MCTC student Geoff Dittberner was named as the Minnesota representative of the 21st annual All-USA Community College Academic Team, and honored for his outstanding intellectual achievement and leadership. He was also honored as a Coca-Cola New Century Scholar. Dittberner joins four other MCTC students who have been named to the team over the years.
He received a $2,500 stipend, was featured in today’s USA TODAY, and honored during the Annual Convention of the American Association of Community Colleges in New Orleans, LA. Only 20 students from more than 1,600 nominations were selected for this prestigious honor. The All-USA Community College Academic Team is presented by USA TODAY and Phi Theta Kappa and is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group.
As a Coca-Cola New Century Scholar, Dittberner received a $2,000 scholarship and plaque from the Coca-Cola Foundation and Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. He will also receive recognition for this award at the convention.
MCTC President Phil Davis says, “Geoff Dittberner exemplifies the kind of civic engagement we want to promote in our students. He has provided leadership at the local, state and national levels, advocating for the interest of students. I expect one day he will be leading us as a public official.”
Dittberner, a political science major with a 3.77 grade point average, has been exceptionally active in student organizations. He served as Vice President and Interim President of the Student Senate (2009-2010), in which he was responsible for the overall organization of one of the largest, most diverse Student Senate’s in the public two-year college system in Minnesota. He worked with more than 40 Senators and club leaders in developing leadership on the campus and at community and national levels. He oversaw and supported more than 40 clubs and organizations, helping them thrive and grow through outreach and policy development.
Since July 2010 he has served as Vice President for the Minnesota State College Students Association (MSCSA). During his tenure, he has been an advocate for student issues at the State Capitol and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and has created and facilitated engaging workshops to develop student leaders into more efficient advocates.
He also serves as chair of the MSCSA Platform Committee, which is charged with carrying out the legislative, policy and advocacy duties of MSCSA and coordinating all MSCSA advocacy events. MSCSA’s Rally Day, lead by Dittberner, was the most attended student lobby day for the public higher education system.
Dittberner lead MSCSA’s 2010 voter registration campaign, which he considers one of his most significant endeavors. “I see the duty of democratic participation as both a means of self-motivation and a need for one to inspire others to become active,” he says. As a result of his team’s efforts, the group registered more students in a midterm election than they did in the 2008 Presidential election, travelling to every corner of the state.
“Would my sense of civic duty be as ingrained had I not been instructed by a Political Science instructor whose goal was to empower students to make changes in their lives and communities?” Dittberner asks. “I can speculate that so much of what I have to offer this world has been a result of what has been offered to me by my former educators.”
Before deciding to study political science, Dittberner was an Addiction Counseling major and formed and served as president of MCTC’s Addiction Counseling Club. He recruited students and developed strong governance for the organization. He also initiated club involvement with Minnesota Association of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health, which resulted in professional certification. This club continues to thrive.
“As a teenager, I was troubled with drug addiction. I moved from school to school, being kicked out twice. College was something that had always been a daunting prospect, given my spotty academic history. At MCTC, I found a campus with faculty and staff who were dedicated to student success,” Dittberner says.
“At MCTC, I found a school that introduced me to the absolute value of civic engagement; at MCTC, I found faculty, many highly qualified, who chose to teach at this diverse urban campus because they know they are educating students who may have otherwise fallen through the cracks. Most importantly, at MCTC, I found a school whose faculty and staff took the initiative to mend those societal cracks. The sticker price of MCTC was the initial reason for my college choice; but it was when I joined that incredible community of scholars and activists that I knew I had chosen wisely.”
Dittberner plans on transferring to pursue a BA in Political Science and later attend law school or Graduate school for Public Policy to work as a lobbyist for a non-profit or work in state and federal government.
Dittberner and Kariim Adam, a human services major at MCTC, were named named to the Phi Theta Kappa All-Minnesota Academic Team for two year colleges. The Phi Theta Kappa All-Minnesota Academic Team Celebration was held at the Royal Cliff in Eagan, Minn., Friday, March 25, 2011. Forty-five students from 20 two-year colleges in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system were honored for their selection to the 2010–2011 All-Minnesota Academic Team, which recognizes scholars for their hard work and dedication in pursuit of personal and academic goals while contributing to the success of friends, family and the community.
USA TODAY’s All-USA Community College Academic Team recognizes exceptional students at the nation’s community colleges. Judges consider grades, academic rigor, growth and how well the students use their education to benefit their schools and communities.