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Improving their part of the world earns recognition for Northeast grads

Improving their part of the world earns recognition for Northeast grads

NORFOLK, Neb. – It was easy this week to feel inspired.

Northeast Community College recognized alumni who have served and given back in a variety of ways from helping to keep the residents of Norfolk safe to helping to preserve a Native American language.

Their inspirational stories were shared at the 2023 Achievement Awards ceremony held Monday, Oct. 2, in the Lifelong Learning Center, with various other honors also presented.

The Alumni Hall of Success Honorees were Amanda Carlow, Pine Ridge, S.D.; Tim Wragge, Battle Creek; and Don Miller, Norfolk. Northeast President Leah Barrett introduced the honorees.

Carlow graduated from Northeast Community College in 2001 with an Associate of Arts Degree in Behavioral Science. She currently serves as Director of Adult Lakota Language Instruction at the Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, S.D.

Carlow spoke in her native language after accepting the Hall of Success Award.

“My Lakota name is High Star Woman and my English name is Amanda Carlow,” she said.

Carlow is originally from Pine Ridge and currently resides at East Dam, S.D. “I did not grow up speaking Lakota Language,” she said. “I do not want to offend anyone and so forgive me if I say something wrong.”

During her time at Northeast, Carlow was able to meet a lot of people, playing basketball and traveling. She offered thanks to her coaches, who always encouraged her, and her teammates, who she remembered having good times with and laughing. But she held special appreciation for her family.

“My siblings who I always wanted to be like and anytime we had a competition I always wanted to beat,” Carlow said. “Between all of you and mom and dad I was able to work hard in school and in sports. They help me in whichever way I depend on them. You helped me to believe in myself.”

Carlow said she felt humbled by the honor. She has a son, Riyen, daughters, Ashlan, and Kai’milla, and a grandson, Damon. 

“Just a girl from the rez, it doesn't matter what you want to do or where you are from. Know who you are and work hard. Thank you,” she said.

Miller earned an Associate of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement from Northeast – with honors – in 1995. He has risen through the ranks of the Norfolk Police Division to the position he holds today, Chief of Police.

Miller, who is a New Ulm, Minn., native, was hired by the Norfolk Police Division in 1990. As the police chief, he oversees 41 certified police officers and 21 civilian support staff. Miller said he underwent a transition while he was at Northeast.

“I will never take my education for granted at Northeast,” Miller said. “I had some great instructors.”

While at Northeast, Miller said he found new appreciation for history. Initially, he took a class because it was a prerequisite, but then discovered it was quite interesting. It helped him change how he views history.

“They said if we don’t know our history, we’re going to repeat it,” he said. “I believe it.”

Northeast also helped Miller overcome his fear of public speaking, he said.

“There was a time when you couldn’t have dragged me on a stage like this… I credit the college and the college instructors for getting me through those initial stages (of fear),” Miller said.

Miller and his wife, Theresa, have a son, Dylan, and a daughter, Nicole, who is a sophomore in the Northeast nursing program. The Millers also have two grandchildren, Oaklee and Dakota.

Wragge attended Southeast Community College’s Fire Science Program after graduating from Plainview High School and then began his career with the Norfolk Fire Division in December 2002.

In 2010, he received his Associate of Applied Science degree in EMT-Paramedic from Northeast. He became Assistant Norfolk Fire Chief in 2015 and was promoted to Fire Chief in 2021.

Wragge said he remembers his paramedic class as a small group of students who came from all walks of life. They shared a lot and became friends, which helped to build relationships that he maintains when their paths cross.

While he always wanted to be a firefighter growing up, but it wasn’t until he was about 20 years old going out on a lot of calls that he realized “85% of the calls had nothing to do with fighting fires,” Wragge said.

He learned that becoming a paramedic was a must, and that’s where Northeast helped him.

“I had phenomenal instructors (at Northeast) and a solid team at Norfolk Fire to help me get my training,” he said.

Wragge gives credit to those he work with now and would put Norfolk firefighters’ skills up against anyone.

“The good thing for me is that I inherited an amazing group of people who could run that place without me,” he said.

Wragge and his wife, Erin, have two children, M.J. and Britlee.

Others who were honored were Marlene Johnson, West Point, and Bryan Rentschler, Atkinson. Finally, nominees for the Nebraska Community College Association Awards were presented to Julie Robinson (Governors’ Award), Shelley Lammers (Administrator’s Award) and Lisa Guenther (Faculty Award).

Achievement Awards cutline

Northeast Community College’s new inductees into its Hall of Success are (from left) Norfolk Fire Chief Tim Wragge; Amanda Carlow, director of Adult Lakota Language Instruction at Mahpiya Lute Owayawa; and Norfolk Police Chief Don Miller. (Northeast Community College)