May 02, 2018

On Thursday, April 19, Century College celebrated “Transforming Lives for 50 Years”, capping off a year-long commemoration of  the College’s first half century with a gala dinner and fundraiser.   The amazing evening began with beautiful piano performance by Century student Mathew Waller. Guests were invited to mingle, grab drinks, buy raffle tickets, get their pictures taken by photography students (from the VCT program), and enjoy the Career Pathways and Century history displays.

At 6 pm, Century College Foundation Executive Director Jill Greenhalgh thanked all sponsors of the event.  President Angelia Millender welcomed the audience to the 50th Anniversary Celebration. A fantastic dinner was then presented to attendees, complete with live entertainment performed by three talented students. During dinner, students Myles Cuchar and Xiong Moua wowed the audience with acrobatic breakdancing. Deepa Ghalley capped off the entertainment with a mesmerizing Nepali dance performance. 

The Program Commences

Following dinner, the program commenced with Greenhalgh unveiling the first of several surprises to the audience – a video greeting by Senator Amy Klobuchar. Klobuchar congratulated Century on 50 years, and said that though she would much rather be at the ceremony in person, there’s just a few things going on in Washington, which drew big laughs from the attendees.

Following Senator Klobuchar’s greeting, the Emcee of the evening, Nora Slawik, Mayor of Maplewood, took the stage. She introduced Vice President Michael Berndt and Muskie Tank founder Jim Mishek. Century College’s Muskie Tank Challenge program awards aspiring student entrepreneurs with scholarships. In another surprise of the evening, two finalists tied for first place; Charles Georgi and Kyle Trepanier, both majoring in Additive Digital Manufacturing, each received the $5,000 scholarship grand prize award.

After the finalists were brought to the stage and the winners were announced, Slawik unveiled the evening’s next surprise – a special video looking back at Century’s growth and impact over the past 50 years entitled “Century College: Past, Present, & Future.”

This rousing video provided a segue to the program’s first speaker, Joe McKenzie, a 1988 alum of Century and founder of Ripple Connects Inc. McKenzie recounted his time at Century as an undecided student, detailing how Century faculty gave him the confidence and skills to uncover his potential as an entrepreneur.

Next to take the stage was auctioneer Leeann Vandekamp, who conducted the live auction for prizes such as a White Bear Lake cruise for 60 people, three dinners hosted by President Millender and her husband, and an afternoon in the FabLab. All proceeds go to the Century College Foundation to support scholarships and student success.

An Inspiring Conclusion

The last speaker of the night, Century student Rosetta Peters, was introduced after the auction. Peters shared her story of perseverance and overcoming obstacles that was truly inspiring, bringing many in the audience to tears.  Peters found her true calling at Century College, discovering her talent and passion for writing.

Rosetta’s powerful story preceded the second giving moment of the evening, the “Fund a Need” auction, with all proceeds again going toward the Century College Foundation. The outpouring of support was remarkable, with a number of attendees making donations of $2,500, $1,000, $500, and $100 dollars.

Following the auction was a raffle drawing led by Kate Christopher, chair of the Century College Foundation board of directors. Participants won, among other prizes, a 40” flat-screen TV, a “mountain of beer,” and a “wall of wine.”

President Millender arrived at the podium to unveil the evening’s final, and biggest, surprise – a $25,000 gift for an endowed scholarship from the Pratt Family Fund at InFaith Community Foundation. The pledge was made by the trustee for the fund, Century College employee Charlotte Nordstrom, who is the daughter of the Pratts. With Nordstrom at her side, President Millender raised her glass and led the audience in a toast to the future.

“It’s been an incredible 50 years,” said President Millender. “Here’s to 50 more!”

Over $100,000 was raised at the event.

Thank you to all the foundation staff, board, faculty, staff, students and special guests who made this event a huge success.