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Photo of all the members of the Academic Support Center Staff

Academic Support Center staff from left to right: Trisha Moran, (Assistive Technology Specialist), Jessica Rosen (Learning Specialist), Ann Dirksen (Administrative Assistant), Elaine Hardwick (Science Tutor), Kelly Karstad (Director), Michael Slotemaker (Writing Center Coordinator), Connie Oleson (Math Center Coordinator), Susan Much (Disability Accommodations Coordinator).

Trisha Moran, Assistive Technology Specialist

About me: I am a graduate of SCC myself, having earned my AAS degree in Speech-Language Pathology Assisting. After graduation, I worked in a K-12 school as a Speech Pathology Assistant. I took a 12-year hiatus to be the parts manager at a powersports dealership. As time went on, I realized I missed making a difference in people's lives. Accepting a position at Mayo Hospital in Mankato as an Audiology Technician allowed me to re-enter my field. Eventually, I made my way back to SCC for the Assistive Technology Specialist role, and things have come full circle.  I’m fortunate to be back!
As an Assistive Technology Specialist, I help students with disabilities use various tools or software to have equal access. These tools can be as simple as highlighters to take more useful notes or more complex, like text-to-speech computer programs that can read textbooks aloud. My goal is to find a tool that the student can adopt and use daily to help them be successful.

What I love about SCC:  My learning at SCC provided me with real-world, applicable knowledge within the time and financial boundaries that I had set for myself as a non-traditional student.

Interests/Things to chat with me about:  I enjoy the arts, state parks, vintage cars, motorcycles, traveling, fishing, polka dancing, and raising chickens (along with my family)!

Jessica Rosen, Learning Specialist

About me: I began teaching English composition in 2002 at Texas State University where I earned an MFA in creative writing. Since then, I have taught and tutored in my hometown of Chicago, in a small town on the Oregon Coast, and online. I landed here at SCC in the summer of 2017 and have loved the opportunity to work with such a diverse body of students. In my position as Learning Specialist, I oversee the Academic Support Center on the Faribault campus and work with students to improve their reading, writing, and study skills.

What I love about SCC: The students! I love learning about where our students are from and seeing them work so hard to achieve their goals.

Interests/Things to chat with me about: Traveling, camping, books, poetry, parenting, crafting, and art.

Ann Dirksen, ABCDT, Administrative Assistant

About me: I married right after high school and started a family before I started working. Before having our first child, I bought a miniature poodle, went to the Public Library and found a book on how to give dog haircuts. Before long, by word of mouth, I was giving about 25 more dogs haircuts. I was a lifeguard for the Learning Unlimited Program, worked in a nursing home as a Nurse’s Aide. I was an Inspector and taught Blue Print Reading. The company shut its doors, and I decided to go back to school. Some people wanted me to go to Veterinarian school others wanted me to go to school for Nursing. I was asked to tutor other students in Accounting and Computer Programming. After graduating I got a position in the Bookstore. I worked years before the college became part of the State of Minnesota Colleges. I started when the college was “Mankato Technical College” and went through a few name changes and 4 presidents.  You question the ABCDT after my name…I am also Certified to teach Dog Obedience.

What I love about SCC: I love that individuals get to improve their lifelong skills in many different technical programs.

Interests/Things to chat with me about: I like traveling, baking, candy making, romcom movies, swimming, dog obedience training, rally, and fastcat.

Elaine O. Hardwick, Professional Science Tutor (College Lab Assistant II)

About me: My SCC position involves tutoring students enrolled in a variety of science courses either individually or in small groups. My training is in biological sciences research, education (teaching, mentoring, advising), with 20+ years in the public education system for grades 6-12, and at the university and college-level.

What I love about SCC: The students are very fun and enjoyable – it is exciting to see them at graduation after they have worked through their programs!

Interests/Things to chat with me about: I adopt rescue dogs and cats.

Kelly Karstad, Director-Academic Support Center

About me:  After earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and working in the mental health field in various roles, I had my first experience working in education as a teaching assistant at Riverbend Alternative Learning Center in New Ulm, MN. It was there that I witnessed the power of staff-student relationships in moving students forward in their personal and academic journey. I knew I wanted to continue this kind of work, so I went on to graduate study of College Student Personnel at MNSU-Mankato. From there I worked at Gustavus Adolphus College, a small private residential college, yet another prime environment for developing meaningful relationships with students.  I joined the SCC community as Director of the Academic Support Center in 2019 with excitement to work with a diverse student body who live, work, and study in the community that I call home.  

What I love about SCC:  I love knowing that people come here to make a better life for themselves, whether that’s by gaining transfer credits, earning a certificate in a new career path, or taking courses to improve specific skills for professional or personal development.

Interests/Things to chat with me about: Yoga, gardening, camping, music, and places to hike, bike, swim, or paddleboard in the area.

Michael Slotemaker, Writing Center Coordinator

About me: During my own journey as a college student, I attended four universities and a community college, ultimately graduating with my Bachelor's of Science in Secondary Education (English/Speech) from Minnesota State University. I continued my education at the same institution, where I earned an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in YA Fiction.

From my time in a pre-school during college to teaching at four universities, I have been lucky to work with students ranging in ages from 3 to 78, and they tend to have more in common than they have differences.  In addition to running The Write Spot at South Central College, I currently teach various English classes and Academic/Professional Success courses at two online universities. But my real work begins when I’m “off the clock” as I am the blessed father of two boys, ages 6 and 10.

I am originally from Washington State and still envision my home surrounded by towering cedar trees, somewhere between the Cascade mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

What I love about SCC: I am energized by hearing students’ stories and knowing that SCC offers them unique opportunities to share their lives with the faculty and staff.

Interests/Things to chat with me about: Parenthood, education, self-improvement, meditation, forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, and roads not taken.

Connie Oleson, Math Center Coordinator

About me: I started my college career at the University of Minnesota, Morris where I majored in Business Administration and minored in Mathematics.  I transferred to Minnesota State University, Moorhead and decided to major in Mathematics and minor in Business Administration.  I tutored for two years for the counseling center and in the Math Department’s Math Center.  I earned my secondary teaching license from North Dakota State University in Fargo.  When I first moved to Mankato, I started a career at Consolidated Communications in the accounting department.  After a few years in that field, my husband heard a radio advertisement that SCC was seeking a math tutor.  I applied and am grateful to have spent the last twenty years in a position where I can serve students and see them reach their goals.  I coordinate the center and tutor as well.

What I love about SCC: I love the atmosphere at SCC.  We are student-focused and strive to make sure our students feel welcome and that their voices are heard.

Interests/Things to chat with me about: I love to chat about hiking, biking, camping, scouting, family and of course mathematics.

Susan Mucha, Disability Accommodation Coordinator

About me: After graduating from high school, I attended MSU-Mankato and earned a B.S. degree in Mathematics and Health Education. Shortly after that, I began working at Minnesota West Community and Technical College as a Mathematics and Support Services Tutor, Technical Mathematics Instructor, and Adult Basic Education Instructor. After moving back to the Mankato area, I briefly worked at Mayo Health System as the Hospice Volunteer Coordinator prior to starting at SCC. Currently, my main role at SCC is to coordinate accommodations for students with disabilities to ensure that they have equal access to their courses and materials. Other roles I have had at SCC include tutoring for Mathematics, English, and Study Skills as well as teaching First Year Experience and Mathematics courses. While working at SCC, I also decided to continue my education and completed my M.S. degree in Post-Secondary and Adult Education. I have experience as both a traditional and nontraditional student and have experienced the challenges that come along with both.

What I love about SCC: I love that SCC has so many technical program options that help students achieve their goals in a timely manner.

Interests/Things to chat with me about: Family, mental health awareness, pets, photography, science fiction, technology.