Architect for Change: Jarred VanHorn’s Inspiring Journey
Jarred VanHorn, a workforce scholar and mental health advocate, experienced many highs and lows throughout his journey to find the right school.
After graduating high school, Jarred initially enrolled in a four-year college. He attended the Colorado School of Mines and the University of St. Thomas where he studied computer science and business. However, he decided that neither school fit perfectly.
Eventually, Jarred enrolled in Dakota County Technical College where he has found great success. At DCTC, Jarred earned a 4.0 GPA as a double major in Architectural Technology and Technical Management.
The interactive learning environment at DCTC was key in attracting Jarred to the Architectural Technology program.
“The hands-on approach that doesn’t focus on reading textbooks and does focus on career-oriented skill development [is what interested me in the Architectural Technology program,]” Jarred said. “For example, learning to use 10+ different tools/software that make me much more marketable to employers, the internship credit at the second semester of the second year, and the focus on hands-on learning with models.”
The hands-on approach coupled with Jarred’s analytical mind made the program a perfect fit for him.
“I’ve always been interested in computer-aided drafting, 3D modeling, and architecture, but at DCTC I fell in love with those subjects,” Jarred said during a student spotlight interview. “I’m a perfectionist, whose brain is always working out ways to maximize efficiency. I can solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and other math problems in my head quicker than the average person can using a calculator.”
In the program, Jarred found early success as an architect. He designed a 3D model of a renovation for the DCTC Dental Assistance program. The college approved Jarred’s design for construction after review.
Jarred also works at LUHA Build, a full-service construction material supplier start-up. At LUHA Build, he constructs automated systems that simplify and eliminate manual work. Jarred also offers insights for the strategic planning and company vision based on his commitment to maximum efficiency, and he hopes to see LUHA Build become a multi-billion-dollar company one day.
Jarred received the New Century Workforce Scholarship from Phi Theta Kappa. He also earned a spot as a member of the All-Minnesota Academic Team for his success as a workforce scholar.
DCTC also recognized Jarred as one of the college’s 2023 Dave Schroder Outstanding Students, given in honor of the college’s first president.
Despite his success as a workforce student, Jarred acknowledges that stigma negatively impacts students like him.
“This stigma is the biggest issue we face in the tech industry because it puts high school graduates off from going to a trade/tech program with extremely in-demand jobs,” Jarred said. “This stigma also affects employers as many employers only will hire those with four-year degrees. In the past few years, this stigma has been reduced more and more, but it’s still there.”
As part of his community involvement, Jarred is working with a strategic committee to combat community college stigma and attract high school students to community colleges.
“I’m working on the strategic enrollment committee at DCTC where we decide what strategies we should go with to increase enrollment,” Jarred said. “One of the ideas I had was to have hands-on demonstrations in high schools to get these hands-on learners passionate before they even put a foot in the college’s door.”
In addition to his success as a workforce scholar and advocate, Jarred is a passionate advocate for mental health.
“I learned that without proper mental health and wellbeing, academic success is nearly impossible,” Jarred said. “My experiences struggling with depression, insomnia, and sickness in Colorado pushed me further along the path of learning and growing in mental health.”
Jarred founded Seeds of Success, a non-profit with the mission of empowering children and young adults from diverse backgrounds and circumstances. The non-profit will accomplish this by providing them with access to basic needs and mental health services.
“My goal is to create systemic change in American policy and culture surrounding mental health and child education through my work with nonprofits and legislators,” he said.
Jarred hopes that Seeds for Success will partner with schools to help identify the warning signs present in children who are victims of abuse, violence, poverty, or neglect.
Jarred credits DCTC with changing his view on higher education.
“I learned a lot from the past three years, but the most significant thing I learned was how important mental health and other basic needs are when it comes to being successful in college,” Jarred said.