duty to the future of their state and nation.
“This is just the beginning of the next chapter of your lives,” she said.
Herseth Sandlin said later that she was proud to be “part of a dedicated team” that helped to procure a wind turbine for MTI at the Crow Lake wind project near White Lake. The success was due to a team effort from MTI, Basin Electric, her former staff and the Economic Development Administration.
“It was a collaboration of some really good people who said we’re going to do this and figure out how to get through any barriers that come our way. I was glad that I could play one of the many key roles that were played by many on the team. I’m very pleased these students now have on-site training like this,” she said.
Herseth Sandlin said she planned to have dinner with her brother Todd, who is a Mitchell resident, and President Von Wald after the ceremonies Friday.
“Then I’m going to spend some well-deserved time on Mother’s Day weekend with my little boy and my husband,” she said with a smile.
Spirit of MTI Awards
The 12th annual “Spirit of MTI” awards were given Friday to those students named by their instructors as the 2011 graduates who best embody the “spirit” of MTI and exemplify their chosen occupation through study, hard work, reliability, contribution to their program and future potential in their employment field.
• Accounting and Business Management, Barb Becker, White Lake;
• Agricultural Technology, Kyle Wojciechowski, Geddes;
• Architectural Design and Building Construction, Adam Brands, Edgerton, Minn.;
• Automation Controls/SCADA, Andrew Ring, Eau Claire, Wis.;
• Administrative Office Specialist, Elizabeth Schueren, Spencer;
• Computer Support Specialist, Andrew Erickson, Emery;
• Culinary Academy of South Dakota, Tanya Veldkamp, Canton;
• Electrical Construction and Maintenance, Ethan Glasford, Aberdeen;
• Heating and Cooling Technology, Cody Mitchell, Mitchell;
• Information Systems Technology, Boyd Reimnitz, Mitchell;
• Medical Assistant, Kari Nedved, Twin Brooks;
• Medical Laboratory Technology, Tori McMurtry, Wessington;
• Office Technology Specialist Jamie Couch, Orchard, Neb.;
• Power Line Construction and Maintenance, Alex Nudd, Belle Fourche;
• Power Sports Technology, Jake Puetz, Mitchell;
• Propane and Natural Gas Technologies, Laramie Baker, Hot Springs, Mont.;
• Radiation Therapy, Kayla Berry, Interior;
• Radiologic Technology, Melanie Fridley, Gann Valley;
• Satellite Communications, Eric Brown, Mitchell;
• Utilities Technology, Brian Hotchkiss, Mitchell;
• Telecommunications, Dalton Kelly-Richter, Quinn;
• Wind Turbine Technology, Samuel Sletten, Lennox.