DXATC Student of the Year finds hope, future for her family

DXATC pharmacy technician program director Linda Duke with Student of the Year Kasidi Havens and Havens' daughter smile at the DXATC student of the year luncheon and presentation, St. George, Utah, Nov. 18, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Dixie Applied Technology College held their student appreciation day Tuesday at which students and staff as well as board members and sponsors were treated to lunch, prizes and the announcement of Student of the Year for one deserving student.

The Student of the Year program is a competition that is held in the local institution between the students, DXATC President Kelle Stephens said.

Students wishing to be considered for the honor had to undergo a rigorous process which included being interviewed by a campus selection committee, preparing a speech and writing an essay addressing the topic: “Why I chose career and technical education and how I will use it to better my life.”

The students were asked to improve skills and meet the following criteria:

  • Students must meet minimum program standards
  • Students have to prove competent in their specified area of training
  • Students will have to sharpen their interviewing skills and interpersonal communication
  • Students will have to write essays and improve writing skills
  • Students will have to present to large groups and improve presentation skills

Students that applied were narrowed down to a group of finalists who had to present to faculty and staff, Stephens said, and from there they selected two finalists with the winner being announced at Tuesday’s luncheon.

“All of our students are incredible. In their own way they are all student of the year,” Stephens said, “but this student will represent the DXATC in the community for the next year.”

In addition to acting as a representative of DXATC, the student of the year received a check from Zions Bank for $1,000 and will go on to compete against students from all of Utah’s applied technology schools for the title of Utah College of Applied Technology’s Student of the Year and the opportunity of a two-year lease on a car or a cash prize.

The two finalists for the title this year were Madisson Gugelman and Kasidi Havens. Gugelman took the first runner-up prize and received a check for $500 while Havens walked away with the award and $1,000.

This year’s winner, Havens, is a single mother of four. After receiving her award Havens addressed the crowd and recounted the story of how she came to be a student at DXATC.

About a year ago, Havens said, she found herself in a situation where her marriage of eight years had ended and she now was a single mother. Though she had completed an associate degree, she knew that her wages with that degree would never be enough to support her family, she said.

“Working full-time, with minimum wage,” Havens said, “I would barely cover my daycare.”

There would be no money left for additional expenditures like rent or food, Havens said, and she was losing sleep and experiencing added stress.

After she was introduced to and accepted into DXATC, Havens said, she could finally sleep again because there was hope in her future for herself and her family. She said:

I am just excited because this is something that I have become passionate about over my time, the options available for people in our community, for people like myself because if there is one, me, there’s got to be more. I know that this is so important to our community, there is a gap in our community of people who need this education. So I am excited to promote the school and hopefully help other people become successful and have a life.

Havens works at Stapely Pharmacy on the weekends and spends her weekdays, she said, being with her kids while they are kids.

In addition to cash prizes given to the two finalists, DXATC gave $2,500 worth of classroom funding to the program director whose student won student of the year: pharmacy technician program director Linda Duke.

Duke sees about 28-32 students per year go through her pharmacy technician program and said she was very surprised and pleased to receive the funding.

“We need the money for the program,” Duke said. “We already know where we are going to spend it.”

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