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572 Alexandria Technical and Community College students graduated. We look at what their future may hold.

Alexandria Technical and Community College faculty answer graduation related questions

ATCC graduation ceremony
Trevor Gaule of Rockville, left, is congratulated by Mark Anderson of Alexandria Technical and Community College as he receives his degree in Cybersecurity, Virtualization and Networking during the college's graduation ceremony at the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria Wednesday.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA — The Alexandria Technical Community College graduating class of 2022 is now set to embark on a new adventure.

Graduation ceremonies took place Wednesday afternoon, May 11.

The Echo Press reached out to administrators and faculty to ask them some graduation-related questions.

Q: How many students will be graduating from Alexandria College this May?

A: 572 students were recognized at the Commencement Ceremony on May 11. – Eric Karlstad, Director of Student Success and Advising

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Q: How does that number compare to past years? More, less or about the same?

A: There will be slightly fewer students graduating this spring compared to last year. This is in relation to a smaller second-year student class size during the pandemic. – Eric Karlstad, Director of Student Success and Advising

Q: What are the most popular careers students are pursuing? Has that changed?

A: Our technical programs continue to drive our most popular careers, such as welding, powersports and truck driving. Carpentry has also seen a recent increase. Nursing at all levels is currently in high demand and we will have many nurses graduating this spring, including those who met the governor’s call to grow the number of Certified Nursing Assistants in Minnesota. Law enforcement also continues to be our highest enrollment and most graduates, even though we have seen some decrease in enrollment and graduates in part to industry climate. – Scott Berger, Vice President of Academic Affairs

ATCC graduation ceremony
More than 500 Alexandria Technical and Community College students were recognized at a graduation ceremony at the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria Wednesday.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

Q: Based on past years, how many students will get jobs in their field of study?

A: Our placement rate for graduates in related fields is 98%, which speaks not only to the strength of our programs and their reputation with businesses, but to the success and hard work of our students and graduates. Throughout our college’s history, job related placement has rarely been below 90%. – Michael Seymour, President

Q: How long does it typically take for an Alexandria College graduate to land that job?

A: Many of our graduates have jobs before they leave the college, especially in high demand fields like welding, law enforcement, nursing and powersports. Others often find work soon after graduating. – Jeff Wild, Vice President of Advancement and Outreach

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Q: What percentage of graduates land jobs right here in Douglas County?

A: We are still collecting data on our 2021 graduates. For the 2020 graduating class, 21.4% of graduates who went into the workforce (did not continue education) chose to work in Douglas County. – Heather Rondeau, Director of Research and Institutional Effectiveness

ATCC graduation ceremony
Alexandria Technical and Community College students listen to an address by one of their fellow students during the graduation ceremony at the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria Wednesday.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

Q: Historically, Alexandria College has had excellent placement and graduation rates. How high are they and what's the secret to that success?

A: The secret to our success really isn’t a secret at all. Our placement and graduation rates are a testament to the dedication of our faculty and staff to serve and educate students, and to our students who are focused on achieving their goals. It’s a reputation that Alexandria College has earned since it was founded to – in the words of our first President Vernon Maack – “find ‘em, teach ‘em, place ‘em.” Our placement rate is 98% and our graduation rate is 64%, both above average in Minnesota. Additionally, an average of 31% choose to continue their education toward a bachelor’s degree or higher. – Michael Seymour, President

Q: What is the average debt load for Alexandria College graduates?

A: The average debt load after graduation is about $12,000, according to the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. Just under half of students attending Alexandria College receive federal student loans. – Jon Erickson, Director of Financial Aid

Q: How do you hope graduates will look back at their days at Alexandria College?

A: I believe this year’s graduates will be appreciative that they were able to finish out their college education attending classes on campus. They were also able to socialize in person before and after class and although not able to read facial expressions in class while wearing a mask they quickly escaped to the outdoors and removed their masks. – Steve Richards, Dean of Business and Information Technology

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A: Deciding to attend college to obtain an education leading to a fulfilling, high paying career is one of the most important investments people can make in themselves. I hope that students reflect on this experience and recognize that the value goes beyond being prepared for financial success; it also includes the benefits they will enjoy through the strong relationships developed at Alexandria College. - Tamara Arnott, Dean of Liberal Arts and Transfer Pathways

A: I hope our graduates look back on their days at Alexandria College with a sense of pride believing that all the hard work, long hours, and late nights they put into completing their degree was a positive force for building their lives. – Sean Johns, Dean of Law Enforcement, Manufacturing and Transportation

Q: What is your advice to the 2022 graduates?

A: Approach each day with joy and intentionally demonstrate your gratitude. – Joni Jacobson, Early Childhood Education Instructor

A: Be grateful every day for what you have and look for ways to support others in their journey. Show up each day for your career, your family, and your community, ready to do your best. Go out of our way to help and when you are struggling, be brave enough to seek help. And of course, be an ambassador for Alexandria College. – Rondi Wussow, Early Childhood Education Instructor

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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