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A Century of Stories

Throughout 2014, MCTC celebrated 100 years of creating opportunities for students through education and training. As part of this celebration, we shared stories in honor of the 100 years MCTC has been part of the community. Here are some of our favorites:

Elizabeth Fish

In October 1914, Ms. Elizabeth Fish was appointed the first principal of Girls’ Vocational School. Despite criticism the school would take women away from “their place in the home,” Ms. Fish persevered and at the end of the first semester enrollment tripled to more than 250 students. Throughout her career—which ended only with her death in 1939, one year after the 25th anniversary of the school’s opening—she saw the school grow to serve both women and men, and come to offer night, naturalization and adult education classes.


On Jan. 30, 1917, the Minneapolis Morning Tribune featured the story of Edna, a Vocational student and immigrant, who made a life for herself despite family objections. Edna’s parents died when she was a child, leaving her to be raised by her brothers. Her brothers demanded she focus only on finding a husband to support her, however, Edna was determined to get an education. After struggling to afford a local high school, she learned about Girls’ Vocational, its two-year courses and absence of all fees except one dollar per year for stationary. She quickly enrolled and began supporting herself as a nursemaid while she received her long dreamed of education. “You can’t imagine what a stimulus you get studying in a school like this,” she told the journalist. “I hadn’t been here a week before I felt I belonged. And the best of it is my brothers, who wouldn’t have anything to do with me for months, admit now that maybe I wasn’t so wrong, after all.”

Power of YOU

In 2006, MCTC accepted the challenge of closing the achievement gap by launching the Power of YOU. The Power of YOU eliminates financial barriers by guaranteeing two years of tuition-free college at MCTC. Since its beginning, the program has enrolled more than 1,300 recent urban high school graduates. The overwhelming majority of these students have been students of color and students with limited income. As a result of the Power of YOU, enrollments at MCTC of recent Minneapolis and St. Paul public high school graduates has greatly increased. The program expanded in 2012 to include:

  • Brooklyn Center
  • Columbia Heights
  • Henry Sibley Senior High
  • North Senior High (North St. Paul)
  • Richfield
  • Robbinsdale Cooper
  • Roseville Area Senior High
  • Simley Senior High
  • South St. Paul Senior High
  • Tartan Senior High
  • Woodbury Senior High 
SAAB Receives National “Stellar Chapter” Award

The MCTC chapter of Student African American Brotherhood/Brother2Brother (SAAB) received one of only two national SAAB “Stellar Chapter” awards at the SAAB national conference this year. The MCTC chapter of SAAB—the first in Minnesota—was formed in the fall of 2011 as an initiative of the College designed to increase retention and graduation rates for African-American students. This is the second time in a row the chapter has won this award.

All-USA Community College Academic Team

This spring, Louis Fobb was named to the All-USA Community College Academic Team. Only 20 students from more 1,800 nominations were selected for this prestigious honor, receiving a total of $50,000 in scholarships. The All-USA Community College Academic Team is presented by USA TODAY and Phi Theta Kappa, and is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group. Additional support is provided by the American Association of Community Colleges. Fobb is the fourth consecutive MCTC student to receive this award and the seventh MCTC student to be honored in the history of the award.

A Family Graduates Together—In May of 2013, a family of MCTC students proved the family that studies together succeeds together. Awoussi Koussandja and her daughter Etonam (Fanny) Okaikue-Woodi walked across the stage at the Minneapolis Convention Center to receive their MCTC diplomas. Sandra Okaikue-Woodi, Fanny’s sister and Awoussi’s younger daughter, completed her Post-Secondary Enrollment Option studies at MCTC and received her diploma from St. Anthony Village High School. Throughout their educational experience at MCTC, the family supported and inspired one another to reach their goals.

Share your MCTC story

If you are an MCTC Alum and have an inspirational story or a memory of MCTC, please share it with us here!

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