Local NICC Hall of Fame honorees

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Local NICC Hall of Fame honorees

By Mike Van Sickle
Union editor

A pair of West Union residents will be among alumni, retirees, and donors recognized during Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in Calmar on Monday, Oct. 21.

While 2003 NICC graduate Dr. John W. Pleggenkuhle will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, retired business administrator/instructor Darwin Schrage will be bestowed the local community college’s Outstanding Retiree Award.

Dr. Pleggenkuhle received his general education development (GED) degree from the Calmar campus after his work on the family farm interrupted his senior year at New Hampton High School.

Pleggenkule’s experiences working on the farm and seeing his father’s own struggle with chronic back pain influenced his career ambitions.

Dr. Pleggenkuhle explained that he witnessed his father hurt his back while farming, which led to a chiropractor coming to the farm to provide his dad treatment. This experience influenced his career choice.

After earning a GED and working locally, Pleggenkuhle returned to the Calmar campus and earned his Associate of Arts degree in business administration in 2003.

Following his graduation from NICC, he earned a Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Chiropractic degrees from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport in 2008. He currently owns and operates Pleggenkuhle Chiropractic in West Union.

“NICC was very helpful to me,” said Pleggenkuhle. He credited the NICC faculty and related course work with providing him the education he needed to fulfill a lifelong dream – to own a successful business.  

“I was able to get an excellent education close to home for a much lower cost than through a university,” he added. “I feel that opening my own practice was much easier for me having attained my business degree from NICC.”

  Dr. Pleggenkuhle is a member of the Iowa Chiropractic Society, West Union Chamber of Commerce, and Main Street West Union.  John is an active volunteer who promotes West Union as a great place to work, play, educate, shop and raise a family.

A licensed chiropractor in both Iowa and Arizona, John and his wife, Andrea, live in West Union. The couple have two daughters, Alexa and Emma.

Outstanding retiree

Darwin Schrage began his career at Northeast Iowa Community College as an accounting instructor in 1967. The then Area One Vocational-Technical School only offered 12 career and technical programs.

The following year, Schrage was named chair of the Business Department. Starting in 1969, he served the next 31 years in many administrative leadership capacities for the college, including: director of vocational/technical education, assistant superintendent for career education, vice president for educational services, and vice president for student services and institutional advancement.

“One of the most meaningful aspects of my days at Northeast Iowa Community College was the opportunity to witness students of all ages and backgrounds successfully pursue and achieve their educational goals in credit programs and continuing education,” Schrage noted.

Schrage’s leadership and advocacy for the college is credited for helping NICC earn Iowa community college status in 1988. In May 1999, the Darwin Schrage Administration Building was named to honor his years of service.

Following his retirement in June 2000, Schrage and his late wife, Barb, created the Darwin and Barbara Schrage Scholarship to provide financial assistance to NICC students.

An accomplished steel guitar player, he and his six-member band, Wichita, celebrated 34 years of playing together this year. In 2016, the College will celebrate its 50th anniversary, and he is participating in the effort with other colleagues to record and publish the events that have shaped the history of Northeast Iowa Community College.

“NICC is an extremely important asset to Northeast Iowa because it provides access to higher education opportunities in credit programs and continuing education that otherwise would not be available,” stressed Schrage. “The college also makes a significant contribution to area economic development through numerous partnerships with business and industry.”

“I think having a local community college is great for the entire area,” Dr. Pleggenkuhle agreed. “Students are able to attend a less expensive school for the first two years and transfer to a university with two years out of the way. I plan to send both of my daughters to NICC to get an associate’s degree before they go on to earn bachelor's degrees.”

The 2013 Northeast Iowa Community College Hall of Fame ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Monday in the Wilder Business Center.


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