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July 20, 2019

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Members of Nicolet’s Minds That Move Us team meet to fine tune their presentation before the national competition. Members are, left to right, Chris Kolasa, automotive technician instructor, Toni Van Doren, business solutions coordinator, and Lisa Young, director of adult basic education.
Submitted photo

Members of Nicolet’s Minds That Move Us team meet to fine tune their presentation before the national competition. Members are, left to right, Chris Kolasa, automotive technician instructor, Toni Van Doren, business solutions coordinator, and Lisa Young, director of adult basic education.
6/15/2019 7:30:00 AM
Nicolet team heads to national 'Minds That Move Us' competition

A team of Nicolet College educators will vie for $100,000 in scholastic funding when they take to the stage at a "Shark Tank"-like competition as finalists at the Minds That Move Us Adult Career Pathways Festival in Miami, Fla.

The national competition challenged colleges to create innovative programs for disadvantaged adults 26 and older that would result in students earning a college credential that leads to better employment, Nicolet officials explained in a press release.

At Nicolet, reliable transportation to and from campus is a challenge for many financially-strapped students. To help remedy that, the college's Academic Success and Automotive programs partnered on a project that would provide transportation and also give students the necessary skills for a career in the automotive field.

Working on donated vehicles in need of significant repair, the students, identified as having barriers to learning or employment, would complete the college's one-year Automotive Technician technical diploma program. Graduates would then complete a scholarship application through the college with the top applications receiving the repaired and roadworthy vehicles.

"Then when they graduate, they have the option of entering the workforce with skills for gainful employment or they can continue their education at Nicolet to earn the more advanced two-year associate's degree in Automotive Technology," explained Lisa Young, director of adult basic education at Nicolet.

Along with instruction in the automotive field, students would also receive career development, in-class student support, and financial literacy services to help them succeed. On Aug. 7, Young, along with team members Chris Kolasa, automotive technology instructor, and Toni Van Doren, business solutions coordinator, will present their plan to a panel of judges comprised of executives from AT&T, JP Morgan Chase, Dollar General and others.

The Nicolet team made it through the preliminary round of the competition in 2018 and is now one of only 10 finalists. The Minds That Move Us organization is paying for the team's travel expenses.

If Nicolet wins, the $100,000 in prize money will go to support future automotive students and the program itself, Young said. Minds That Move Us will announce the winners in January 2020.

"Our goal is to create a pathway for adult students, especially those who may have experienced disadvantages in life, to achieve a greater level of career success than they would have otherwise," she said.





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