Generous donors help students learn workforce skills at Pine Tech

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At Pine Technical and Community College, the philanthropy keeps rolling in in the form of more scholarships, which means more higher education opportunities in fields including machining and manufacturing.

“I would just say thank you,” said Cecelia Peterson, a Pine Tech student. “I can’t say that enough.”

For Peterson, her first two years at Pine Tech are absolutely free. Her plan is to get general education credits and then explore transferring once she settles on a career path.

The Rush City High School graduate took advantage of an incredible donation from local philanthropist Dennis Frandsen.

Frandsen, who built his financial and manufacturing empire in the region, has offered free two-year scholarships at Pine to all graduating seniors at Rush City.

“I just think it’s very selfless,” Peterson said. “Like you have to be like that to give other people a chance like that. I think it’s really awesome.”

Now, there are additional scholarship opportunities at Pine thanks to a second local family stepping up.

They have asked to remain anonymous, but their financial package targets 2019 seniors who come from low income backgrounds.

To be eligible, a student must attend one of nine regional high schools and qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The scholarships cover the first year of college, which costs about $5,000 at Pine. It also includes another $1,000 for books or tools.

“We need more of those kids to get those skills,” said Joe Mulford, the Pine Tech President. “We know they’ll stay in the community in the end. That was one of things. More people in workforce and support the businesses in the area.”

One of the qualifying schools for these new “Kickstart” scholarships is nearby Pine City High School.

“It’s a great opportunity for families that might not have had college in the picture,” said Amanda Essen, a Pine City High School Counselor. “Now, they’re able to do it. It’s awesome.”

With programs that include auto repair, manufacturing and cyber security, Pine offers plenty of options.

Some two dozen Rush City High students ended up there on free Frandsen scholarships this year and applications are still rolling in for the fall.

The goal is to get more youngsters from greater Minnesota interested in continuing their education while building a better-rounded workforce outside of the metro.

“I would say it’s a game changer,” said Essen. “Especially for parents who didn’t go to college. This is their first experience going to college. It’s a huge game changer.”

For more information about Pine Tech's scholarships, visit their website