Out from Under the Bus

Management for Tech Professionals changed the course of Bill Akuma’s life

Born in Kisii, a dynamic town of some 85,000 people in southwestern Kenya, Bill Akuma, 41, is a graduate of the Management for Technical Professionals program at Dakota County Technical College. Akuma moved to the U.S. in 1994, arriving in Minneapolis in the dead of January. The average temperature in Kisii in January is around 87 °F. The average January temp in the Twin Cities is 13 °F, or 74 degrees chillier.

“It was cold,” Akuma remembered. “I had never experienced cold like that and didn’t expect it. Luckily, the people who came to get me at the airport brought me a jacket—and even that wasn’t enough.”

Akuma survived his first Minnesota winter and landed a job as the household coordinator on the Maranatha campus (located in Brooklyn Center, Minn.) of Presbyterian Homes and Services, which operates 35 senior living communities, serving more than 12,000 older adults in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Highly individualized based on your technical expertise and educational needs, Management for Technical Professionals provides the skills needed to succeed in leadership positions or enhance your career mobility. Technical professionals fill supervisory and middle management roles in companies and corporations.

In late October 2011, Akuma was promoted to a new position as restorative sleep study program coordinator at the Presbyterian Homes Lake Minnetonka Spring Park location. His official title is RSSP site leader.

“For the next three years, I will be doing research relating to sleep,” Akuma said. His team will study why people are sleep deprived, especially seniors.

Akuma went to high school in the town of Tabaka near Kisii, graduating in 1989 with an advanced diploma that allowed him to begin teaching. Also a talented artist, he specialized in soapstone carvings (Tabaka is known for its soapstone quarries). His realistic, miniature models of Jerusalem are on display in Sweden today. You can see them online by visiting Biblical Models.

“Scott and Harold pulled me out from under the bus and put me in the bus and showed me where I was going to get off.” — Bill Akuma

Originally leaving his home in Kenya to study landscaping technology at Anoka Technical College, Akuma eventually realized he wasn’t a good fit for that field. He soon found his way as a nursing assistant after earning a certificate from Hennepin Tech. Health care proved an excellent fit and he worked as a registered nursing assistant and TMA, or trained medical assistant, from 1998 to 2001.

For eight years, he served as staffing coordinator at Walker Methodist in Minneapolis—all the while continuing his education, taking gen eds at two universities, Metro State and National American. He also took courses at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and briefly joined the registered nursing waiting list at North Hennepin Community College.

“I don’t think I had a goal,” Akuma said. “I was like a balloon on top of water, just following the waves.”

Scott Gunderson and Harold Torrence | Supervisory Management Instructors

One evening, he was driving around Apple Valley when he happened to pass the Partners in Higher Education building, which is home to DCTC, Inver Hills Community College and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Curious, he stopped, went to the front desk and was quickly directed to Scott Gunderson and Harold Torrence.

Gunderson is board chair of the college’s Business and Management department as well as a supervisory management instructor. Torrence is a supervisory management instructor working on his Ph.D. from Hamline University. Both instructors also deliver customized training options to area businesses.

Gunderson and Torrence stopped what they were doing and invited Akuma to sit down. Akuma accepted and told them his story. And they did one of things they do best—they listened. As it turned out, that first meeting with the DCTC instructors changed the direction of Akuma’s life.

“Scott and Harold pulled me out from under the bus,” Akuma said with a smile, “and put me in the bus and showed me where I was going to get off. They talked to me for a long time and that impressed me. I didn’t even have an appointment. I thought, if this is how people would behave in this world, then this world would be good.”

Bill Akuma | Management for Technical Professionals AlumnusBill Akuma is active in a number of volunteer organizations, including:

  • Twin Cities chapter of the American Red Cross
  • United Nations
  • CGYA-22nd Century Youth Global Alliance in Minnesota
    • Serves as chair
    • Alliance helps youth choose careers and achieve intercultural integration

Akuma started at DCTC the very next week. He graduated with an A.A.S. degree in Management for Technical Professionals, a Supervisory Leadershipcertificate and a 4.0 GPA. He has since earned a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration and an MBA in Management, both all online from California Coast University. He’s working on his Doctor of Business Administration.“My first contact with Scott and Harold actually determined what my future will be,” Akuma said. “They taught me that however long it takes if you keep pressing on, you will achieve your goal—if only you are determined and identify your goal. Sitting down with Scott and Harold opened my eyes right there, boom! It changed everything.”

Management for Technical Professionals offers Credit for Prior Learning, or CPL. You can seek and get credit for life experience and accelerate your progress toward a degree, diploma or certificate. To learn more, visit Credit for Prior Learning.

For more information about the Management for Technical Professionals program, contact:
  • Scott Gunderson
    Board Chair | Business and Management department
    Supervisory Management Instructor

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