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Saint Paul College A Community & Technical College

Alumni in the News

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Saint Paul College alumni mak​e tremendous positive impacts throughout our communities every day. Click below to read inspirational stories from our alumni:

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5/8/2023 3:12 PMMichael Johnson 2Yes5/3/20235/3/2023 9:43 AMFrom Carpentry Instructor to Ongoing MentorArias
Arias Oliver sitting in a suit

During his 4-year stint in the Marines, Arias Oliver knew he wanted to pursue a career in carpentry following his military service. He was still determining where to attend when he read that Washington Monthly magazine ranked Saint Paul College the #1 community college in the nation in 2010 and 2013 for student engagement in active and collaborative learning. Arias enrolled in the Saint Paul College Carpentry Diploma Program in 2013 and received the education and encouragement he needed, and he still receives today, some ten years later.

After earning his education, Arias worked as a union carpenter for seven years; three years at Adolfson & Peterson in commercial concrete, three years at Morcon Construction, and one year at Install Eight. While in the union, Arias completed the carpentry apprenticeship program to advance to a Journeyman carpenter and general contractor. Later, Arias worked for a residential remodeling company which sparked his interest in residential carpentry. Following his heart and advice from his teacher and now mentor, Perry Franzen, Arias took a leap of faith and started his own residential carpentry business in February 2022.

Since this exciting leap of faith, his business, Oliver Company, LLC, has grown through word-of-mouth based on hard work and an unwavering commitment to always being on time. He credits much of his discipline to military service and continues to grow in carpentry skills through ongoing mentorship from his teacher over a decade ago. Arias describes Perry Franzen as a patient teacher who wants to teach and help others to succeed. He is amazed and grateful that his instructor continues teaching while encouraging him to "call any time" with questions about his craft. Arias appreciates his special ongoing relationship and understands why Saint Paul College has earned many excellent credentials.

Arias Military

Corporal Arias Oliver’s marine service included infantry work in the Middle East and Afghanistan from 2009 to 2013. He learned vital life skills like mental toughness, discipline, work ethic, and overall maturity as he adapted to numerous obstacles in challenging environments far from home. Arias has seen several of his military friends struggle to adjust. Transitioning from military to civilian life can be challenging as veterans are often taught to suppress their emotions. He encourages veterans to seek mental health support to become productive members. Arias wishes vets would use the benefits they earned in military service. The GI Bill and VA Home loan and the discipline and hard work they learned while serving can set their future for success. Seeking support can also help unlock their true potential and help with life after the military.

As a Yellow Ribbon college, Saint Paul College is committed to helping service members and veterans with this transition, including available mental health Counseling Services to help with these critical life transitions.

5/8/2023 3:11 PMMichael Johnson 2Yes4/26/20234/26/2023 2:52 PMFond Memories Last Over Three DecadesFond Memories

Anatoly Introlegator came to the US from Ukraine in 1990 and enrolled in the Tool & Die Program. He figured he could pursue this education with minimal English-speaking skills. Now, more than three decades later, Anatoly has been employed by the same employer since leaving Saint Paul College and recently reached out to the College to thank his teacher, Mr. Wold. Even though Mr. Wold retired from Saint Paul College in 2017, the Friends of Saint Paul College foundation reconnected these two gentlemen for a warm, heartfelt reconnection, as shared below:

Mr. Wold was an amazing teacher! He was very kind and patient and explained things in ways I could understand with my limited English skills. He helped me find an amazing job where I have served for over 30 years, and I owe much of my success to Mr. Wold and the Saint Paul College community.

Mr. Introlegator now serves as a Senior Machinist for Light & Wonder, a Las Vegas-based company with a machine shop in Eden Prairie. Anatoly enjoys his job, where he can see the results of his handy work. He produces card shufflers for casinos, and every part is made by his own hands. He wants to ensure students know there are many opportunities with machine shops all around the Twin Cities metropolitan area for skilled workers in Tool & Die and CNC machinery prototype of work.

Anatoly shares that it is simply terrible what is happening back in his native country of Ukraine. He escaped in 1989, yet still has many family and friends back there. Unfortunately, he shares that part of the city he grew up in has been destroyed, and he has had difficulty reconnecting with many loved ones. Despite these concerns, Anatoly is grateful for the helping hand Saint Paul College gave him with his new life in America. He thoroughly enjoyed letting those special faculty members know this appreciation, even 30+ years later.

1/3/2022 11:00 AMMichael Johnson 2Yes12/29/202112/29/2021 10:58 AMBeauty in the Eyes

The fantastic story of Tameka Jones, a 2003 Saint Paul College graduate featured on the HULU Photo of Tameka and KiJana Jonestelevision series The Small Business Revolution, continues to shine. Tameka’s story of service to others truly goes from inner beauty to outer beauty in many remarkable ways. An​d now, her story transcends generations as her daughter, KiJana Jones, joins forces with her mom to add a new service to their growing business, eyelash extensions.

Like her mother, KiJana Jones also attended Saint Paul College, completing the Cosmetology course Eyelash Extensions in November. A few weeks later, she passed the Minnesota State Board certification test to become a Certified Eyelash Technician. KiJana also enjoys helping people reach their full beauty, both inside and outside. With a certification in eye care, she now joins her mother’s business to expand their beautification services with their growing Saint Paul area clientele. Lip Esteem is overgrowing, and they are already looking to expand their office space while relocating to the Rondo community near the College.

Photo of  KiJana Jones

KiJana speaks with deep admiration for her mother’s love in letting her pave her path, and now that path coincides with her mother’s thriving business. Proud mother Tameka is excited to work alongside her daughter and shares how KiJana is funny, down to earth, and gets along with everyone. Together, they are a beautiful picture of bringing their passions forward in ways that serve others in many significant ways. Both mother and daughter are very grateful for the excellent education at Saint Paul College in this growing career field.

The Saint Paul College Cosmetology Department offers certificate programs for both Eyelash Extensions and Nail Care Technician. The 38-hour Eyelash Extensions course includes two days on campus and the rest online. Topics include preclinical instruction in the structure, function, and disorders of the eye and orbital area, eyelash growth cycle, contraindications, allergic reactions, infection control, eye shapes, and eyelash evaluation. 

Orenda Benajaminson, Eyelash Technician Instructor, shared these comments on her dedicated student:

Kijana was an eager student who was always willing to expand her knowledge on this very profitable eyelash technician industry. She was great to have in class!

Learn more about our Eyelash Extensions and Nail Care Technician certificate programs

12/21/2022 1:51 PMMichael Johnson 2Yes8/11/20218/11/2021 11:37 AMNyleve Eiram - a Rising Phoenix

photo of Nyleve Eiram at Graduation
Overcoming obstacles is difficult. Adversities can set us back, but learning how to overcome challenges in our life makes us better, a rising phoenix. If you are looking for a model student who has overcome much, look no further than the inspirational story of Nyleve Eiram – a survivor of brain cancer – and someone who truly thrives in overcoming any obstacles in her path!

After being told by her birth mother that "she would never make it," Nyleve took on this challenge by living with a motto of "I can do it" about any obstacles that would come her way. Book Cover: How I Survived A Brain TumorGrowing up with multiple disabilities, an additional challenge of a brain cancer diagnosis gave her more fuel to overcome the odds with uncanny persistence and a steadfast belief that her purpose in life was to encourage and inspire others to be their best. In addition to "I can do it," she added, "If I can beat a brain tumor, what makes you think I'm going to let life beat me?" to her belief system.

With a desire to overcome these obstacles, Nyleve received her AA degree in Communications from Saint Paul College to transfer into the University of Minnesota Communications program. She plans on studying Communications with an emphasis on Journalism, Mass Communications, and Public Speaking and eventually wants to pursue a Doctorate in the field.Photo of Nyleve Eiram at University of Minnesota In addition to these ambitious goals, Nyleve has found the time to write three books: "How I Survived A Brain Tumor" and two volumes of poetry. In addition to receiving tremendous support and encouragement from many at Saint Paul College, Jamela Pettiford, Founder of Power of Purpose, serves as her mentor.

A Rising Phoenix is a symbolic rebirth that gives hope, renewal, and progress. Nyleve Eiram is the face of a rising phoenix and an inspiration to many!

An inspiration to others, The Saint Paul College Foundation was honored to have Nyleve share her story at their Annual Gala. 



8/31/2021 12:03 PMMichael Johnson 2Yes5/27/20215/27/2021 12:52 PMEsthetics Alum to be featured on HULU showTameka Jones

Tameka Jones.jpgTameka Jones, a 2003 Saint Paul College graduate, will be featured on the HULU television series The Small Business Revolution, Season 6. The show will follow Tameka on her journey as a small business owner who launched her lipstick line Lip Esteem and reemerged her girls' group LADY amid the COVID pandemic and civil unrest in the Twin Cities. Her story of service to others truly goes from inner beauty to outer beauty in many remarkable ways.

At a difficult time in her life, Tameka sought meaning and purpose. Tameka called Saint Paul College right as an Esthetics course was about to start. On government assistance and with just $25 in her pocket, college didn't seem possible. When she heard the application cost was just $20 (applications are now free at Saint Paul College), she applied immediately. That investment paid off as she found a new focus for her life. Tameka described her teachers as very demanding, but that was precisely the kick-start needed to learn her craft well. After graduation, with a passion for helping women and girls see their inner beauty through her work in makeup, she established LADY (Leader Achiever Determined Youth) as a mentoring group to help girls' grades 5-12 improve their self-esteem.Tameka SPC Group

Last year, following a job furlough due to COVID, she started her makeup brand using plant-based, cruelty-free, gluten-free, clean, and environmentally safe products. This business grew, and she continued to take entrepreneur classes when noticed by Deluxe Corporation. With a budget of $500,000, Deluxe Corporation and the Small Business Revolution help fund six small businesses and their respective communities with the support they need to scale up their businesses. The show will demonstrate how small companies can succeed in today's challenging climate. The Small Business Revolution Season 6 will begin airing on the HULU network this fall.

Tameka HULU PhotoShoot.jpg

Tameka now serves as a role model for many women in the beauty and business world. She owes much of her success to the demanding, loving, caring education she received at Saint Paul College, which gave her the confidence and determination needed to make the most of herself. As a result of her impactful education, she encourages many others to be the best they can be.

Read more about Tameka's story in Twin Cities Business and the Star Tribune. Photos courtesy of Tameka Jones.

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