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Northeastern Junior College Foundation

Northeastern Junior College Foundation

The NJC Foundation helps donors help others through gifts that support Northeastern's needs, higher education scholarships, grants, and legacy gifts.

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Northeastern Junior College Foundation endows and promotes the future of Northeastern, supports its students and faculty through solicitation of funds, manages investments and recognition of donations and provision of scholarships. Each gift does make a difference.

Event News:

The NJC Foundation held three events over the weekend of September 23rd and 24th.  The events celebrated the funding for an expansion at North Campus, scholarship donors for their generosity and a new home for the NJC Men's and Women's Soccer Teams.  More details below!

Northeastern Junior College celebrates campus expansion project, new scholarship opportunity

Big Iron’s Cal West Memorial Scholarship will benefit diesel and ag students

By Callie Jones 

Northeastern Junior College celebrated both the beginning of its Applied Technology Campus expansion project as well as a new scholarship opportunity for students attending programs on that campus at an open house Friday.

During the celebration, Big Iron presented a $10,000 donation to the NJC Foundation to launch the Cal West Memorial Scholarship, which will provide financial assistance for diesel technology and agriculture students.

Jennifer Wagner, Big Iron sales rep for Logan, Morgan, Sedgwick and Phillips County, spoke about the company which offers a full-service option to help ag producers, dealerships and businesses liquidate their assets at auction. They provide online options weekly, which give customers an opportunity to reach the world and receive a return on investment.

“In northeast Colorado especially, I have helped many on their retirements and estate auctions, in addition to customers that just had a few auction items to sell,” Wagner said.

She has been with Big Iron for eight years and credits Cal West, who passed away last year, with introducing her to the business and helping her get her start. Big Iron Regional Manager Kurt Campbell was also very close with West.

Wagner read a brief statement about West and why Big Iron donated money to NJC in his honor.

“Cal West was passionate about our communities as well as local youth; he mentored many youth as well as older professionals in areas of agriculture and life in general. Cal was direct, passionate, and always willing to listen to provide his input,” Wagner said. “He coached in a way to help everyone understand what was right and encouraged everyone to give that extra 10%.”

West was an early advocate for Big Iron Auctions, as he and his dealership partner grouped with Big Iron to utilize the auction company to disperse his business in late 2009 and 2010. He later joined the Big Iron family and continued to mentor and be active in the equipment and agriculture industry. West worked with Big Iron co-founders Mark and Ron Stock to advise on strategies and methods to best serve agriculture communities like those in Logan County.

He was instrumental in the growth of Big Iron, as well as ensuring Big Iron was providing the best customer service for all customers.

“Cal loved to wear the big yellow shirt and help customers across the U.S. From speaking at dealer meetings to being in the field with customers and listing their equipment on an auction, Cal was always busy doing what he loved, helping people,” Wagner said.

West was such a large advocate for mentoring and developing people, Big Iron found it fitting to honor him by donating $10,000 to further education in agriculture and diesel mechanic fields. They chose NJC because West was involved in the local community and always promoted interested young men and women to further their education.

Big Iron has committed to $10,000 for a 10-year period to benefit the students enrolling in NJC for agriculture production, agriculture business, or diesel mechanics.

“We encourage others who knew Cal to make a commitment to this scholarship, so that we can help even more students at NJC. We certainly miss Cal and we hope this memorial scholarship will help his legacy last for decades to come,” Wagner said.

The scholarship presentation was just part of the open house to celebrate the ATC project, which will expand and renovate the existing buildings on the Applied Technology Campus to allow for the expansion of the automotive technology, diesel technology and wind technology programs. There will also be a new building between the existing buildings, which will allow for the precision agriculture and welding technology programs to move to that part of campus and provide room for new programs such as skilled trades and solar technology.

“It’s really going to bring some remarkable capability to Jason Hazlett (director of renewable energy) and his team to bring simulation and other training technologies into the students, so that they can get practice not only on all of the equipment you see here, but on a number of new skills we currently can’t teach,” NJC President Mike White said.

As he spoke, he also pointed out a truck in the diesel technology building that NJC students are in the process of rebuilding to be used to teach others to become commercial drivers in NJC’s commercial driver’s license program.

White thanked the Capital Development Committee, which is responsible for reviewing funding requests for capital projects from all state agencies and making prioritized recommendations for the Joint Budget Committee, for approving NJC’s project, giving special credit to state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, who sat on that committee and helped push that request forward.

At an NJC Advisory Council meeting on Thursday, Lisa LeFevre, vice president of administrative services, shared that the college has put in a phase two funding request for the project and is asking for double the phase one amount, which was $12,575,000. She is very optimistic that Northeastern will receive that funding, noting, “I have not yet seen in all the years I’ve been dealing with it, any of the continuation projects not getting funded.”

Early architectural drawings for the project were on display Friday. LeFevre told the council after a brief pause on the project due to the coronavirus pandemic the college is still working with project architects to finalize the design, but the general concept and design will remain the same. Right now, they are very focused on making sure that NJC is spending the money that it has for the project as effectively as possible.

White said they hope to break ground on the new building late this year or early next year. LeFevre does expect it to take longer than initially anticipated to complete the project due to supply chain issues; she said just getting the pre-engineered metal building that is part of the project will take about 18 months.

LeFevre shared that NJC has been doing some reporting to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the legislature “as far as the challenges everybody’s having as far as our capital construction and controlled maintenance with just not being able to buy equipment for really, really long periods of time.” For example, she was successful in securing a grant that allowed her to order a new vehicle back in February and she just had to cancel it, because there is no way the college would be able to get the vehicle by December, which is when the grant funds expire.

“It’s an interesting time,” LeFevre said.

Following the check presentation and remarks, guests were able to explore the current ATC classrooms, as well as the college’s new RISE (Response, Innovation and Student Equity) grant mobile learning lab.


Houghton: We are so grateful for every ounce of your support

By Callie Jones

As the cost of attending college grows for some students scholarships are the only way that they could ever afford to continue their education. Saturday, scholarship recipients at Northeastern Junior College had a chance to say thank you to those who have donated to make their higher education journey possible at the college’s annual Scholarship Donor Appreciation Brunch.

“Today is about bringing together our students with our community members who have supported them and believe in them, to have time to share a meal together and to visit,” said NJC Foundation Executive Director Vivian Hadley, telling the students, “the people here all believe in you. We believe in what you have that you’re going to bring to the future, we believe in what you’re going to bring to the table today andwe are proud to set an example for you.”

To the donors, she pointed out that the students are “our future leaders of commerce, of business, healthcare, agriculture and these are the people who will lead the generation following them to succeed” and thanked them for supporting the students.

NJC President Mike White spoke about the incredible work the NJC Foundation is doing to actively recruit in the community to get donations. He noted there are 13 colleges in the Colorado Community College System, some with much larger headcounts than NJC at 15,000 students, and yet despite its small size NJC’s Foundation is number two for fundraising.

“I think that just points to the dedication of this team and this community and what they want to do every day to raise money to support our students. I think it’s pretty remarkable when we have schools 10 to 15 times our size that can’t match the level of engagement of this Foundation and this community,” White said.

Jim Smith, NJC Foundation Board President, thanked college personnel for their efforts and the donors “who volunteer to share the success that they’ve experienced.” He noted they all have some reason or story for why they do what they do, it may be honoring family members who have passed away or just helping 

he profession that they have lived.

“They have a gift of sharing and giving, they are the reason we have the NJC Foundation. Thank you donors without your help and your support we would be nothing and we do, we have great success with the Foundation and it’s something I’m very proud of,” Smith said, encouraging the students once they have created their own lives and stories to remember NJC and the NJC Foundation.

Mike Anderson, chair of the NJC Agriculture Department, pointed out that scholarships are more important than they’ve ever been in terms of the financial needs of students and the cost of college. He told the students one of the reasons why donors give of themselves and give this gift is because they love NJC “and they want to afford you what we have gotten from this institution” and he encouraged them to learn their donor’s story and to pass the value on that was given to them with this great gift.

Scholarship recipient Tristan Holland, an agriculture student, spoke about opportunity, sharing that in the past few years 

he’s lived opportunities he could only dream of while serving as a Colorado FFA State Officer. Once he was finished with that he could not have been more excited to have the opportunity to return to NJC. But, he was worried that things might have changed since he left and that the opportunities he hoped for might have passed him by while he was wearing the blue jacket.

“I am proud and excited to admit that those opportunities are still here, they’re still open to the dedicated NJC students,” Holland said, thanking donors for giving him the opportunity to succeed at NJC.

Another scholarship recipient, Cristen Houghton, a second-year nursing student, thanked the donors for the huge impact they make on students at NJC. She spoke about her sister, a graduate of NJC, who always spoke about the college and the memories she made there and the amazing teachers, and that influenced her to enroll and stay at NJC.

“It’s like a family here. I think that’s a big reason why I chose to stay here at NJC, instead of going off to a four-year, just the amazing staff,” Houghton said.

She shared that thanks to the scholarships she has received she will be coming out of nursing school debt free. Those scholarships were particularly important to her as she comes from a single-parent home that didn’t have thousands of dollars saved up to put towards college.

“I believe I can speak on behalf of all of the students in this room right now, we are just so grateful for every ounce of support and financial help that we can get,” Houghton told the donors, noting that that college and “adulting” can be hard, “but with your help, you take off that tremendous weight on our shoulders.”

She went on to tell the donors, “It feels so special to know that we are deserving of your time, effort and hard-earned money and just so you know, you will never be taken for granted on my part. Your investment in our future drives us to succeed and seek out more education.”

One final scholarship recipient, sophomore Joao Fonseca, from Brazil, who is the Associated Student Government First Vice President, the first international student to serve on ASG, spoke 

about deciding to come to NJC. At first, it was simply because he wanted to be a studentathlete and play on the soccer team, but when he arrived on campus he knew the opportunity that he had to be there would be life- changing.

“Meeting a new culture and new people is amazing for me and to get to know all of the community of Sterling, all the people that come here from different backgrounds. You are all part of it, you are all part of the dream that I’ve been dreaming of since I was in Brazil praying for four years to come,” Fonseca told the students and donors. “I am very, very glad that this is the place I got to be.”

He went on to share that what really made him have certainty that NJC was the right place for him is the people he has met and the experiences that he’s been able to have. When he first came he was concerned with classes, practice and games.

“I didn’t think all the time between classes and practice would be so much fun, would mean so much to me,” he said.

Being able to experience his first Thanksgiving, playing golf for the first time and other firsts have been amazing and those experiences, along with the people at NJC, have made it special for him. Fonseca pointed out this experience has been the foundation and base for everything that he is going to be.

At the close of the brunch, Bob Plank, who at 90 years old has spent many years working to secure numerous scholarships for NJC students, said a few words of thanks.

“It’s been so fun and so rewarding to help all of the students,” said an emotional Plank.

Northeastern Junior College soccer teams finally have a place to call home

Groundbreaking held for new soccer field at Plainsmen Park

After several years without a place to call home Northeastern Junior College’s men’s and women’s soccer teams were all smiles Saturday at a groundbreaking ceremony for their new soccer field.

Located just across the way from the Plainsmen baseball field the new soccer field is part of the developments for the new Plainsmen Park, at Pioneer Road and Highway 138. The field will be used by the college teams, as well as the Sterling High School boys and girls soccer teams, who were also in attendance Saturday.

“Us having a safe place for our students, our kids to play is such an important thing for us and we couldn’t have done this without the support of our generous donors, one of whom is with us today, Ms. Judy Kimball,” said Vivian Hadley, executive director of the NJC Foundation.

She also thanked Marci Henry, athletic director at NJC, for coming in front of the NJC Foundation board and bringing the challenges that the soccer teams were facing to their attention. 

“I’ve known about this for a long time, but we really made it a focus and a forefront for us to work hard and gather enough funds to build a new soccer field and I’m so proud to have been a part of that,” Hadley said.

She went on to thank the soccer coaches for all they do, “as mentors to students, coaches are such a strong and important part of our students’ lives and it’s not just the gameplay on the field, but it’s what the coaches give to our students throughout their lives. So, thank you coaches for helping our students, helping our young people grow and become the leaders that they will become.”

Hadley also gave a special thank you to Susan Monahan and Mark Reck: “Without them we would not have been able to pull this together. They have been very generous to our community and to our college.”

He also thanked the amazingly generous donors who recognized the importance of this sport and athletics in general and what it does for building teamwork.

Henry noted that NJC first started soccer 11 years ago and at that time there was no scholarship money or field, but they had a great partnership with SHS.

In 2016, the athletic department came together and wrote a strategic plan that talked about student-athlete personal development and wellbeing, academic excellence, facilities and marketing. The only thing still needing to be accomplished was the facilities, “so today is really special, knowing that we are so close to being able to have our first match out there,” Henry said.

Since then, behind the scenes, the soccer teams started raising some money and along with some department efforts they were able to raise about $50,000, which was matched by the NJC Foundation.

“This field not only provides a safe environment for our students, for Sterling High students to play, but it will also enhance the overall student experience as we’ll have bleachers, we’ll have places for the other students to come cheer them on and they’ll get that real campus community and the strong Sterling High community where you can have a lot of supporters,” Henry said.

Men’s soccer coach Chance Vang thanked everyone that made the new field possible and provided a new place that Northeastern players can proudly call their home. He related the field to Ikigai, a Japanese term that means “your reason for being; it is what brings you joy and inspiration to get out of bed every day and work hard.”

“This gives our coaching staff, supporters, alumni, current student-athletes and future generations of soccer players more Ikigai, the inspiration to wake up every day and be proud to have the opportunity to represent Northeastern on and off the pitch and in the real world,” Vang said.

He also thanked all alumni, former players and coaches, as well as current coaches and players, because all the combined past and present success, hard work and challenges have helped to build this field.

“As an alumni and former player here myself, it has been amazing to see the growth of this program since I arrived here in 2016,” Vang said.  “Pride, passion and blue-collar are what come to mind when I think about Northeastern soccer. We never had the best match pitch conditions, practice field, or the greatest soccer-specific facilities, but we always had a positive mindset and fought through adversity together. Year in and year out, each generation of teams always found a way to compete and be elite amongst the best teams in the country, regardless of our field conditions.”

He spoke about the history of his team. In 2015, they had a winless record, but the year after NJC hired Coach David Groves to take over and he turned around the program in 2016, with the team earning the most improved record of all levels of NCJAA men’s soccer after garnering nine wins. In 2017, the team had its deepest postseason run in program history, reaching the Region IX championship match and in 2018 the team earned its first national ranking as number 12 in the country, led by Coach Keith Buderus.

“Fast forward to now, we will have a brand new state-of-the-art field to call our home along with a nationally recognized program. Northeastern soccer has so much potential. Day by day, month by month and year by year, it has all been little baby steps to grow. With all the continuous support from the NJC Foundation, leaders of the college, the community and our players, I have no doubt that we will continue to be great,” Vang said.

Women’s soccer coach Ken McAlpine shared that having a field that the teams are proud to call home has been a goal and dream since the inception of the soccer programs, but for the longest time it was just that, a dream. It seemed they would get the ball rolling and get to a certain point, but it never quite happened until now.

“I’m sure you guys have all gone over there and seen the green grass, the sprinkler system on, it’s just a beautiful sight to know that the dream has finally become a reality,” McAlpine said.

He called the team a “tribe of traveling nomads,” pointing out that with no field they held practices wherever they could, in the previously weeded area where the field is now, the grassy area by the tennis courts at Prairie Park, at Pioneer Park, Sterling Middle School football field, Ayres Elementary and the outfield of the Sterling Baseball Organization field.

“We’ve been all over the place and so now to finally have a home just means absolutely so much,” McAlpine said.

He recalled his first game coaching at NJC; it was in Powell, Wyo., and the team was short one person with only 10 players. They did manage to win that game but the rest of the season didn’t go so well.

“To see us grow on the field and now to have a place that we can proudly call our home I can’t express my gratitude enough,” McAlpine said.

Men’s team captain Jared Maciel thanked all those that helped make the field that no one thought would be possible a reality.

“The soccer community here at Northeastern has always been the underdog, but with dedication and hard work from everyone we are here and we’ve managed no matter the facility we’ve had to climb our way to the top of the leader board,” Maciel said.

When he thinks of a student-athlete at Northeastern he thinks of adversity. “The NJC soccer teams can both relate, especially when we travel to other schools and see their great facilities, their dorms and their campus. We always joke, saying what if we have that field, that training pitch, that locker room? Although we don’t have the most ideal situation, I feel like the adversity of what we go through as Northeastern athletes helps us have a strong bond to pick one another up, no matter the situation,” Maciel said.

He noted even though he won’t be able to play on the field, it still means a lot for the future development of the program.

Women’s co-team captain Yanitza Garay congratulated the coaches, who will no longer be picking weeds off the field for hours, telling them the athletes appreciate how humble and dedicated they have been while dealing with the minor inconveniences of never having a home.

“Although I may never set foot on this field, it’s still something to be truly thankful for and look forward to. It is a luxury that you upcoming freshman will have that we did not, but we sure worked hard for it,” Garay said, adding that this new field symbolizes that “hard work pays off as long as you stay humble regardless of what you have and that good things come to those who wait.”

Her co-captain Allison Seery thanked all those who have supported the teams and worked on the field.

“This field is something we have all talked about, we all wanted a new home and now we can say we have one,” she said,  adding that now with a practice field and a guaranteed home field the program can only go up from here.

The soccer field is part of the Plainsmen Park Project. NJC is partnering with the City of Sterling, Logan County, Banner Health and Sterling Correctional Facility to pursue funding from Great Outdoors Colorado and other grantors to provide a new park for the community.  Along with the new soccer field, NJC is also planning the construction of a softball field in a part of the park.

To help them build something for everyone in the community, NJC has sent out a brief survey for the project that can be found at

NJC President Mike White thanked SHS for its partnership and for allowing NJC to share a field with them since the program’s inception.

“We look forward to sharing our field with you as we move forward and get it completed for the next season,” he said.