Students Take Their Career Path Through Northeast in So. Sioux City

by jamesc  11/1/2013 4:20:52 PM --  SOUTH SIOUX CITY – Earning a college degree is important when a person is finding a job. But for two students who have taken classes at Northeast Community College, pursuing their education has taught them more than just learning a new skill, it has given them a better understanding of whom they are and what they want to do with their lives.


“Going to college and getting a degree made me realize that I needed to do more with my life. I needed to broaden my horizons,” said Justin Miller, South Sioux City, a student in the welding program at Northeast Community College at the College Center in South Sioux City. “Since then, I have grown in knowledge and respect for the craft of welding.”

“My experience here at Northeast has been the greatest learning experience in my life. In just seven to eight weeks, I have grown in confidence, gained a sense of self-worth and knowledge. Seven weeks ago if you would have asked me to read a blueprint, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. If you would have asked me the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals, I would have been confused.”

Miller admits he still has a long way to go in his field of study, but he is confident he will earn his degree. “I know with my determination, my instructor and my classmates, they will help me push my way to my goal. My long term goal after I graduate from Northeast Community College is to get a good job and be able to support my wife and two kids. Someone they can be proud of.”

Miller said he understands the value of a college education. “I don’t expect to make millions of dollars. I just want to make enough to live happy, comfortable and be a success. In the end, knowledge is power. And in today’s world you need that piece of paper so you can apply what you know in order to advance in this world.”

Gissela Espinoza-Diaz, South Sioux City, is a former Northeast business administration student at the College Center. She has a similar story to Miller, but her road to Northeast took a different path.

“I was born and raised in Arizona. From there I lived a normal life until May 2008 when I found out my parents were illegal immigrants living in the States. Things got really bad around that time. My parents really wanted to keep us together, so we moved to Mexico.”

Espinoza-Diaz said her two-year stay in Mexico was difficult for her. She said she was more accustomed to living in the United States. “I love Mexico and it’s beautiful. But I was 14 and the change was too much for me at that time. At the age of 16, I decided I wanted to come back to the U.S. by myself.”  

She chose to start her new life in South Sioux City. “After living in Phoenix, I decided I wanted to live in a smaller town. I fell in love with South Sioux City. This was the best town I could have chosen to live in. It was destiny.”

Espinoza-Diaz attended South Sioux City High School to finish her senior year. It was at that time she met and made a connection with Northeast Community College Advisor Teresa Frank. She said Frank made the transition very easy for her.

“I said to myself ‘If this is how she treats people who don’t even go to Northeast, how will she treat me if I do attend?’ So I made the decision to go, and it was the best decision I ever made.” Espinoza-Diaz said the College Center feels very comfortable to her. “When you walk through the doors, you feel like you do at home.”

She said she is thankful that Northeast Community College has an articulation agreement with Wayne State College, which also offers classes at the College Center. “When I transferred from Northeast to Wayne State College, I thought it would be difficult for me. But it was such as easy transition,“ she said. “I have to say that if it wasn’t for the connection between the two schools, I think I would have had to go back to Mexico.”

“In the end, this is where I want to be. I want to grow and I want to have a career in business administration with an emphasis in human resources. I am so glad you gave me the opportunity to pursue my dreams.”

Both Espinoza-Diaz and Miller made their comments during a meeting of the Northeast Community College Board of Governors, which met recently at the College Center.

The College Center provides a unique educational experience in the Siouxland region. “Students can begin by taking courses through Northeast Community College and then transfer them to Wayne State College in our one building to complete their baccalaureate or master’s degrees, said College Center Dean Pam Miller. “We also offer many programs, such as welding, that allow students to enter the workforce upon completion.”

Students have several options when they attend the College Center. They may choose to work toward a certificate; a diploma; other short-term training; an associate of arts degree (AA); associate of applied science degree (AAS) ; bachelor of science (BS); and a master of science (MS).

For more information on Northeast College at the College Center, contact Miller at (402) 241-6405 or via email at


Posted In -- Students and Alumni, South Sioux City, Press Releases, Faculty and Staff, Degrees and Programs, Career Services, Board of Governors

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