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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Alumni Stories

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micah dorphner

Micha Dorfner, Mayo Clinic Health System, Public Affairs and Marketing 

The Mass Media program at Minnesota State University, Mankato has been invaluable to my career. The benefit hasn't just been in the form of receiving a qualifying degree, but affording me the skills to prove myself in a real-world work environment. Classes in the program helped hone my writing, researching and strategic thinking abilities. Additionally, having access to the resources of expert faculty and extracurricular activities, like the student-run PR firm, set me up for success.

I'm currently a Public Affairs and Marketing Account Coordinator at Mayo Clinic Health System. My duties include media relations, advertising, crisis communication, strategic communication planning and social media. I've been in this role for three years, starting as an intern for two months after graduating from MNSU. Without my education through the Mass Media program, I wouldn't be where I am today.


Dana Sikila

Dana Sikkila, 410 Project Mankato, Executive Director

Dana Sikkila grew up in Litchfield MN, a small rural community located in west central Minnesota. After graduating high school Dana moved to Mankato, MNto pursue a degree in the Arts. After finishing her undergrad she moved forward to graduate school,and in 2012 Dana graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato with a Master of Arts degree with an emphasis in Printmaking. She is currently the Executive Director of the 410 Project, a volunteer managed art gallery and experimental space located in downtown Mankato that grants opportunities for artists in all stages of their careers to exhibit and sell their work. Dana started volunteering at the 410 Project in 2009.

Each year after that she took on more responsibility and learned the process of how a gallery worked, so that in 2012 when the then executive director stepped down, she was able to take over the role. Over these last two years she has been able to assist younger artists in understanding their work, and how to professionally ignite their artistic career. Helping others motivates her to be a positive role model for younger artists. To help reach out to the community, Dana has established art classes for youth and adults. These have been a great success, and serve as a catalyst for newcomers to the gallery. The classes are offered for free so anyone can participate.

Dana is also the Artistic Director and creator of Black Water Press. Black Water Press serves as a community-supported printmaking center that focuses on presenting printmaking techniques to the greater Mankato area. Outside of her 40 hour a week job at Taylor Corporation, as well as teaching introductory art classes at Minnesota State University, Mankato,she spends around 30 (volunteer) hours a week running both of these organizations by hanging shows,scheduling, teaching classes, and working with artists just to name a few.

To go along with all her outstanding work with the 410 Project. Dana has been recognized with a Jefferson Good People Award from KEYC for the month of October, 2013. This award is giving to members of the Mankato community who have shown exceptional leadership and volunteer skills that benefit those around them. Most recently, she has been nominated to, and accepted a spot as a representative on Mankato's Livability Council. This is a group comprised of five people with a goal to make Greater Mankato an attractive and livable community. Dana represents Arts and Culture, and with that, is a direct link to the city of Mankato. Dana is a hard worker who thrives on the success of those around her. She is driven and focused, and wants nothing more than to see Arts and Culture within Mankato to flourish for years to come.

Max Pruden

Max Pruden, Intuit, Senior Instructional Designer

I'm outspoken, glib, sometimes witty, and an inveterate communicator. I thrive on understanding, whether it's helping someone understand me, or serving as the path between someone and something. I live in Phoenix with my wife and stepdaughter, a nervous dog, and a well-used coffee cup. For down time, I love to read, and I'm a particular fan of historical fiction (authors such as Patrick O'Brian) or Science Fiction and Fantasy (authors such as Dan Simmons, Vernor Vinge, and Connie Willis). I'm also happiest when I can play creatively or constructively: photography, aviation, history, computer games, and travel.

I finished my online program at MSU (MA English) with an emphasis in Technical Communications) in December 2014. I'm so glad I chose this program! The instructors, students, and classes were all high-quality,and all contributed to a fantastic experience. More importantly, I feel that I learned a lot about topics that are directly relevant to the work I do every day. The experience was so positive that I'm preparing to take the GRE so that I can continue my graduate studies to a terminal degree. (No, I mean a Ph.D., not that my next degree will kill me.)

I currently work at home for a large personal financial services company, where I create instructional and departmental documentation and associated content as a Sr. Instructional Designer. However, I am a 25-year veteran of the Silicon Valley technology scene,where I've worked as a web developer, technical writer, desktop support manager, Mac guru, instructional designer, content manager, and database developer. I hope to add some adjunct teaching experience soon, as well.


Allison Heard

Allison Heard, Teacher, Austin, MN

As an English student at MSU, I was afforded the opportunity to work with world class professors in a setting that was made for learning. I was provided with knowledge, skills, and unique perspectives that made my college experience both educational and engaging. The knowledge I gained at MSU has prepared me for my current career as a high school teacher in Austin, MN. Currently, I teach Language Arts for 10th grade as well as RCC Humanities and RCC Freshman English, which are offered at the high school in partnership with our local community college. I am also pursuing a Master's in Education, and I know that the skills gained during my time at MSU will make me extremely successful.