Kerri Gibilisco, of Omaha, received her degree in veterinary technology in 1998, along with other students who enrolled in 1996 for that first class.
“I never felt like an experiment,” Gibilisco said. “The program was well structured from the very beginning, and the instructors knew what they were doing.”
Gibilisco said she always wanted to be a veterinarian.
“That was my plan before I was conceived,” she joked, but math and science were not her strong suit. “I was sitting in my high school counselor’s office in Gretna, looking at college catalogs,” the former Kerri Sederavicius explained, “and I saw the listing for vet tech at Northeast. It was a perfect fit for me.”
Gibilisco checked out other programs in the state, including a college in Omaha that no longer exists. She said she visited Northeast with her mom and sister and met Dr. Michael Cooper, director of the program.
“I loved the campus right away.” The Northeast vet tech program was tough, Gibilisco said. “The instructors treated us like adults. They didn’t coddle us.”
In addition to a full schedule of classes, Gibilisco and the other students were expected to work in the clinic and kennels, caring for animals.
“I prefer the nursing care that a vet tech provides to the work I see veterinarians doing,” she said. “This was definitely the right choice for me. I would do it again.”
After graduation, Gibilisco worked for more than 20 years at the Pet Clinic PC in Omaha. During that time, she earned specialties in nutrition and behavior as well as her Fear Free Level Two certification and was able to apply those skills in her work. She then had the opportunity to move into management at the Ridgeview Animal Hospital, but quickly discovered that she missed working directly with animals. Gibilisco is currently taking a short break from vet tech work to raise her daughter, but plans to return to the profession soon.
“I have always sworn by the training I received at Northeast and the education I received from Dr. Cooper and the other instructors.”
Gibilisco said her two years at Northeast cost approximately $12,000. She later worked with students who attended the Omaha college who paid about $35,000 for their training and did not seem to be as well prepared for vet tech work as she was.
As a member of Northeast’s first vet tech class, Gibilisco took her classes in a 1920s-era repurposed dairy barn, the same facilities used by students in 2020. But beginning in the fall of 2021, vet tech students will learn in a new clinic and classroom building, part of the first phase of the Nexus project.
In addition to the veterinary technology building, the initial phase of construction includes a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk. Site work began in April and construction should be completed by the Fall of 2021.
The funding for the agriculture facilities will come from the College’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. With a total project cost of $22.3 million, the College has raised enough funds to begin construction; however, fundraising for the Nexus campaign will continue, as more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings.
In August 2019, the Acklie Charitable Foundation (ACF) announced a $5 million lead gift to the Nexus project. ACF was founded by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.
For more information on the Nexus Campaign, contact Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (402) 844-7056. Online donations may be made through agwaternexus.com.
Checks may also be mailed to Nexus Campaign, Northeast Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, NE 68702-0469.
PHOTO ID: Kerri Gibilisco (in the late 1990s).