NORFOLK, NE - Northeast Community College has honored an area woman for her service to the institution. Mary Lauritzen was presented with Northeast’s Distinguished Service Award during the College’s annual Achievement Awards ceremony at the Lifelong Learning Center on the Norfolk campus recently.
The recognition is presented to individuals who have demonstrated active service to higher education and who have played a significant role in the development of Northeast Community College.
Lauritzen, of West Point, has been a vocal advocate of Northeast Community College, in particular, with its work in east central Nebraska through its extended campus in her hometown. She is a believer of the Nebraska community college mission of providing efficient, hands-on training at an affordable price for students who are eager to join the workforce in a short period of time.
Lauritzen is a retired clinic manager of the Family Vision Center, P.C. of West Point, and previously worked in retail sales, management and banking. She is a former national president of the American Foundation for Vision Awareness, former board member of the Auxiliary to the American Optometric Association, has served as president of the Nebraska Foundation for Children's Vision, and is the at large member of the board of the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education.
Lauritzen said the work of Northeast Community College in West Point has had an incredible impact on the region. She said as an area employer, extended campus advisory board member and a member of the community, she has witnessed Northeast’s influence from a variety of perspectives.
“I have seen the impact of Northeast in an area of the state that has underserved students and place bound students. But in that population the completion rate for high school has improved considerably, and the onset of dual credit and accessibility to Northeast Community College have changed the scope of life for so many kids who would not, otherwise, have that opportunity.”
She also credited the West Point extended campus for providing education to Cuming County’s shifting workforce demands, identifying and responding to the cultural interests of the community and for increasing the area’s college attendance rate.
“Northeast has shown adaptability, creativity, flexibility and a keen instinct that has made it a major force in the ongoing progress and positive growth in the daily life of northeast Nebraska,” she said.
Lauritzen championed the most recent work in West Point – the establishment of the Donald E. Nielsen Career and Technical Education Center.
“It’s a dream come true,” she said. “We have identified that there are jobs in Nebraska, so let’s train those kids to do the jobs that Nebraska needs. We can identify with that through a program such as P2T (Pathways to Tomorrow). All of these things are cooking and then this initiative happens, which is awesome because this can address everything that we are concerned about.”
Lauritzen said there is also a need to help elementary school students identify what they may want to do with their lives and provide them opportunities through career pathways. She said a program such as that will provide them the opportunity to learn what it is they like in the area of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“You take a kid who hates to be in school, find the thing they like to do and then suddenly, they’re excited and evolve into a whole (new person). It’s the first time all of these things have been addressed in one place. And the coolest part of all - it’s happening here. This is the model.”
“Mary Lauritzen understands the value of a community college education and the workforce development training opportunities that are associated with it,” said Mary Honke, co-interim president at Northeast. “Northeast Community College is most fortunate to have her endorsement as it continues its work of training the current and next generation of this region’s workforce.
Lauritzen has also served on the board of Nebraska's Anne Batchelder Excellence in Public Service Series, a leadership development program for politically active women. She serves in many areas as a community volunteer, including as a member of the West Point Community Theatre Board of Directors and has served as chapter president of the P.E.O Sisterhood, among others.
The Distinguished Service award was presented to Lauritzen by Honke and Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs at Northeast.
Mary Lauritzen, of West Point, speaks during Northeast Community College’s annual Achievement Awards ceremony recently where she was presented with the institution’s Distinguished Service award. The recognition is presented to individuals who have demonstrated active service to higher education and who have played a significant role in the development of Northeast Community College.