Schools I’ve Attended – Metropolitan State University

St. Paul, Minnesota – 1984-1986

My Life
Those Places Thursday
By Don Taylor

Working full time to support a family necessitated my finding a college that supported working adults. Metropolitan State University (Metro State) did that and more. Besides offering courses in the evenings and Saturdays, it allowed students to design their degree plan. I had the desire to become an attorney. As such, I thought I should follow a pre-law type of curriculum, so I designed a degree plan heavy in political science, speaking, and writing.

Particularly Interesting Classes

Chaminade University in Hawaii had proven to be a fantastic place to take Marine Biology and Oceanography. I needed another science course for my degree plan so took meteorology at Metro State. Few places have more diverse weather than Minnesota, so it was great learning about the weather there. Another enjoyable class was “Acting for Non-actors.” I learned how hard it is for me to memorize lines, but I had lots of energy.

Sometimes there is a class that will completely change your life and that class was “Non-fiction Writing.” I’ll never forget that class nor its instructor, Dana Noonan.

The premise of the class was simple enough; students needed to write several magazine quality articles during the class. The difficulty with that was that Ms. Noonan required her students to write then rewrite, and rewrite again, and again until the quality was magazine quality. My papers came back with red “Awk” (awkward) and circles of problems, which require a rewrite.  It was a grueling task in the days of typewriters and I couldn’t keep up with the work. It was one of the most challenging classes I ever had. To keep up with the rewrites, I purchased my first computer, a Commodore 64, word processing software and a printer. With it, instead of retyping the entire article and introducing new typos, I was able just to update the work I did previously and resubmit my significantly improved article. The computer revolutionized my work processes.  I found I could use it to do a host of things. Soon, I upgraded to an IBM computer before long and used the computer for everything I could.

Commodore 64 – Photo by the NerdPatrol via Flickr. (CC 2.0)

When my work office decided to purchase personal computers for office automation, I became a computer “helper.” At that time, I worked as a Quality Assurance Engineering Technician. My job required reviewing change requests then approving or disproving those waivers and deviations as appropriate for the Navy at the Navy Plant Representative Office (NAVPRO) in Fridley, MN. In the back room, we had a Wang 2200 minicomputer. In my work, I needed a program which would track those changes. The existing staff didn’t have time to program the computer for me, so I asked for access to the computer to develop a program that would track those changes.  Because I was already a computer helper person, they gave me the appropriate access. I developed a simple program that worked for me. Then was asked by some other folks if I could put something together for them, which I did. My programs, although simple, always worked. I also took a couple of computer science classes at Metro State to help me understand more about computers. A few months later I was asked if I would be interested in moving over to the Computer Team full time. Being a “can do” kind of person, I said, “Same pay? Sure, why not.” I was happy to work wherever they could use me the best.

I never returned to Quality Assurance, but rather continued as a Computer Specialist then on to Information Technology Specialist.

I received my bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University in December 1986. My personally designed degree was in “Governmental Policy and Decision-Making Processes” as a subset of Political Science.

I doubt I ever would have made the shift from Quality Assurance to Computer Support and Information Technology if it weren’t for Metropolitan State University, “Non-fiction Writing,” Dana Noonan, and that first computer I owned, a Commodore 64.

 

Schools I’ve Attended – Anoka-Ramsey Community College

1981-1982

My Life
Those Places Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.

I applied to and was accepted at Anoka-Ramsey Community College (ARCC). ARCC was close to home, only 3 miles away so it was easy to work days, come home and eat, then go off to school for evening classes and the occasional Saturday class. I also received a nice stipend from the government based upon my ½ time class load. All my classwork with Chapman College and Chaminade College transferred, so I was nearly a year ahead of the game.

I was able to take some fun classes at Anoka-Ramsey.  I needed another science course for my degree requirements and was able to take Meteorology at Anoka-Ramsey.  What could be better than taking Marine Biology and Oceanography in Hawaii, and Meteorology in Minnesota? It was cool. Freshman English Comp was a drain on my time and resources, but I got through it. I understand it was much more personalized at a Community College than it might be at many larger universities, something I am grateful for or I may never have gotten through.

Apple II – Photo by Rama & Musée Bolo [CeCILL or CC BY-SA 2.0 fr ], via Wikimedia Commons

Computers were relatively new in 1981-2; I had a Psychology professor that utilized the new technology to its greatest.  He gave his students all the questions and all the answers for his mid-term and the final. When we took the actual tests, the questions were a subset of what he gave us and the answers were jumbled up. The professor thought Psych 101 was all about learning and knowing the terms and his method helped assure that students knew them. It seemed strange at the time but makes a lot of sense now.

I wasn’t involved in any sports or extra-curricular activities at ARCC; I was too busy working and providing for my wife and my step-daughter. I was also involved with my community and a commissioner on the city’s Economic Development Commission. I had aspirations to run for City Council and took three courses in real estate at ARCC so I’d know more about the processes of Zoning, Planning, and Real Estate transactions.

Anoka-Ramsey Community College - 2017 Aspen Prize Top 10 Finalist
2017 Aspen Prize Top 10 Finalist

Since I attended, Anoka Ramsey has added another campus in Cambridge, Minnesota. It is a well-known and well-respected community college in the area. It was a top 10 finalist for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.

I went Anoka-Ramsey (half-time) for nearly two years and received an Associate of Arts from them in December 1982.