Academic Excellence Award Student News

Academic Excellence Winner – David Bergen, Business

“I want to be the decision maker. This new skill set is about making myself more marketable.”

After 16 years of working in the Information Technology field, David Bergen decided it was time to take the next step in his career.

Bergen graduated from NEI’s IT program with an associate’s degree shortly before it merged with Dunwoody. So when he began looking into his options for earning his Bachelor of Science degree, Dunwoody’s Applied Management & Leadership program was an obvious choice.

“NEI definitely set me up for success,” Bergen said. “And all of the values seemed to be carried over to Dunwoody.”

Bergen has been working in IT since graduating in 2002 and is currently a Senior IT Engineer at ME Global.

“I wanted to expand my career opportunities and diversify myself a bit,” he said, adding that his team at work has been supportive of his educational goals.

“I had always thought about coming back to school, but I needed to get to a place where it made sense,” Bergen said. “Before deciding, I did quite a bit of research, and the credit transfer at Dunwoody made it a straight forward and easy process.”

When Bergen began his college career, a hands-on technical degree wasn’t originally in the plans.

“I wanted to be a theater major,” he said, adding that he first tried out Concordia University in St. Paul and then Normandale before finding his way to NEI.

In the end, Bergen said he needed something with more career stability, which is why he chose the IT field.

“I wanted a career where I wouldn’t also be waiting tables, and I wanted more of a nine to five job,” he said. “I remembered someone from NEI coming to my high school, and I had an interest in computers and technology so I thought I would see where this path takes me.”

It’s a path he’s glad he’s on, and one he is excited to see where it will take him next.

During his two years at Dunwoody, Bergen has enjoyed his classes and the different perspectives his instructors bring with them to class.

Those classes have also prepared him to take the next steps in his career, and Bergen is looking forward to taking on more of a leadership role in the future.

“I want to be the decision maker,” he said. “This new skill set is about making myself more marketable.”

Some of the most valuable lessons Bergen learned, he learned from Adjunct Instructor Timothy Mendal.

“Tim drilled it into us that ‘change is inevitable, but growth is optional,’” he said. “Now I see the holistic approach of what that means.”

Bergen has been impressed by how the College pivoted this spring when it was forced to transition to a virtual education experience.

“There was a lot of preparedness at the College,” he said. “Dunwoody was prepared for a situation like this. I’ve heard from friends at other colleges, whose programs just shut down and now they are stuck. Here at Dunwoody we only lost a week. I’m extremely thankful that I chose Dunwoody and that the College had the ability to make this transition very smooth.”

Originally from Shakopee, Bergen now lives in Plymouth with his wife. Working full-time and balancing school and a family life hasn’t been easy, but Bergen said his wife kept him motivated and inspired.

“She kept me going and was a major factor in me being able to do this for myself,” he said. “She definitely kept me motivated.”

His family and friends taking the time to check in and encourage him along the way also helped keep him focus while he finished up his degree.

And Bergen didn’t just finish — he graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA — an accomplishment he credits to a high degree of planning.

“It definitely required a high level of planning, setting aside time, and then sticking to it,” he said. “But it was worth it.”