Award recipients to give addresses at commencement ceremonies.
May 9, 2023 — Northland Community & Technical College proudly announces the 2023 Student of the Year awards presented to East Grand Forks student Greta Haslekaas and Thief River Falls student D'Mani Nettles. This honor is awarded annually to graduating students who have shown outstanding commitment to their chosen profession.
Greta Haslekaas is a physical therapist assistant student from Milton, N.D. She was a December 2022 graduate of Northland, where she received an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Later this month, Greta will earn her second degree from Northland when she graduates with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA).
Haslekaas graduated from Langdon Area High School in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was excited to start college and meet new people, but many restrictions were still in place due to COVID, and it was a tough first year. While thoughts of transferring to another institution came up, she decided to stay at Northland to continue her education, pursuing a degree in PTA. Haslekaas had the opportunity to attend the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Convention in San Diego, Calif., in February. Life had other plans, however, as a major snowstorm took away this opportunity to present and network with other PTA students and professionals. Haslekaas was later selected by her Program Director, Justin Berry, to be honored at the Minnesota PTA Convention in Minneapolis earlier this month. This time, the weather cooperated, and she could attend the Minnesota Convention.
Haslekaas said she chose Northland because of its financial benefits. Saving money and avoiding debt were very important to her. She is a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society member, president of the PTA Club at Northland, and recipient of the APTA Minnesota Outstanding Student Award.
"Given Northland's smaller class size, it has encouraged me to develop rapport with instructors and staff at the college, which will follow me in my professional career," Haslekaas said. "Being named Student of the Year came as a complete shock. This award is an honor and I am so humbled to receive it. The Student of the Year award is only the beginning of what I plan to achieve in my future."
D'Mani Nettles will graduate from Northland with an Associate of Arts degree with plans to continue his education at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., after graduation. Nettles is a 2020 graduate of Leesburg High School in Leesburg, Fla. He initially committed to play basketball for the Pioneers before the 2020-21 season; however, the season was delayed and eventually canceled. Nettles persevered through the uncertainty and returned in the fall of 2021.
During his time at Northland, Nettles was a full-time student. He was a two-year starter on the Northland men's basketball team, worked full-time, and launched a clothing brand called Latrod Legacy.
"As a student-athlete, D'Mani was always committed to doing things the right way," said Rick Nikunen, Northland men's basketball head coach. "His priorities were in the right place. Academics first, then basketball. I was impressed by his pursuit of excellence in everything he did."
Nettles faced adversity during his sophomore year at Northland. He lost his grandmother in the fall but returned to campus and earned a 3.75 GPA during the fall semester. During the spring semester, his sophomore basketball season was cut short after he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Central Lakes on Jan. 18.
"I am honored to come and be a part of the history of the school," Nettles said. "I'm grateful and thankful."
The Thief River Falls campus will celebrate its commencement ceremony at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, in the Northland gymnasium. Northland's East Grand Forks campus will hold its ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday, May 12, at the Chester Fritz Auditorium in Grand Forks, ND.
Friends, family members, and the general public who are unable to attend commencement are invited to watch the ceremonies via live stream. A link to the live stream will be posted on the college website. The video will play once broadcasting starts and can be viewed on your computer, mobile device, or smart TV. Commencement ceremonies are expected to last approximately 90 minutes.
Additional information on spring commencement exercises is available by calling 1-800-959-6282 or visiting www.northlandcollege.edu/grad23