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Class of 2021: Graduate Success Stories

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Class of 2021 Graduates

Michaela Spear, Mathew Chesang, Helen Schmitz, and Braxton Waller

Class of 2021: Graduate Success Stories

Graduating from high school and college - at the same time

Michaela Spear was on track to get enough credits to graduate from Houston High School by the end of tenth grade, so she started taking college classes at Minnesota State College Southeast through the PSEO program, which allows high school students to take college classes at no cost.

This spring, she graduated from both high school and Minnesota State College Southeast at the same time, having already completed a two-year college degree in Administrative Assistant. Read Michaela's story

Grateful for the support that made his success possible

Last December, Mathew Chesang graduated from Minnesota State College Southeast's Practical Nursing program with honors. He passed the NCLEX-PN(r) exam this spring to become a Licensed Practical Nurse. Now he is ready to enter the workforce and move forward with his hard-won professional skills. 

He appreciated the welcoming environment at the college. "Everyone was very friendly to me, very helpful, the students, the staff, and the teachers. I also liked it that there were small classes," he said. As he celebrates college graduation, Mathew is grateful for the support of his wife, his kids, his classmates, the nursing department faculty, and the staff of CareerForce Winona. Read Mathew's story

Back to college while caring for her family

Helen Schmitz remembers the exact moment she decided to go back to college. "It was the last Sunday in July of 2018. I literally woke up that morning and thought, I want to go back to school. I knew there had to be some kind of program for me at Southeast," she said. 

She found success at the college. Though she's considered a member of the class of 2021, Helen actually graduated from MSC Southeast at the end of Fall Semester 2020 with an associate of applied science degree in Criminal Justice. She has already moved on to the next stage in her education, having transferred to Winona State University's Legal Studies program for a bachelor's degree. Read Helen's story

Southeast changed his perspective

MSC Southeast wasn't Braxton Waller's first attempt at going to college, or even his second. Previously he had enrolled at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and later UW-Stout. But Southeast became a home to him. He graduated with honors this spring, having completed an associate of applied science degree in Information Technology Support.

"I struggled with school my whole life, but there was a shift when I started doing it for myself -- not because someone else expected me to. Southeast has actually shifted my perspective," he said. Read Braxton's story

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