NCTC Names Student and Alumnus of the Year

Kevin Evans has been named Student of the Year and Houston Kirkeide has been named Alumnus of the Year.

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. - Northland Community & Technical College (NCTC) Thief River Falls campus has named the Student and Alumnus of the Year. NCTC named Kevin Evans as the Student of the Year. Houston Kirkeide has been named Alumnus of the Year.

Kevin Evans is a 2015 graduate of Southlake High School located in Groveland, Florida. While in high school, Kevin participated in multiple sports, including football, basketball and track. His favorite sport was football, which is the sport he continued to play at the college level. Kevin decided to play football at Northland while pursuing his Associate in Arts degree. Kevin earned Minnesota College Athletic Conference All Division Second Team during his sophomore season at Northland. Kevin is positive, hardworking, goal driven, and very cognizant of how his behavior both off and on the field can define him. He is a great example of a true student athlete. Kevin is very grateful for the opportunities Northland has provided him.

His ability to persevere and earn his degree is a testament to his work ethic and the type of individual he is.

Kevin is the son of James and Janice Smith. He credits his parents for their influence in helping him grow into the young man he is today. He is also very thankful to many Northland instructors. Northland staff and instructors played a big part in challenging Kevin and supporting his belief that no matter who people are, they can achieve their goals with dedication and hard work. Kevin is graduating with his Associate in Arts degree. He plans to return home to Florida and continue his education at the University of South Florida, where he will pursue a degree in counseling. According to NCTC registrar Lisa Bottem, “Kevin is a very humble individual and leads by actions more than words. He has had to work very hard to be successful in both the classroom and on the football field. His ability to persevere and earn his degree is a testament to his work ethic and the type of individual he is.”

Houston Kirkeide graduated from Lincoln High School in 2004 and after a short stint at the University of North Dakota, he decided to continue a family tradition and join the military. He enjoyed four years active duty in the Air Force as a crew chief on F-15E Eagles stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force base in North Carolina.

After his military service, Houston decided to make his way back home again to pursue a degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology at Northland Community and Technical College. Throughout his two years at Northland, he supported the aviation program as the local Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) club president and represented the college as the student senate president. Three days after graduating in May of 2011, he began work as an aircraft technician for Life Time Fitness maintaining their corporate aircraft. Three years later, he joined the General Mills flight department for just 14 months as General Mills decided to close down their operation. Houston then rolled his tool box back across the ramp to Lifetime Fitness where he is currently the Director of Maintenance.
Houston exhibited the best of our student body here at Northland.

Houston also serves as an advisor on the Minnesota Maintenance Technician Conference committee. He has recently joined Northland’s Aviation Maintenance Technology advisory committee. Currently, he is working towards his bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Houston says, “The education I received at Northland helped mold the foundation for the mechanic and person that I am today. I will continue to support the college and community any way that I can as they have given me the tools necessary to succeed in life.” Jason Pangiarella, NCTC student success coordinator, added, “Houston exhibited the best of our student body here at Northland. He was dedicated, responsible, industrious, and was a fantastic student.”

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.