My Ridgewater Story – Justin Rademacher

The following post is Justin Rademacher’s Ridgewater Story.  Justin is a student in the Marketing and Sales Management program and authored the post.

In 2008 I was working at a hardware store as an assistant department manager making a little over $20,000 a year. I had moved up the ranks fairly quickly and was on track of being given more responsibility. I knew that the company had plans for me to eventually take over as the department manager within a year or so.  Even though I was on the “right track”, something was missing. I felt that I could do more, that I had a lot more potential that I haven’t obtained yet. After much consideration, I came to the conclusion that furthering my education would deliver me more opportunities.

The fall semester of 2009 began and I was beginning my time at a university up north. I started doing my generals knowing that I wanted to receive a degree in business. In doing my generals, one thing kept sticking out to me. The class sizes were huge and I wasn’t really getting the individualized help that I really needed. I began to wonder if this was the right choice for me. I thought about it a while longer and decided to finish up my generals and then look for another school that would more suit my needs and would focus my desire to success.

Spring semester 2010, I began my time with Ridgewater College in Hutchinson, MN. I have to say that by far it is the smartest decision I have ever made in my life to this point. I met with the marketing and sales management advisor prior to transferring and based on what I wanted and my personality, I decided this was the field I wanted to pursue.

Once classes began, I could tell right away this was the place for me. I had the individualized attention I needed, was learning the field that I wanted to be in, and I was offered many more opportunities than my previous college. I was received a PELL grant which decreased the size of my college debt.

Immediately I began getting involved by joining a group called DECA where I was able to participate nationally in marketing competitions. And now, I am the president of our local DECA chapter, I am a part of the Ambassador program, and I volunteer in the marketing department where my classroom skills are being applied.

The roads in life often take wild turns every now and then. I am not quite sure where my road will turn next, but I have every confidence that Ridgewater has provided the tools and opportunities for me to change my life.

Excellent Employees Make an Excellent College!

Several Ridgewater staff and faculty have recently been recognized by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (MnSCU) Board of Trustees for excelling in their job duties.

Two Faculty Honored as Outstanding Educators

Two members of Ridgewater’s faculty have been named by the Board of Trustees as Outstanding Educators for 2012. Dr. Allen Balay, chair of the Veterinary Technology department, and Shawn Mueske, Biology instructor, have both been bestowed with this honor.

Nominations for Outstanding Educator were made by students, faculty peers or staff, and were evaluated by a campus review committee before being submitted to the MnSCU Senior Vice Chancellor as Outstanding Educators by Ridgewater President Dr. Douglas Allen.  At the System level, a committee used detailed criteria in assessing Outstanding Educator portfolios and will make final recommendation of four Educator of the Year recipients, who are reviewed and approved by the Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees Educator of the Year Award for Excellence in Teaching program evaluates each nominee in the following areas:

  • Teaching strategies and materials
  • Content expertise and professional growth
  • Service to students, profession, institution, and system
  • Assessment of student learning and performance

Ridgewater Finance Team Receives Award

The Ridgewater College Finance team, led by Dan Holtz, Vice President of Finance and Operations and Cheryl Norlien, Director of Business Services, has been named as recipients of the 2011 Excellence in Financial Management Award in recognition of Ridgewater’s leadership and efforts in financial management.

This award is part of an awards program that was put in place in 1997 to recognize leadership and team effort for excellence in financial management and facilities management.  It also recognizes significant contributions and outstanding efforts of special employees at MnSCU colleges and universities.

Other members of the Finance team at Ridgewater include Teren Novotny, Karen Stulen, Shannon Mittag, Christine Gerding, Deb Wiprud, Audrey Harper, Jennifer Loeschen, and JoLynn Kosek.

Student Services Leaders Recognized

MnSCU leadership has also presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Ridgewater College and several key student services leaders for outstanding contributions to the system-wide Students First project, which has been instrumental in improving the student experience in the areas of admissions, financial aid, payment, and registration.

Recipients of this recognition include Kelli Kienitz, Registrar; Sally Kerfeld, Director of Admissions; Cheryl Norlien, Director of Business Services; and Jim Rice, Director of Financial Aid.

Congratulations to all of the recipients of these honors, and THANK YOU!  It’s because of your tremendous effort that our region is home to such a great college!

WWII Educational Tour: Final Days

Inconsistent Internet access slowed Mr. Nelson’s posts for a few days in the middle of the WWII Educational Tour, but we’re re-posting his last two posts from the trip.  It sounds like it was an unforgettable experience for all 28 participants! A big THANK YOU to Ridgewater History instructor Sam Nelson for taking time to post and allowing us to share it with all of you!
March 11, 2012
An Amazing Day


Owing to a hiccup in scheduling, we are in Caen one more night rather than taking the night ferry to Portsmouth.  That means we will take the ferry tomorrow morning but it also means I have Internet access tonight to provide a review of the day’s highlights.

We began the day at the Caen Memorial Museum, a fantastic interpretive overview of the war with special attention paid to its human cost.  Although the History Channel may seem to have covered every known World War II film, the museum had some astounding footage from German archives, French resistance film, and Russian material.  The combination of film, photographs, artifacts, and human stories was mounted in a compelling presentation.

The memorial’s closing film on the D-Day landing captured the artistry of the museum experience. It was a split screen film from both the German and Allied perspectives.  On one side of the screen were American and British forces preparing for the invasion (along with French resistance film) while on the other side were scenes from the German defense preparations.  The mounting intensity of the dual footage culminated with the landing after which the movie switched to a single film of the Germans strafing the landing beaches, thus combining the two sides into one.  Then, suddenly, the film switched to a present day overflying of the same beaches today…in peace.  Everyone was quite taken by the film technique.

We picked up our Normandy guide, Patricia, who let us through Pointe du Hoc, the American cemetery, and the port city of Arromanches.  Situated between the American landing beaches, Omaha and Utah, Pointe du Hoc

March 12, 2012
The Last Post

Owing to lack of Internet access, the last post was written a couple days ago though only posted yesterday.  Ah, the joys of the Internet. After a pleasant journey across the English Channel Saturday morning, our two days in London were packed with excitement.  Saturday night in London is an overload for the senses.  Picadilly Circus is indeed a circus–of people, smells, hustle and bustle.  We wandered the streets of London, feasted on fish and chips, and enjoyed the atmosphere of the world’s most international city (300 languages spoken here!).

Sunday began with an outstanding tour of the city.  Our tour guide, Nikki, was another excellent source of information and entertaining tidbits.  We saw the changing of the guard, a ceremonial ritual carried out with precision and reverence.  Our next stop was the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum.  The latter transported us back to the war years as we strolled through the actual bunker location where Churchill, et al. conducted the war.  The Churchill Museum provides a highly interactive biography, including artifacts (his cigar and satin sleepwear), high tech displays, vintage photos and recordings, and video of Churchill’s life.

Next stop, the Imperial War Museum, another great World War II experience.  Actual tanks, planes, rockets, artillery, and every other munition of war were on display.  The Holocaust exhibit provided an emotional coda to the trip.  Some of the travelers peeled off to visit the Tower of London, where they viewed the Crown Jewels, torture instruments, medieval weaponry and armour, and other pleasant reminders of the Dark Ages.

We concluded our journey with an Indian dinner (very typical in London) and celebration of our time together.  The group was fantastic to travel with and hopefully everyone will return with lifelong memories to share with you.




WWII Educational Tour: Day 1 – Munich

Here are some of the latest posts from Sam Nelson as he accopanies his group on Ridgewater’s WWII Educational Tour to Europe.

March 3, 2012


We are now in Paris after our overnight train excursion from Munich, an experience no one will ever forget!  To bring readers up-to-date, however, I’ll back up to yesterday (Sunday).  We began the day with a tour of Munich by bus with an expert local guide, Monika.  She highlighted the World War II related sites with special focus on the White Rose resistance movement led by the 21-year old student, Sophie Scholl.  It’s an amazing story of courage in the face of brutal repression by the Nazi regime, for which Scholl and her compatriots paid with their lives.  (A fine movie that tells the story is Sophie Scholl:  The Final Days.)

Our next stop was Neuschwanstein, the great castle of King Ludwig II after which the Disney castle is modeled.  The castle rose out of the misty day from its spectacular hilltop setting.  Everyone was impressed with its sheer size and the audacity of splendor that it emobodied, from running water to a phone system to the ornate woodwork of Ludwig’s bed for which a dozen plus woodcarvers were employed for over four years!

After returning from Neuschwanstein, our last stop in Germany was the famed beer hall, the Hofbrauhaus.  We were entertained by a band while enjoying authentic German sausage, kraut, etc. washed down by those of age with a liter stein of the German “king of beers!”

We’re off to the Louvre and Notre Dame then a night Seine River cruise and Eiffel Tower visit.  More tonight.

March 4, 2012

Guten Morgen!

Having difficulty uploading photos….  Will keep working on, but limited internet access until tomorrow evening may prevent an update until our next hotel–Paris tomorrow evening (night train tonight).  I’ll blog again as soon as I have access.

March 3, 2012

Day 1: Munich

This update brought to you by one tired traveler!  We’ve been up for 36 straight hours in order to orient our biological clocks to European time (7 hours ahead of Minnesota), but everyone has been real troopers .  After our brief hotel stop this morning, we proceeded into Munich with Martin and our expert coach driver, Werner.  We gathered on the Marienplatz in front of the Rathaus (city hall) with its impressive noon chimes and Glockenspiel, then everyone set off for lunch on their own.  Some sampled traditional German lunch at the open air market (sun came out with temps in the low 50s) while others found restaurants to soak up the Bavarian atmosphere.

Our World War II focus for the day was a visit to the Dachau concentration camp.  Everyone was affected by the experience in a personal and profound way, but all agreed that it is a sobering excursion that they will never forget.

We concluded the day with a delicious three-course meal at the Hacker-Pschorr Brauhaus.  Potato soup, pork, dumplings, and sauerkraut finished off with a sour berry dessert.  Those of age also sampled some of Munich’s most famous export.

I have pictures to upload, but I am bushed and so will tackle that task with fresh eyes in the morning.  I bid you guten abend!

Day 2 preview:  BMW museum, Munich city tour, Neuschwanstein (aka the Disney castle), and the Hofbrauhaus before boarding the night train for Paris.

Ridgewater Goes to Europe

Over the course of the next 10 days or so, we will be sharing some posts from Sam Nelson, Ridgewater history instructor, as he accompanies a group on a World War II: Victory in Europe educational tour.

The group is spending 10 days at the beginning of March on the tour, where they will be learning first-hand about historic places from WWII such as Dachau, Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Caen Memorial, Normandy Beaches, D-Day Museum, and the Churchill War Rooms.

Here is Mr. Nelson’s first post.

29, 2012

Predeparture Meeting

Some tasty treats!

Tonight we had our bon voyage party to review final departure details while sampling a variety of European fare representing the four countries we’ll be visiting.

  • Germany:  Homemade sausage and sauerkraut (courtesy of Paul)
  • England:  Scones with clotted cream “light” and real English marmalade (courtesy of Ruth)
  • Belgium:  Belgian chocolate (courtesy of Mr. B’s)
  • France: A variety of French delights including oven baked flat bread, croissants,
    Sampling the goodies!

    open face baguette bites, macaroons, and sorbet (courtesy of Trader Joe’s!)

We’ll board our “charter”(!) bus with driver Al at the wheel on Friday at 7 a.m. Departure from MSP International Airport is scheduled for 12:34 p.m. on United Airlines flight # 3515.  After a brief layover at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. we’ll board United flight # 902 at 5:31 p.m. with a scheduled arrival in Munich at 7:35 a.m. on Saturday.  We’ll hook up with our tour director Martin and immediately begin our adventure!. More to come!