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The College of Menominee Nation

Originally appeared in Market Messenger's "Focus"


Lecture halls and labs are only part of the scene for College of Menominee Nation students. Many of those enrolled at the College from around the region make road trips, competitions, chances to meet VIPs, and opportunities to tell their stories and display their talents.


Sharing their personal stories recently won CMN students Chelsea LaTender, Sarah Brei and Taylor Oudenhoven a place in a book titled “The PEEC Experiment: Native Hawaiian and Native American Engineering Education.” Published by South Dakota State University, the book details undergraduate programs supported by National Science Foundation grants in four states. The College of Menominee Nation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and UW-Platteville are the only Wisconsin grantees.


A cohort of several CMN students and some 500 other collegians nationwide engaged in collaborative projects under the PEEC title (Pre-Engineering Education Collaboratives). LaTender of Keshena, Brei, a Gresham resident, and Oudenhoven, Green Bay, are among a dozen of the participants to have personal essays featured in the book. The essays tell how each came to choose engineering and describes experiences in PEEC program. The theme shared by CMN’s students is that internships and the cohort learning environment at the College kept them excited about engineering and cemented their commitment to the profession.


For Rickie Lee Dodge, a member of the CMN student Rocket Club, the opportunity to tell her story was in person, rather than in writing. And her audience was members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation in Washington D.C. The Keshena resident was chosen to represent the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) and advocate on behalf of projects sponsored by NASA for college and university students. She made the trip East in February with WSGC professional leaders to meet legislators. In late April, she was representing CMN again – this time as a team member at the High-Powered Rocket Competition’s First Nations Launch in Racine County. The event brought together students from 27 colleges and universities from a dozen states. CMN won third place in the tribal category.


Competition of another kind had CMN teams doing prep work in a number of academic fields for the annual American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) student conference. Eleven participants from the College traveled to Rapid City, S.D., in March to meet peers and compete with students from the 36 other tribal colleges in the U.S.

Bringing home first place honors in the Business Bowl match were Lloyd Frieson Jr., Keshena; Sabrina Hemken, Shawano; Christa Lyons, Keshena, and Adam Schulz, Gresham. Teams from the College also placed in Serious and Humorous Oral Interpretation categories and the AIHEC Science Bowl.


Travel isn’t always required, as CMN students find when prominent scientists, educators and others visit the College’s campuses. Among the VIPs on site this year were retired NASA Astronaut John Herrington of Colorado and Sandra Begay, a structural engineer at New Mexico’s Sandia National Laboratories. Visitors from closer to home included a number of professional Wisconsin women engaged in academic and industrial STEM fields who presented in a seminar series throughout fall semester.


Instead of travel, some CMN students are broadcasting a bit of the College out to the world. Their CMN Online Campus Radio is the vehicle. As a spin-off of a Digital Media course, the project launched in Spring 2016 and has been active 24/7 when the College is in session. Students including Joseph Waukechon of Bonduel, Autumn Michaletz, Gresham, and Trevor Madosh, Keshena, are among the regulars producing content that has included original Native music, excerpts from the summer 2016 Menominee Pageant revival project, and guest interviews.


Student life offerings, internships and academic enrichment programs like these are on-going opportunities at CMN. They are open to traditional and adult students enrolled in the College’s Bachelor’s Degree, Associate Degree and technical diploma studies. To learn more, call or visit the College at N172 State Highway 46/55 in Keshena, or South Ridge Road in Green Bay. Or check CMN out online: