NCTC Names Students and Alumnus of the Year

Northland Community & Technical College (NCTC) Thief River Falls campus has named the Students and Alumnus of the Year. NCTC named Cheyenne Woods and Toriana Mekash as the Students of the Year. Dr. Carl Dahlen has been named Alumnus of the Year.

Cheyenne Woods is graduating with Highest Honors from NCTC with an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts. Cheyenne graduated from Bemidji High School with honors and many athletic achievements in 2014.

While attending, she played for the NCTC Pioneer volleyball and basketball teams. In volleyball, she was selected as player of the week, and earned second team All-State, and was a two-time All-Academic winner. For basketball, she made the Northern Division All-defensive team, was a two-time All-Academic team winner and part of the NJCAA Division III runner-up team. According to advisor Jason Pangiarella, “She is a role model for other female student athletes and continues to call them to achieve more and never settle for average.”

Cheyenne is an excellent representative of NCTC on the court and in the classroom. Ruth Christensen, NCTC faculty member, added, “Cheyenne is a kind person who treats others with respect. I have had her in several of my classes and found her work to be excellent, analytical and thought provoking. She is a valuable participant in classroom discussion and demonstrates maturity and thoughtfulness.”

Cheyenne plans to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead to pursue a degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Mathematics. She is the daughter of Carey and Penny Woods of Bemidji, MN.

Tori Mekash is graduating with Highest Honors from NCTC with an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts. She graduated with honors in 2014 from Greenbush-Middle River High School where she held numerous titles and received many awards and distinctions for her work in the classroom, in leadership, and through athletics.

While attending NCTC, Tori played for the NCTC Pioneers in volleyball and basketball. She was volleyball captain in the 2015 season and basketball captain in the 2015-2016 season. In basketball, she was part of the All-MCAC First team, All-Northern Division First Team, and All Region XIII. Coach Shannon Nelson said of Tori, “She is a tireless worker who continually strives to be her best at all endeavors. She is an excellent leader who her teammates looked to in tough times. She is an excellent representative of NCTC and Thief River Falls at a local and national level, and serves as a positive role model to young people in the community.”

She also excelled in the classroom and was a math and science tutor for the fall 2015 semester. Nelson added, “She is everything that we would like our students and student-athletes to strive to be. Between her excellence in the classroom and in the athletic realm, she will do great things after she leaves us here at NCTC.”

Tori plans to continue her education at Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD. She plans to major in Biology Education and continue her basketball career. Tori is the daughter of Dale and Shellie Mekash of Greenbush, MN.

Dr. Carl Dahlen was named the Alumnus of the Year. Dahlen graduated from NCTC in the spring of 1997 with an Associate of Arts degree. While at Northland, he was involved in the community band and a member of Phi Theta Kappa. After completing his Northland degree, he attended the University of Minnesota and graduated with a B.S. in Animal and Plant Systems, and a M.S. in Ruminant Nutrition and Reproductive Physiology.

From 2002 to 2010, Dahlen served as the Livestock Coordinator at the University of Minnesota’s Northwest Research and Outreach Center in Crookston, while concurrently working to attain a Ph.D. degree. Dahlen joined the faculty at North Dakota State University as a Beef Cattle Extension Specialist in 2010. His research program is focused on beef cattle management, nutrition, and the implementation of reproductive technologies into commercial beef herds.

Dahlen has also been instrumental in developing innovative training methods that empower county, area, and state Extension personnel and industry representatives to better serve their beef-producing clientele. Recently, Dr. Dahlen received the 2016 Midwest Outstanding Young Extension Specialist Award. His wife Roberta and their sons, Arthur and Lyle, support Dahlen’s efforts.

Northland Community and Technical College (NCTC) 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 degrees (A.A.S., A.S., A.A.) in more than 80 areas of study, workforce training and education programs. NCTC is a member of Minnesota State, the fourth-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. NCTC is an affirmative action, equal opportunity educator and employer. For more information about Northland Community & Technical College, visit or call 1.800.959.6282.