50 Years of Celebrating Bold Dreams and Achievements of Alumni

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This year, Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) celebrates 50 years of success stories among the more than 24,000 alumni who have passed through the College’s doors and gone on to thrive in their chosen careers.

For many alumni, NICC provided the educational foundation they needed to enhance their skills, nurture a successful career and begin their education at four-year colleges and universities.

Since 2007, the College has inducted 58 alumni into its Hall of Fame to celebrate their bold dreams, achievements in the community and unwavering commitment to service. The inductees’ professional careers are as varied as their individual stories: self-employed small business owners; accountants who lead Fortune 500 companies in Iowa; nurses, respiratory therapists, dental assistants and dentists; CEOs and entrepreneurs; and leaders in the agricultural community.

Garth_Griffin_for top article

Garth Griffin

Every fall, the College’s Hall of Fame ceremonies recognize a new group of alumni for their success, such as Garth Griffin, a 2015 inductee and 1974 Agri-Business Technology program graduate from New Hampton, who now manages the largest red gene carrier beef cattle herd in Iowa.

Griffin returned to NICC to lend his expertise, leadership and input for the construction of a new Beef Science Technology Building on the Calmar campus that will integrate student and community learning with a facility that teaches the importance of livestock agriculture for rural Iowa. The new facility will be completed this spring and serves as a living example of Griffin’s vision for ag education.

“Young people need to know where their groceries are coming from. Unfortunately, lots of people are not exposed to how agriculture really functions in rural communities; what it takes to get the food to your table every day, whether it’s from the garden, dairy, hogs or beef,” Griffin explained. “This new facility will help to educate students and consumers in northeast Iowa.”

Thousands of alumni in northeast Iowa, such as Garth Griffin, continue to make a powerful impact on their local communities through education and service. Do you know an NICC graduate who is making a difference in your community? Consider nominating graduates for the Hall of Fame this year. Visit www.nicc.edu/halloffame for more information.


More than 24,000 alumni have passed through the College’s doors and gone on to thrive in their chosen careers.

Since 2007, the College has inducted 58 alumni into the Hall of Fame to celebrate their bold dreams, achievements in the community and unwavering commitment to service.

NICC_our_education“Our Education is Never Completed”

Following her graduation from Northeast Iowa Community College’s (NICC) Associate Degree Nursing program in 1973, Jan Geertsema began a 40-year nursing career that included decades of experience in the cardiology departments at Mercy Health Center and Medical Associates in Dubuque, and licensure as one of the area’s first Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners in 1991. Her career includes leadership in healthcare initiatives to raise awareness on women and heart disease, and tireless educational work to address heart disease prevention for adults.

The College inducted Geertsema into the Hall of Fame in 2013 to recognize her many career and community achievements.

Her education inspired her commitment to lifelong learning and provided the foundation for her career success.

“I’ve been a self-directed learner my entire life. Our education is never completed – it is ongoing,” Geertsema expressed.


Jan Geertsema

After graduation from NICC, Geertsema  earned a B.S.N. from the University of Dubuque in 1982 and an M.S.N from the University in 1989. She later earned certification as an Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist.

In 1991, she joined the Cardiology Department at Medical Associates and successfully petitioned the State of Iowa Board of Nursing to create the first Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Licensure of Adult Clinical Nurse Specialists in Iowa.

Her husband David’s lifelong struggle with diabetes, his passing in 2003 of the disease and his spirit and legacy inspired Geertsema and her daughters to establish an award in his memory to an outstanding Eisenhower Elementary School fifth grade student every year. For nine years, the family has also held annual fundraisers, raising $5,000-8,000 each year, to help local children attend Camp Hertko Hollow Children’s Diabetes Camp.

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