Student Success: Paramedic Degree Offers New Opportunities

September 2, 2015

Firefighter and EMT Austin Groessner is one of the first students in a new associate degree-paramedic program offered jointly by NMC and Munson Regional EMS.A classroom may not seem like the natural habitat for a self-professed “adrenaline junkie” like Austin Groesser, but he’ll be in one this fall.

The firefighter and EMT is one of the first students in a new associate degree-paramedic program offered jointly by NMC and Munson Regional EMS. This semester he’s taking English, biology, and psychology while continuing to accrue work experience as an EMT. Once Groesser has two years of EMT experience, he’ll be eligible to enroll in Munson’s paramedic program. NMC will accept the coursework he completes in that program as transfer credit. And by September 2017, Groesser expects to earn both his associate’s degree and his paramedic license.

“If I’m going to spend the time doing it, I’d much rather have a paper degree plus my license,” said the 2013 graduate of Traverse City West High School.

Groesser, 19, said the versatility of the degree attracts him. His career goal is to be a full-time firefighter, but departments want to hire individuals who can double as paramedics.

“Fire medics are the future,” he said, adding that he’s drawn to both the adrenaline rush of the job and the potential to do good.

“It’s a really powerful job. You can save lives,” he said.

Daryl Case, manager of Regional EMS Education for Munson, said the degree is important in the context of a career lifetime.

“Being a paramedic is a young person’s game,” Case said.  “They look to move up the line to management, education.”

Rudy Rakan is completing the program in the opposite direction. He already has two years of EMT experience working for Munson and two different ground agencies, so he began the paramedic portion of the program in July. Also 19 and a Traverse City West High School graduate, Rakan expects to complete that in fall of 2016 and begin his NMC coursework in spring 2017.

“When I found out they were offering the associate’s degree, I was excited because as a health care industry everything is pushing toward more education,” he said.

Students could also flow to other NMC programs like nursing.

“The student is the one who gains,” said Laura Schmidt, NMC’s director of nursing.

NMC will also provide assessment testing for incoming students.

Success Story: NMC food pantry opens next week

October 25, 2017

Photo of food pantry volunteers and donationsA new food pantry is set to open on campus next week, a local step toward addressing the food insecurity that college students face nationwide.

The NMC Food Pantry operates out of the basement of the Osterlin Building and is available to all active students starting Nov. 1, said Paul Kolak, an NMC counselor and member of the pantry steering committee.

Students won’t have to physically access the shelves, however. Instead, they’ll fill out an online form stating their household size and needs. Student volunteers will fulfill the orders anonymously, and recipients will be notified when their order is ready for pickup — hoped-for turnaround is 24 hours — at the Student Success Center, also in the Osterlin Building.

“We’re just trying to be really discreet with it,” Kolak said, adding that the pantry will aim to feed people for about three days.

“We’re not seeking to be a grocery store. This is a supplement,” he said.

In August, a study released by the Urban Institute reported that 13 percent of community college students were “food insecure” in 2015. Food insecurity is defined as reduced quality of diet and access to nutrition.

In a typical NMC class of 40, that 13 percent translates to five students. Consequently the NMC Food Pantry has dubbed all food drives the Minus Five project. The first was held Oct. 10 with faculty and staff donating during the annual Professional Development Day.

Food pantry donationsThe pantry will also be supplied by other sources, including the NMC Foundation, the Northwest Food Coalition, which supports several dozen regional pantries, and a Grand Rapids-area organization called Feeding America. Besides non-perishable food items it will also stock health and hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

NMC business students have conducted a food drive as an experiential learning project for the last five fall semesters, and employees have donated food at the annual college holiday party. Now, both those efforts will help keep dignity and convenience right on campus.

“The closer the food pantry is, the better utilized it is,” Kolak said. “It’s an issue of pride, and of transportation in some cases.”

Success Story: Equalizing opportunities in the cockpit

September 27, 2017

NMC aviation student Kate HauchNMC Aviation, already celebrating its 50th anniversary, notched another notable accomplishment this fall – the largest number of new female students ever.

The six women, from Michigan to Indiana to Alaska, more than double Aviation’s total female enrollment. They took various paths to the Aero Park campus – from a sight-unseen enrollment after a relative’s recommendation to a cold-hard calculation of cost to value. But after only a few weeks of class, they share a sentiment of satisfaction with the small, welcoming program that gets students into the pilot’s seat ASAP.

“It was amazing. The second week of school we were up in the air,” said Kate Hauch, 29 (above), the Alaskan who enrolled upon the recommendation of her brother-in-law, a former student. She never set foot on campus until she arrived from Juneau a couple days before classes, but has felt welcomed.

“You’re a new student, you don’t know how to fly, let’s learn,” is the attitude she found.

“Being able to fly the first week of school at NMC really made a big difference,” agreed Regan Lezotte, 18, of Howell. She had wanted to go to Western Michigan University and spent months agonizing over her choice. A cost analysis showing she’d save six figures by attending NMC tipped the scales.

“There are some smaller houses that I could buy with this money I’d be saving,” Lezotte said.

At Western she wouldn’t have been flying until summer 2018, and would have been among 800-900 students instead of 50.

“It’s more intimate. My instructor knows me, he knows my name,” said Lezotte, whose goal is to fly in corporate aviation. She’s also already found an internship for next semester, working in the Airport Operations and management offices at Cherry Capital Airport.

Hauch plans to return to Alaska and work in either the aerial survey industry or flying medical evacuation flights. Meanwhile, the Saginaw native is enjoying the warmer weather and the local scenery, like her “gorgeous” first flight up the Leelanau peninsula.

“I love the northern area,” she said.

NMC Aviation will celebrate its first half-century with a symposium and gala dinner at the Grand Traverse Resort Thursday. More details are available at

Success Story: Commitment Scholars Are Making A Difference

September 30, 2015

Stephine DeerenStephine Deeren doesn’t just go to work at Addiction Treatment Services. She fulfills her calling.

Her job as a detox care coordinator can be stressful, but Deeren, a 2013 NMC graduate, says that it’s worth it for the chance to help clients individually as well as to change community stigmas about substance abuse.

“It’s really rewarding in that you’re really making a difference,” she said.

What goes around, comes around. Back in high school, Deeren, now 26, was selected as an NMC Commitment Scholar. Since 1993, NMC has offered full-tuition Commitment Scholarships to promising first-generation college students who might not have the means to attend otherwise. The goal: to make a difference in their lives.

The class of 2019 will be inducted next week. Consisting of 113 students from schools throughout the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, it’s the largest Commitment class ever.

It’s a pivotal moment for those students, said Deeren. Her career path began with an Introduction to Psychology class at NMC. She’s now pursuing her bachelor’s degree through Grand Valley State University at NMC’s University Center, and she eventually plans to get her master’s in social work.

“That’s where I found out what I wanted to do, was my first two years at NMC,” she said. “It really allowed me to have that self-discovery that I needed.”

Like Deeren, each student entering Commitment next week will have a chance for a full-tuition scholarship by meeting graduation and grade point requirements. For students outside Grand Traverse County, the value is up to $25,000. Commitment Scholarships are funded through the NMC Foundation and are a priority area for the college.

More than 1,000 students have gone through Commitment, with 91 percent completing the requirements.

Emily Sklodowske

Emily Sklodowske is another alumna.

“It was so significant. It was a huge turning point for me,” said the 2007 graduate of Benzie Central High School.

Sklodowske decided to try going away to school first. But after a year at Ferris, she returned to NMC where her Commitment scholarship was still available.

After a year here, Sklodowske was approved to use remaining scholarship funds on a study abroad trip to Italy. That hooked her on international travel and set the course for her career path.

“I knew, after Italy, that I had to go back. I had to keep doing that,” she said.

She now works at Passageways Travel in Traverse City and is planning a trip to Costa Rica in December. Her advice to incoming Commitment scholars? Do everything they can to maximize the opportunity.

“ I would go right straight to NMC after high school, if I could go back and change that,” she said, citing the “top-notch” faculty, classes and experiences she found on campus. “This is something you need to take advantage of.”

Read more about or donate to the Commitment Scholarship Program »

Success Story: Dennos To Debut New Galleries As It Turns Quarter-Century Mark

September 15, 2015

Record donation makes expansion possible

Diana and Richard MilockIt was time for something big, Diana and Richard Milock decided.

NMC today announced the largest single gift by living donors in college history, a $2 million gift to expand the Dennos Museum Center. That gift also happens to be the largest ever for the Milocks, stalwart cultural philanthropists whose touch is evident everywhere in northwest Michigan, from Milliken Auditorium to the Bijou Theatre to the YMCA.

“We saw this as an opportunity to have a major impact on a community resource that we think is really important to the life of Traverse City. We’re really just so excited to be able to do this,” Diana Milock said.

Architectural rendering of the Dennos Museum Center additionThe 9,000-square-foot expansion will house two new galleries intended to be named, respectively, the Gene Jenneman Permanent Collection Gallery and the Diana and Richard Milock Sculpture Gallery.  The former honors the museum’s founding director. Under Jenneman’s quarter century of leadership the Dennos has built a strong permanent collection of works, but most sit in storage.

Architectural rendering of the Dennos Museum Center addition“We have wonderful works of art and there just isn’t room to show them,” Diana Milock said.

Art lovers and collectors themselves, the Milocks have supported both the Dennos and NMC’s Great Lakes Culinary Institute for more than a decade.  Diana Milock has a special affinity for sculpture, which will be evident in the expansion. Windows lining one wall of the expansion will connect the new sculpture gallery to existing outdoor sculptures that surround the museum.

Architectural rendering of the Dennos Museum Center addition“I love outdoor sculpture. If we have access from the interior to observe the exterior, it’s a natural to fill that in,” she said.

The donation will also fund loading dock and storage improvements and a new classroom space.

“This gift from the Milocks speaks strongly to the support that Northwestern Michigan College has earned from this community and our shared desire to strengthen NMC’s role as a leader in providing cultural opportunities,” said NMC President Timothy J. Nelson.

Architectural rendering of the Dennos Museum Center addition“I am pleased to see this next step in the direction of the Dennos take place in our coming 25th year,” Jenneman said. “With these permanent collection galleries we will be positioned to make our art collection more accessible on an ongoing basis and to develop more defined connections to the College’s academic programs.”

Preliminary architectural drawings are complete. NMC hopes to bid the project in early 2016, the museum’s 25th anniversary year, and break ground later in the year.