Northland Community & Technical College Announces Student & Alumnus of the Year for 2014

Northland Community & Technical College is pleased to announce the 2014 Student of the Year and Alumnus of the Year. This year the Student of the Year award is being given to Nick Dokkin. The Alumnus of the Year is Norm Halsa.

Nick Dokkin
Student of the Year
Nick Dokkin is a 2012 graduate of Lincoln High School. His college education started out while he was in High School at Lincoln when he enrolled in the PSEO program his senior year. At NCTC, he was able to start college classes early and get a college-level experience while he was still in high school. He says that this is something for which he is truly grateful. In his second year attending Northland Community and Technical College, he found himself actively involved in Phi Theta Kappa, Student Ambassadors, and Student Senate, in which he held the Vice President position
for the Thief River Falls campus.

While Nick was at Northland, he took pride in seeking out scholarships and applying for them all. He was awarded many large scholarships while attending his first two years of college. “All you can do is just apply!” Nick said. Because scholarships have been important in Nick’s life, he hopes to one day develop a scholarship of his own to give back to the community. Outside of school-related activities, Nick loves spending time with his family and friends. He particularly enjoys time at the lake with them—something that he considers nearly unbeatable. Although Nick’s interests are varied, he is particularly interested in technology and the ways it is being implemented into our classrooms and our lives as we move into the future.

Learning and education are very important to Nick; therefore, he is currently working toward earning a Higher Education/Administration degree. Nick will graduate with his Liberal Arts degree with Highest Honors. After graduating from Northland, Nick will transfer to the University of North Dakota to continue his education. Nick says that he is grateful for all the experiences he has had and the people he has met and worked with over the last two years at Northland; these have made “doing college” so much easier, he says.

Nick is the son of Brenda Dokkin and Trent Collins of Thief River Falls, MN.

Norm Halsa
Alumnus of the Year
Norm Halsa is a 1975 graduate of the Automotive Service Technology program at Northland (formerly Thief River Falls AVTI). His course load prepared him for a lifelong career in the automotive field. Halsa was the first graduate of the program to pass all eight ASE tests for Master Technician status. Tested every five years from the first testing, he still maintains the Master Technician plus an additional area in Advanced Engine Performance.

Halsa went to work at Thomas Motors in January of 1975 as an automotive technician. In July of 1977 he was promoted to service manager. Halsa was hired as a full-time substitute by school district 564 in November of 1978 to fill a position for an automotive mechanics instructor who was ill. The position was the beginning of a 36-year teaching career. Many changes have taken place within the program under his direction. The program has progressed from hour-based to quarter credits to semester credits over the years. Halsa wrote the first documents so the Automotive Service Technology program could be inspected under national standards for accreditation. The program has been evaluated every five years to maintain NATEF certification. He has served on many committees within the college and for many years served as the advisor for Skills USA-VICA.

Along with his wife Jodi, Norm has been a platinum-level supporter of Northland’s Foundation for many years. Halsa is a past president of MTTIA, an organization that provides summer train-the-trainer activities for automotive instructors in Minnesota and surrounding States. As a Vietnam era veteran, Halsa has been a member of American Legion Post 117 for 41 years.

Halsa has been active in faculty associations throughout his career. He served both local- and state-level positions, recently being elected to the position of Vice President for Technical for the Minnesota State College Faculty organization.
Norm and Jodi have five grown children, all of whom have attended Northland Community and Technical College. Norm and Jodi have been blessed with 10 beautiful grandchildren.

Northland Community and Technical College is a comprehensive college with campuses in Thief River Falls, MN and East Grand Forks, MN. NCTC also has an aerospace site in Thief River Falls, MN and a satellite site in Roseau, MN. NCTC offers certificates, diplomas, transfer courses, two-year AAS degrees in more than 60 areas of study, workforce training and education programs. NCTC is a member of Minnesota State, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. NCTC is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer & educator. For more information about Northland Community & Technical College, visit or call 1.800.959.6282.