Mitchell Technical College celebrated those who light the path for student success at the annual Donor Appreciation Reception held Thursday evening.
“We gather under the glow of inspiration to celebrate those who have dedicated their lives to lighting the path for the leaders of tomorrow. They realize that the greatest gift they can give is to tap into their resources and help others create a compelling future. They are people of value who value people,” said Mike Sprang, Chairman of the MTC Foundation. “Tonight, we will shine a spotlight on those who have become beacons in the educational landscape, casting rays of hope and empowerment for generations to come.”
Around 100 people attended the event in the Muth Electric Commons and were treated to a smorgasbord of hors d’oeuvres and desserts prepared by the college’s own Culinary Academy of South Dakota.
Nicole (Weber) Sandoval and Melissa Weber, Individual Donor Award
John Weber joined the Mitchell Tech faculty at its founding in 1968 and served 30 years as an instructor and, later, as department head, of what is now the Culinary Academy of South Dakota. He continued to work in the program until his passing in 1998. Wanting a new start, high school teacher Diane Schumacher enrolled in the Medical Lab Tech program at Mitchell Tech. A year later, she met and married John Weber. Throughout their life together, John and Diane were deeply involved in the Mitchell Tech community, strongly committed to the school’s educational mission, and enriched by the friendships they built there. Following their mother’s passing in 2014, Nicole (Weber) Sandoval and Melissa Weber established an endowed fund in their parents’ honor, providing two scholarships annually: one for a Culinary student, and another for a non-traditional student. This year, the sisters pledged to increase the number of available scholarships with increased funding.
Gene Haas Foundation, Corporate Donor Award
The Gene Haas Foundation’s primary goal is to build skills in the manufacturing industry through scholarships to students pursuing careers in the industry. The Gene Haas Foundation has awarded Mitchell Tech $82,500 in grants to support scholarships for Welding and Manufacturing Technology students since 2017, including $15,000 this year.
Xcel Energy, Legacy Donor Award
Xcel Energy has supported Mitchell Tech students with scholarships for more than 20 years. Their legacy is not simply in the scholarships granted, the programs initiated, however – it is the belief that, together, we can shape a better and brighter future.
MTC’s Power Line Construction and Maintenance and Electrical Utilities and Substation Technology, Programs of the Year
Nick Bakhtiari, Director of Foundation Relations, recognized Mitchell Tech’s Power Line Construction and Maintenance and Electrical Utilities and Substation Technology faculty, who according to an estimate by the S.D. Rural Electric Association have taught an estimated 80 percent of the power technicians currently working in the state.
Faculty in the programs include:
- Power Line Construction and Maintenance: Program Director Mike Puetz, Tom Osborne, Nicole Grosz, Michael Plooster
- Electrical Utilities and Substation Technology: Program Director Jerry Ehlke
“Through their passion and knowledge, these individuals teach students how to, quite literally, light the path to success,” Bakhtiari said.
Graduates of Mitchell Tech’s one-year Power Line Construction and Maintenance program have the option to return for a second year, studying either Electrical Utilities and Substation Technology, Natural Gas Technology, Heating and Cooling Technology or Geospatial Technologies, earning diplomas in both programs, as well as an associate degree in Utilities Technology.
“The journey to success can be challenging,” Bakhtiari said, referencing the ever-changing environmental conditions and challenging physical demands under which students must learn and the students that graduate from these programs have emerged as guiding lights, illuminating the way for countless individuals to discover their strengths, overcome obstacles, and reach heights they may have never imagined.”
Foundation Board Members
- Chairman Mike Sprang, TS-TM
- Vice-Chair Trent Dowling, Dan Foss Trucking
- Treasurer Terry Sabers, retired, Muth Electric
- Nicole Gerlach, Avera Brady
- Stacy Giblin, Nedved Media
- Cagney Effling
- Jay Spaans, Douglas Electric Cooperative
- Mike Pogany, Black Hills Energy
- Devon Russell, Mitchell Tech Faculty Representative