Graduate of First Northeast Vet Tech Class Praises Quality, Value of Program

Published on: June 24, 2020 ,

From day one, the veterinary technology program at Northeast Community College has provided a quality education. That’s the opinion of a member of the first Northeast vet tech class.

Kerri Gibilisco (jibb-uh-liss-co) of Omaha received her degree in veterinary technology in 1998, along with other students who enrolled in 1996 for that first class. “I never felt like an experiment,” she said. “The program was well structured from the very beginning, and the instructors knew what they were doing.”

Gibilisco said she always wanted to be a veterinarian. “That was my plan before I was conceived,” she joked, but math and science were not her strong suit. “I was sitting in my high school counselor’s office in Gretna, looking at college catalogs,” the former Kerri Sederavicius (sed-ur-uh-vich-us) explained, “and I saw the listing for vet tech at Northeast. It was a perfect fit for me.”

Gibilisco checked out other programs in the state, including at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis and at the Omaha College of Health Careers, a college that no longer exists. She said she visited Northeast with her mom and sister and met Dr. Michael Cooper, director of the program. “I loved the campus right away,” Gibilisco said.

The Northeast vet tech program was tough, Gibilisco said. “The instructors treated us like adults. They didn’t coddle us.” In addition to a full schedule of classes, Gibilisco and the other students were expected to work in the clinic and kennels, caring for animals.

“I prefer the nursing care that a vet tech provides to the work I see veterinarians doing,” Gibilisco explained. “This was definitely the right choice for me. I would do it again.”

After graduation, Gibilisco worked for more than 20 years at the Pet Clinic PC in Omaha. During that time, she earned specialties in nutrition and behavior as well as her Fear Free Level Two certification and was able to apply those skills in her work. She then had the opportunity to move into management at the Ridgeview Animal Hospital but quickly found that she missed working directly with animals. Gibilisco is currently taking a short break from vet tech work to raise her daughter but plans to return to the profession soon.

“I have always sworn by the training I received at Northeast,” Gibilisco said, “and the education I got from Dr. Cooper and the other instructors.”

Gibilisco says her two years at Northeast cost about $12,000. She later worked with students who attended the Omaha College of Health Careers who paid about $35,000 for their training and did not seem to be as well prepared for vet tech work as she was.

As a member of Northeast’s first vet tech class, Gibilisco took her classes in a 1920s-era repurposed dairy barn, the same facilities used by students in 2020. But beginning in the fall of 2021, vet tech students will learn in a new clinic and classroom building, part of the first phase of the Nexus project.

In addition to the vet tech facility, the initial phase of construction includes a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk. Site work began in April and construction should be completed by the Fall of 2021.

The funding for the agriculture facilities will come from the College’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. With a total project cost of $22.3 million, the College has raised enough funds to begin construction; however, fundraising for the Nexus campaign will continue, as more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings.

 

In August 2019, the Acklie Charitable Foundation (ACF) announced a $5 million lead gift to the Nexus project. ACF was founded by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.

For more information on the Nexus Campaign, contact Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation, at tracyk@northeast.edu, or call (402) 844-7056. Online donations may be made through agwaternexus.com. Checks may also be mailed to Nexus Campaign, Northeast Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, NE 68702-0469.