Nearly 60 students were awarded diplomas at the Des Moines Area Community College Carroll campus graduation Monday night. They leave the Carroll High School gym to cheers from family and friends.
Nearly 60 students were awarded diplomas at the Des Moines Area Community College Carroll campus graduation Monday night. They leave the Carroll High School gym to cheers from family and friends.
May 13, 2014

Presenting the featured speech at the Des Moines Area Community College commencement ceremony Monday night in the Carroll High School gym, DMACC library-media specialist Lisa Dreesman poked a little fun at herself.

"You may be asking yourselves what the DMACC librarian has to say that will resonate with you," said Dreesman, who was a media specialist with Carroll Community Schools from 1990 until 2008 when she moved to DMACC. "Quite honestly it was the same thing I asked myself when (interim DMACC Carroll provost) John Brockelsby asked if I would do this. What words of wisdom may I impart that you can carry with you, if not for the rest of your life, at least as far as the parking lot outside?"

She continued, "Here is my advice and my wish for you: First, know and learn from your own story and acquire the discipline that is required to change if you aren't liking the way your story may end; secondly, make real connections with people who are outside your inner circle and comfort zone; and lastly be an informed and active citizen."

Aiming for her message to hit home with the nearly 60 graduates, Dreesman didn't have to look any farther than her own home to present examples illustrating those points.

She recounted her husband Rod's return to school, setting off on a new career direction - one that would be more secure and more friendly to a quality family life. Rod became a student again, attending DMACC Carroll. He struggled - in his mid-40s he was juggling duties of full-time work, full-time parent and part-time student. He had doubts and thought at times about giving up but stayed on course.

"With hard work and perseverance and with the mentoring of outstanding and understanding instructors, and a bit of cheerleading and encouragement from his family and friends, my husband, Rod earned his AAS (associate of applied science in industrial electro-mechanical technology/wind energy) degree in four years, graduating with honors. One of the proudest moments of my life was to read his name as he walked across the stage to receive his DMACC diploma (in 2012)," Dreesman said.

But that diploma didn't immediately win Rod a new, better career.

Dreesman, who is also an instructor, teaching College Experience, Introduction to Education, and Honors Seminar courses, said, "It (college diploma) is a terrific building block, but there is still work that must be done. We worked together on constructing his resume and his cover letter. He contacted his references and began applying for maintenance technician positions across the state in the wind energy field and in manufacturing. He was called for interviews for a few, and received emails or phone calls from all of them, saying he hadn't made the final cut due to lack of experience. For two years this continued, feeling disappointed and discouraged with each 'No.'"

But this February, Dreesman recalled, Rod received an email from one of his former DMACC instructors that said a company was immediately hiring several technicians for the Adair, Iowa, wind farm and if he was interested to submit his resume. He emailed his resume that morning, received a call from the company's human resources department that afternoon to set up a phone interview for the following day. He interviewed and was hired, received confirmation for plane tickets to his training and three weeks later was standing at the base of a wind turbine in San Angelo, Texas, with seven other new hires.

Dreesman then asked her husband in the graduation audience Monday night whether it was worth it. He shouted back that it indeed was.

"Hard work, perseverance, patience, and discipline win the day again," Dreesman said. "Every one of you has made a choice to better yourself through additional education or training. Good for you for having the discipline and drive to carry it through."

Dreesman noted that networking also played a big part in her husband's success.

"It was an instructor that he had two years ago that he had kept in contact with that notified him, someone that knew someone that knew something," she said. "It was the combination of his educational degree and his networking that was the key to getting his foot in the door. Expanding your circle of friends on Facebook and getting more followers on Twitter will not cut it. So look up from your devices and begin to reach out and have real conversations that will help you invest in yourself."

Dreesman said her final advice - she called it actually more a plea or begging - is for the graduates to be informed and active citizens.

"Know what issues are being discussed and care about how the issues affect you and your family's livelihood and quality of life," she said. "Act. When issues go to a vote, exercise your right to do so. Much legislation is enacted to ensure the quality of life for our future and the best way to do that is to educate yourself, ask questions, discuss with other people, then email, call or write your representatives - your smartphone, your tablet or computer allows you to do all of those things you know - then make an informed decision in the voting booth or by absentee ballot. Too many times decisions that affect all of us are decided by just a few of us, and the way to be heard is by voting when given the opportunity to do so."

Commencement's other speakers were Sami Venteicher and Jon Galletley III. Venteicher, a 2012 Carroll High School graduate, received her associate of arts in liberal arts and plans to transfer to the University of Iowa to study psychiatry. She's president of the Student Activities Council and has been active in Phi Theta Kappa. Galletley, of Lake City, is president of Beta Theta Xi, the Carroll chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges. He was one of 45 students chosen for the 2014 All-Iowa Academic Team and has completed the honors program at DMACC. He plans to attend Iowa State University and major in physics. He hopes to work toward a Ph.D. in atomic physics.

Galletley is joined on the All-Iowa Academic Team by DMACC Carroll's Traci Rosenau, who received a degree in practical nursing. Both received certificates from provost Brockelsby at the commencement.