Northwest Technical College Celebrates Graduating Class of 2024

About 140 graduating students celebrated the end of this step in their lifelong academic journeys at Northwest Technical College’s annual commencement ceremony.

NTC’s Class of 2024 was celebrated at a May 3 ceremony at Bemidji’s Sanford Center.

Distinguished Minnesotan Mike Roberge

Mike Roberge delivers NTC's 2024 Commencement address

NTC’s Commencement address was delivered by Mike Roberge, chair and CEO of Boston-based MFS Investment Services. Roberge, a 1990 Bemidji State University graduate, reflected on his own journey from small-town, rural Minnesota to running a financial services company that manages a portfolio of $625 billion.

Roberge reflected on his journey as one of six children from a rural, southern Minnesota community who worked jobs at his father’s gas station and a family farm which “were not rewarding and encouraged me to want to go to college.”

His message to graduates emphasized that an education from Bemidji could take them anywhere they could dream, and that their degree from NTC had already given the tools they need in order to be successful.

“I sit on the 35th floor of a high-rise building in Boston, and out of my widow is the Charles River that separates Boston and Cambridge,” he said. “From there I can see two universities — Harvard and MIT. Who knew that MFS, this storied Boston firm, could be led by a graduate of Bemidji State University?”

He also shared what he said was the one piece of advice he gives to people when asked how they can be successful in an organization.

“Be a great teammate every day and make the others around you better,” he said. “Those who excel are not the ones who compete internally or spend all day trying to look good to the boss. But they lead by making everyone else better.”

Roberge, a dedicated philanthropist, also encouraged graduates to give back and support others in return for the support they have received throughout their own journeys.

“I would not have gone to BSU without financial aid; my parents would never have been able to afford to send me,” he said. “I will never, ever forget the impact it made on my success.”

Roberge addressed NTC’s graduates as the 40th recipient of the Distinguished Minnesotan award. First presented in 1981, the award acknowledges the contributions of current or former residents of the state who have performed exemplary service to the people of Minnesota or the United States.

President Hoffman’s Remarks to Graduates

John L. Hoffman, president of Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College, reminded graduates to be proud of what they had accomplished by earning a college degree.

“Today is a unique and special day,” he said. “NTC does not just give out degrees,” he said. “You have earned your place here today.”

He told students that, no matter what their future paths would hold, as NTC graduates they now shared a special kinship.

“For some of you, this is your last degree, and you’ll go directly into the workforce,” he said. “For some of you, you will transfer to BSU or to another institution. Some of you will return to college later in life.”

Student Speaker Kristy Iceman

NTC graduate Kristy Iceman, who earned certificates in Community Health Worker and Medical Coding, a diploma in Healthcare Administrative Support, and an Associate of Applied Science in Healthcare Administrative Leadership, addressed NTC’s Class of 2024 as its student speaker.

She relayed her background as one of eight children raised in Ponemah, Minn., along with a “tribe of kids we babysat or just looked after like our own,” and gave a shout-out to her mother, Phyllis, who was in attendance.

She told her fellow graduates that the trials and tribulations they face while working on their goals could provide challenges, but she encouraged them not to give up.

“The willpower, determination and challenges will all be worth it,” she said. “Always find ways to improve yourself and celebrate your achievements.”

After sharing a story about losing her brother to addiction, Iceman closed with a message of positivity for NTC’s Class of 2024: “Think positive, love others, and treat everyone with respect.”

Dr. Blake Smith

NTC’s final speaker was Dr. Blake Smith, a Bemidji-based dentist who is president of the NTC Foundation board. He explained the NTC Foundation boards role, describing them as “a group of volunteers who are dedicated to helping NTC students.”

He echoed Roberge’s remarks and shared with graduates that NTC had given them the tools necessary to succeed in the future.

“As all of you go out into the work force, know that NTC has prepared you well and given you a solid foundation to build a rewarding and successful career,” he said. “There will still be challenges and obstacles that you come across in your career, but know that from your training and education, you will have the tools to overcome and successfully resolve what comes your way.”

He also encouraged graduates to consider supporting future students in the same way that current donors and friends have provided support for their educations at NTC.

NTC Class of 2024: By the Numbers

NTC’s Class of 2024 earned:

  • 36 Associate of Applied Science degrees
  • 103 Associate of Science degrees
  • 75 diplomas
  • 41 certificates

In total, 118 of those credentials were earned with academic honors.

Commencement Gallery