FERGUS FALLS — The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has named Minnesota State Community and Technical College as an Aspen Prize Top 150 U.S. Community College, making it eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence for 2021.

The institute selects its top 150 community colleges from nearly 1,000 colleges nationwide based on student success in the areas of learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

This is the sixth time that the Aspen Institute has included M State on its list of top community colleges. The college has campuses in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena.

“I’m so proud that the work of our faculty, staff and administrators has been recognized by the Aspen Institute as one of the Top 150 colleges in the nation for the sixth consecutive award cycle,” said M State President Carrie Brimhall. “At M State, we are all in when it comes to student success!”

The mission of the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C., is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.

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Data show that over the last two years, student retention, graduation rates and degree completion have improved at the top tier of 150 Aspen Prize-eligible colleges.

“Community colleges play a vital role in developing talent and enabling social mobility across the country, and it’s critical for them to get better at what they do,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the institute’s College Excellence Program. “We’re pleased to see evidence that these institutions are improving, that more are delivering on their promise. We’re also pleased to play a role in honoring outstanding community colleges and sharing what works to ensure great outcomes for students — through graduation and beyond.”

The Aspen Institute’s current top 150 colleges are located in 39 states in urban, rural and suburban areas, with enrollments ranging from 500 to 75,000 students. The other Minnesota State system colleges eligible to compete for the award are Alexandria Technical & Community College, Northland Community & Technical College, Ridgewater College and Saint Paul College. The top 10 finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020, and award decisions will be made in spring 2021.

Two Detroit Lakes students earn nursing degrees from WGU

DETROIT LAKES — Bergen Nimlos and David Nimlos, both of Detroit Lakes, recently earned their Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing from Western Governors University (WGU).

The online, nonprofit university held commencement ceremonies in Cincinnati, Ohio; Anaheim, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Seattle, Washington in the spring and summer of 2019 to celebrate the graduation of more than 10,000 students from across the country.

Two local students graduate from St. Olaf

NORTHFIELD —Two local students, Carolyn Jane Kinney of Audubon and Alexis Gloria Jenson of Detroit Lakes, recently graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

Carolyn, who graduated with magna cum laude academic honors, received her degree in religion and psychology.

Alexis, the daughter of Robert and Jackelyn Jenson, received her degree in political science and Russian area studies.

Both are alumni of Detroit Lakes High School.

Vergas's Blanchard named to dean's list at UW-Madison

MADISON, Wis. — Evan Blanchard, Vergas, a student in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM), was named to the UWM dean's honor list for his academic achievements during spring semester 2019.

Students who achieve at a high level academically are recognized by the dean at the close of each semester. To be eligible for the Dean's List, students must complete a minimum of 12 graded degree credits in that semester.