MW students named to All-Minnesota Academic Team

WORTHINGTON -- Four Minnesota West Community and Technical College students have been named to the Phi Theta Kappa 2017 All-Minnesota Academic Team. Brenda Orozco and Joseph Wieneke, both of the Worthington campus, Sierra Williamson, a post secon...

Minnesota West Community and Technical College students Joseph Wieneke (second from left), Sierra Williamson (middle) and Brenda Orozco (right) pose with Le Lucht, Phi Theta Kappa advisor, at the Phi Theta Kappa 2017 All-Minnesota Academic Team ceremony March 24 at he College of St. Benedict. (Special to the Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Four Minnesota West Community and Technical College students have been named to the Phi Theta Kappa 2017 All-Minnesota Academic Team.


Brenda Orozco and Joseph Wieneke, both of the Worthington campus, Sierra Williamson, a post secondary education student at the Jackson campus, and Crystal Cluraghty of the Granite Falls campus were among the 42 community and technical college students recognized statewide.


Orozco, Wieneke, and Williamson attended a March 24 award ceremony with their families at the College of St Benedict in St. Paul. Each student received a medallion and a certification of recognition.



Le Lucht, Phi Theta Kappa advisor, explained that the students chosen do not necessarily need to be part of Phi Theta Kappa, but must attain a certain GPA and be involved in their communities. She added that a big portion of the application process is explaining their involvement with community service and leadership.

Lucht said faculty and staff nominate the students, who then decide if they wish to apply.


Afterward, Lucht and other faculty members review the applications and choose two students from each of the Minnesota West campuses. Those applicants are subsequently reviewed by the Phi Theta Kappa All-Minnesota Academic Team board.


“The stories you hear at the ceremony truly give you goosebumps because the world has been left in wonderful hands,” Lucht said. “When they are recognized … there are tears in people's eyes when you hear the stories from the students.”



Lucht said that being chosen as part of the All-Minnesota Academic Team opens many doors for scholarships as students move forward to four-year institutions. In addition, students are also able to apply for other scholarships, such as the Coca-Cola Scholarship.


“If these kids decide to transfer, there is a pot of money set aside for them when they apply because they are academically very strong, strong leaders and strong in service, and all those are the qualities we want our citizens to have,” Lucht said.


Orozco said she was encouraged to apply since she knew it could help her get financial aid. She intends to pursue pre-med studies, with an emphasis on chemistry and math, at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D. She added that listening to the experiences of other students was eye-opening for her.


“The main thing for me is the scholarships,” Orozco said. “Also, it was a really great opportunity being there and seeing other people that are in two-year colleges who are doing really well, too.”



Orozco, a Worthington High School graduate, said her day is filled with classes, homework, work and tutoring chemistry. Every piece of extra work she puts in is worth it, though, since she knows that not everyone is able to have the opportunities she enjoys.


“Education is a blessing,” Orozco said. “Everybody who has an opportunity to get it should take advantage of every second they are in the classroom.”


Orozco said her parents may have not have an education, but have been her main motivation to work hard.


“I never ever thought about dropping out of school or just settling with a high school diploma and I think they are the main reason why,” she said.


Wieneke, for his part, said his motivation for excelling in school comes from seeing people close to him succeed thanks to having an education.


“My motivation is my family and friends and seeing how far education has got them,” Wieneke said. “I have the hope of being as successful as them after completing my education.”


Wieneke has not only been an exceptional student, but is also part of the Minnesota West baseball team and has a full-time job. He will be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science in Dakota State University in Madison, S.D., and plans to also attain a master’s degree.  

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