Perseverance and Family Support Propel NTC’s Erica Manker Towards her Dreams

Erica Manker has faced many challenges while pursuing her education. As a non-traditional student committed to raising her family and living with a nervous system disorder, she is now on her way to earning multiple college degrees from Northwest Technical College.

In January 2019, Manker contracted Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the nervous system, and became paralyzed from the chest down. In 2019, she spent seven months in a rehabilitation center at the University of Minnesota. Since then, she has regained some mobility but lost all or most of the nerves in her legs, left arm and right hand. Despite all of the challenges presented by the disorder, Manker is not giving up on her academic goals.

Motivated by the desire to better herself and push towards a stable and successful future, Manker said she persevered through her medical condition for her six children with the help of her fiancé.

“I decided to continue with my schooling to prove to my kids, four of whom have special needs, that a disability doesn’t define who you are and that you can still achieve your dreams,” Manker said.

This year, after achieving her goal to sustain a 4.0 GPA, Manker received NTC’s Outstanding Business and Medical Coding Student Awards during the Second Annual Achievement Day. She also received the Perseverance Award for her resilient attitude toward her education.

In May, Manker received her medical coding certificate and is on track to graduate in December 2021 with an associate of applied science in business and certificates in accounting, human resources management and business entrepreneurship. She will also receive a diploma in healthcare administrative support.

“Once I finish that, I should be well enough into recovery to finish my diploma and associate in applied science degree in medical coding by May 2022,” she said. “I plan to start up my own medical billing business with an emphasis on employing those who are handicap-able, like myself.”

Although facing a number of obstacles in her life and academic career, Manker said that she always found encouragement and support from her children, her fiancé and her NTC mentors.


MN State logoNorthwest Technical College, located in northern Minnesota’s lake district, has prepared students for fulfilling careers in high-demand fields for more than 50 years. The college’s accessible, affordable, hands-on programs also help the region’s employers meet their ever-growing need for a highly skilled workforce. NTC serves more than 1,000 students with an excellent education, an open-enrollment policy and affordable tuition. Students may pursue nearly 40 degree, diploma and certificate programs in six distinct career paths. Classes are offered on campus, online, or as a combination of both. NTC is a member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities. For more, visit