Tag Archives: Fall 2017

Robert Bresin, Fall 2017 College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Student

Robert Bresin
Robert Bresin

A Maplewood resident has been selected a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Robert Bresin, who graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science degree, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Liberal Arts. He was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

Almost four years ago, Bresin was working as a certified veterinary technician. He decided it was time for a change, and made a calculated move toward furthering his education.

“I love just having class one night a week, it really made working a lot easier,” Bresin said.

He decided he would attend Metropolitan State University, based on its flexible class schedules, which would allow him to continue working full-time. He pursued a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, two classes at a time and progressed toward his degree.

Now, four years later, Bresin looks back on his college experience. “For me, graduation means that I can finally change careers and try to find something where I can continue to learn while finding meaningful work in the community,” Bresin said. Heartened by his accomplishment, he notes, “my family expected me to have a bachelor’s degree ten years ago.”

With his degree in hand, Bresin looks to the future. “I’m going to look for a job in advocacy, social services or public policy.  I need a year or two off from school, but then I plan to pursue a master’s degree, likely for [Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership] MAPL or public policy.”

Bresin hopes to spend more time reading, playing tennis, and just being outside. He will continue work as a veterinary technician while he seeks a new position in his field of study.

LaToya Burrell, Fall 2017 College of Management Outstanding Student

Latoya Burrell
Latoya Burrell

A Minneapolis resident has been selected as a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

LaToya Burrell, who graduated with a Master of Business Administration degree, was selected as an outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Management. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

Already an accomplished attorney and a teacher, Burrell wanted more and decided to further her education. “My program took me two years, I attended on a part-time basis, and I could continue to work full-time.”

Burrell appreciated “the diversity of the program, overall.” She enjoyed the opportunity to work with experienced and practicing law professionals, as well as students seeking their undergraduate degrees. “The diversity in nationalities and in people’s background made the experience that much more valuable for me.”

Practicing and teaching law, going to school, and maintaining a family can be a lot to juggle. “The idea of being able to balance time, and being able to give 100 percent to the program, yet not neglect my family or my career in the process.” Burrell says that earning her Master of Business Administration isn’t the end, but rather the start of something bigger.

For Burrell, it’s important that her young son sees his mother in her cap and gown, and walk across the stage on graduation day. “I want him to equate that toward graduation, and start to inspire him towards that.” Her husband, also an attorney, championed the decision to continue her education.

Burrell, armed with her master’s degree, looks forward to spending time with her family and her friends, while looking to the future.

Heather O’Rourke, Fall 2017 College of Nursing and Health Services Outstanding Graduate Student

Heather O'Rourke
Heather O’Rourke

A Hastings resident has been selected a fall semester Outstanding Graduate Student at Metropolitan State University.

Heather O’Rourke, who graduated with a Master of Science degree, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Nursing and Health Services. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

A short time ago, O’Rourke was working evenings as a patient access representative at an emergency room in the south metro so that she could have mornings free to care for her two children while her husband worked during the day. When her youngest child started kindergarten, O’Rourke began attending prerequisite classes at Metropolitan State University, working toward getting acceptance into the Entry Level Master of Nursing (ELMSN) program.

O’Rourke sailed through the prerequisites and began pursuing her nursing degree. She found comfort in the educational community. “Being with the same cohort for seven semesters really has given me the chance to get to know some extraordinary people. Many of us have become friends. Our cohort has gone seven semesters straight, including through two summers.”

Despite her course-load, working as support staff in an emergency room, and parenting two children, O’Rourke spends time each week packing nutrient-rich backpacks to be given to children in need at Food 4 Kids, part of the United Way in Hastings.

The past few years were busy for O’Rourke and her family. Even with her packed schedule, her family still was able to take camping trips and visit the beach in the summer. They look forward to more free time after graduation. “Freedom. We have had every moment scheduled for years. We are really looking forward to being able to spend some time together, to go camping more and to maybe even take a real vacation.”

O’Rourke looks to the future, “I am looking forward to passing the NCLEX and getting my first nursing job.” She plans to continue working with vulnerable adults, in a new capacity. “I want to start by working in psychiatric nursing in a large hospital to gain more experience and confidence; working with these populations and see what opportunities present themselves from there.”

Dionne Trice, Fall 2017 College of Community Studies and Public Affairs Outstanding Student

Dionne Trice
Dionne Trice

A Minneapolis resident has been selected a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Dionne Trice, Minneapolis, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, was chosen Outstanding Student in the university’s College of Community Studies and Public Affairs. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

After decades of passionate service as a supervisor for the women’s support group at the Oasis of Love Center in North Minneapolis, Trice set her sights on furthering her education. “My theme was I was going to hit the ground running, and run straight through here,” she said.

Two and half years of school later, Trice reached the end of her bachelorette journey and found that she  learned a lot about herself during the experience. “I appreciated the ‘difficult’ professor. It challenged me to take in the information, and really think about what I was working towards.” Trice recalls her most difficult class, Research Methods, as the class that ultimately garnered her Outstanding Student honor.

A mother and grandmother, Trice returned to school in the wake of tragedy. Losing her eldest son was a major turning point. “Trying to re-ground yourself, and relate with the rest of the world again… It was reaffirming to see the other side of something I’ve been doing whole life, counseling other people, when it was time to seek it for ourselves.” It would inspire Trice to do more.

With her husband in the hospital, and her daughter and grandkids at her home, Trice needed a quiet space to think. She found school to be an escape. “I was trying to do homework at the hospital; I was trying to sleep at the hospital, then I’d go to work… Being able to be at school and studying was a relief.”

Trice now plans to get a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. A self-proclaimed “nerd,” Trice is an avid dancer and reader of Deadpool comics, with a collection of 1,200 or so comics. “People are going to think I just like the movie, but I’ve been a huge Deadpool fan for years,” Trice says. She can also be found playing the videogame, Assassin’s Creed, with her grandson.

Metropolitan State University, a member of Minnesota State, is the Twin Cities’ public, urban, comprehensive state university providing lifelong learning and competitive academic and professional degree programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels.

Andrea O’Malley, Fall 2017 College of Community Studies and Public Affairs Outstanding Graduate Student

Andrea O'Malley
Andrea O’Malley

A Saint Paul resident has been selected a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Andrea O’Malley, Saint Paul, who graduated with a Master of Arts in Psychology, was chosen Outstanding Graduate Student in the university’s College of Community Studies and Public Affairs. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

Four months after earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, O’Malley was back at Metropolitan State University, enrolling in the master of psychology program.

With a full course load, and a full-time job as a targeted case manager with Ramsey County, O’Malley had her work cut out for her, “My main challenge as an adult student has been maintaining a full-time work and school schedule. I am fortunate to work in an environment that supports continuing education and was therefore able to be flexible with my work schedule.”

O’Malley also tutored in the Psychology Lab, and for data analysis. She says that her most memorable times at Metropolitan State were, “getting involved in research by both going to conferences and by collaborating with other students on campus.”

As a first-generation college graduate, O’Malley really caught the learning bug and has higher aspirations. “Next? I’m hoping for more school! I have applications out to several Legal Psychology PhD and JD/PhD programs and am hoping to gain acceptance for fall admission.”

O’Malley survived her college experience by taking “mini-vacations” with her husband and their two Chihuahuas. “We tried to sneak away every couple of months, even if it’s just for a few days.” To her celebrate her master’s degree, O’Malley and her husband plan a west coast road trip, accompanied by their beloved dogs.

Nikitha Kommera, Fall 2017 College of Sciences Outstanding Student

Nikitha Kommera
Nikitha Kommera

A Saint Paul resident has been selected a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Nikitha Kommera, who graduated with a Master of Computer Science degree, was selected as an outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Sciences. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

After completing her undergrad from a top university in Telangana, India, Kommera decided she would pursue a master’s degree in information technology in the United States. Finding a potential National Science Foundation research opportunity in cybersecurity at Metropolitan State sealed the deal for her.

She transferred from the University of Michigan to Metropolitan State in spring 2016. She started as a graduate research assistant under Dr. Faisal Kaleem. She drew on technical skills that she had learned as far back as high school, and went to work.

“I was inspired by Dr. Faisal to pursue a career in the field of cybersecurity,” she said.

Her first months of research came with challenges. “I was neither aware of the cybersecurity nor the project. But it is because of Dr. Faisal’s trust in my capabilities he gave me a chance to get onboard.” Kommera pushed through the difficulties for two years, balancing school and research. She also worked full-time to guarantee her project deadlines were met.

Kommera is a first-generation college graduate in her family. “My parents are extremely happy and proud of my achievements. They always dreamt of making my dreams come true and wanted me to succeed the way I want to succeed in life. I’m happy I made them proud.” Her parents attended her graduation ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.

With a recent move to Chicago, Kommera seeks opportunities to serve and protect the community from cybercrime. “I want to continue a lifelong journey towards making a significant contribution in the field of cybersecurity.” When she’s not busting cyber-criminals, Kommera can be found at the gym, spending time with her family, or relaxing with a book.