Two receive Distinguished Alumni Awards

Gibson and Fatemi
Wade Gibson, left, and Morteza Fatemi were honored Jan. 4.

Morteza Fatemi, a June 1985 graduate from the Environmental Laboratory Technology program at Southeast Community College, and Wade Gibson, a June 2002 graduate from the Microcomputer Technology program, each received Distinguished Alumni Awards from the College during an in-service meeting Jan. 4 at SCC's Lincoln Campus.

Morteza Fatemi

Fatemi is a senior qualification engineer for Novartis Consumer Health/GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare in Lincoln. He is responsible for testing equipment to ensure that it is validated/qualified and consistently does what it should do according to FDA rules and regulations. The equipment may include pharmaceutical water and cooling systems and packaging equipment for medications.

"I was extremely excited that I could express my gratitude to faculty and staff about how my professional career and personal life were affected since graduating from SCC," Fatemi said. "Their hard work and dedication to education and student life" were evident.

Fatemi's daughter, April Minster, chair of SCC's Associate Degree Nursing program, nominated her father for the award.

"I have known him my entire life, and he has consistently shown motivation, hard work and dedication amidst the challenges that life has presented," Minster said. "My Dad came to the United States in 1977 to attend college at Louisiana State University. When I asked him about any challenges, he simply stated, 'culture and language.' He spoke a little English and didn't understand the language. Shortly after he moved to Fremont to attend Midland Lutheran University. His uncle lived in Nebraska, and he wanted to be near family. Upon completing his Bachelor of Arts degree in biological science, he moved to Lincoln. He spent the next several months seeking employment and without success worked at a downtown restaurant. He had heard about SCC and decided to take a few classes, including microbiology and chemistry, when he met John Kenkel."

Kenkel was an instructor in the Environmental Laboratory Technology program who is credited with getting Fatemi started on his career.

"The excellent classroom education, hands-on training and job placement I acquired from SCC prepared me for my current position," Fatemi said.

Fatemi has numerous responsibilities at his current position, including the qualification of new and existing utilities and manufacturing equipment; performing installation qualification, operational qualification and performance qualification; qualification of programmable logic controllers, human-machine interaction and variable frequency drives; and managing resources for the completion of qualification activities in a timely manner.

Fatemi began his career as a laboratory assistant in pharmaceutical development at the former Norden Laboratories/SmithKline Beecham Animal Health.

He holds the Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification, Merck Yellow Belt certification and is a certified auditor.

His community service includes serving as a coach in the YMCA and Capital Soccer Association.

Professionally he is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Chemical Society, the CIP team for raw materials, and a member of the lean manufacturing team (Kaizan).

Minster said her father's hard work and dedication are best exemplified by the following three points.

"First, he says often, 'if you love your job, you don't work a day in your life' proudly and finds this true to himself," she said. "Secondly, he works until the job is done. Lastly, after many years working with the same pharmaceutical company, my Dad was forced into early retirement. I could see how devastating this was to him and his personal identity. He was not old enough to 'really' retire and needed to seek out employment. He had not interviewed or written a resume in years. I was shocked, not sure why, but he went to the library for books and took classes on interviewing techniques and resume writing. Several months later he continued his career in Omaha. He has mentioned a few times how eye-opening that experience was and how much he has grown personally and professionally with a couple different companies since then."

Wade Gibson

Gibson is the media/technology coordinator for Educational Service Unit 11 in Holdrege.

"When I learned that I would be recognized for this award, I was immediately taken by surprise," Gibson said. "I had no idea that I was even nominated for this award, so I was very humbled."

Dr. Paul Tedesco, ESU 11 administrator, nominated Gibson for the award.

"In addition to Wade having extensive knowledge in technology, he has tremendous communication and presentation skills," Tedesco said. "This allows our organization to utilize him in multiple capacities, including teaching adult learners and presenting information to both large and small groups. Wade's friendly demeanor, coupled with his extensive technical and background knowledge, make it easy for him to work with people of all personalities."

Gibson said the education he received from SCC "provided the solid foundation for me to begin building my career."

"The fundamental skills and hands-on experience gained while at SCC proved to be invaluable when entering the workforce," he said. "I was fortunate enough to be hired on part-time with Lincoln Public Schools during my first quarter at SCC (a job listing I found posted at the Placement Office). The workplace experience I gained in parallel with my education allowed me to stay on full-time upon my graduation from SCC. This seamless transition was pivotal to my future growth in the field."

In his current position, Gibson is responsible for providing leadership and vision for the 13 member school districts that comprise ESU 11.

"Our team partners with district administrators and technology coordinators to plan, implement and support a variety of technology projects and services," Gibson said. "Additionally, we collaborate on a number of statewide initiatives that provide increased opportunities for schools in our area."

Gibson was instrumental in developing a streamlined approach to data collection. He and a team of ESU 11 cohorts presented the information at the 2013 Association of Educational Service Agencies annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. The presentation was titled "You Can Lead Schools to Data, but Can You Make Them Think?" It focused on how Gibson utilized free Web 2.0 tools to assemble and analyze data to better assist member school districts.

Besides holding membership in a number of professional organizations, Gibson is a member of the Webster County Agricultural Association and has been a board member since April 2015.

Gibson said, "One of the most important skills a person can possess is the ability to continually learn and change. The information technology field can shift rapidly, so this is crucial. A person's willingness to learn new things is far more valuable than how well they mastered a particular skill five years ago."


For more information contact:
Stu Osterthun
Administrative Director of Public Information and Marketing