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Monday, May 6, 2024

MCC presents Distinguished Alumni Award to Emily Petersen


Emily Petersen, of Grand Island, Nebraska, was awarded Montcalm Community College’s Distinguished Alumni Award during the college’s 57th Annual Commencement Ceremony on May 3.

“I’m very honored to receive this award. There are so many MCC alumni that deserve recognition for their hard work in the community, and I learned so much from them,” Petersen said.

The award honors an outstanding alumnus who has advanced their career and brought credit to themselves and to MCC through their accomplishments and community service, and who has embodied one or more of MCC’s value statements that spell SERVICE: student success, empowerment, relationships, visionary, inclusion, community and excellence.

Petersen started her journey at MCC in 2002, when she completed one semester of coursework. She re-enrolled in 2017 to finish her degree in general studies. During that time, she had five foster children at home. She said her teachers were very patient and worked with her on deadlines when children were home sick. She also wouldn’t have made it through without the help of family and friends.

Petersen graduated in 2020 with an Associate of Science & Arts degree. Since she graduated during Covid, the ceremony was a unique experience.

“Everyone was masked and outside,” she said. “I appreciated the college’s efforts to make the day special, in spite of Covid concerns. Who knew you could have fun at a drive-through graduation?”

She received a lot of support from her MCC instructors and staff members. Grants and scholarships, including those from the MCC Foundation, helped pay for her classes and left her debt-free upon graduation.

“I think my most memorable time at MCC was Mr. Ken DeLong’s political science class,” she said. “Mr. DeLong is one of the main people at MCC that inspired my passion for being invested in the community and using my education to serve others. My choice to pursue a career as a probation officer is largely due to his influence on my education.”

After her time at MCC, Petersen continued her education at Grace Christian University and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice. In 2023, she accepted a position as a probation officer with the state of Nebraska. She is currently working in investigations, and her job includes writing pre-sentence investigations for the courts and doing risk assessments for clients being considered for probation. She plans to transfer into high-risk supervision after gaining more experience.

“I am honored to be a part of the rehabilitation process for the criminal justice system in Nebraska. I love my job!” she said.

She is really thankful for her MCC experience.

“I feel that my education through MCC prepared me very well for this career, not only academically, but also through the commitment from the staff to help us become better communicators and to become compassionate, community-oriented people,” Petersen said.

She and her husband have three children. In the future, she plans to pursue her master’s degree in social work at the University of Nebraska.


Media inquiries, please contact:

Shelly Springborn
Director of Communications and Public Relations