Distinguished Alumni Award - 2022

Kricket Koehn

Each year, we recognize a truly outstanding Wisconsin Technical College graduate. It is very satisfying to read the nominations describing the great work and lives of our successful graduates. From the nominations, we select one extraordinary person based on five criteria.

Those criteria are:

  • The role that a technical college education played in the nominee's career and personal life;
  • the nominee's accomplishments in his/her professional field;
  • the nominee's community involvement;
  • his or her support for the technical college system; and, finally,
  • the nominee's commitment to continuing education and life-long learning.

This Year's Winner - Kricket Koehn, Nicolet Area Technical College

  1. Personal

    Kricket Koehn was the first person in her family to go to college. After graduating from Rhinelander High School in 2011, she decided to attend Nicolet College. “I worked hard in my classes at Nicolet and loved it,” Koehn recalls. She enjoyed being able to live at home while being able to attend college. Looking back, this first-generation college graduate knew that going to college was not going to be easy. One of the biggest challenges was paying for her education. Part of the reason she chose Nicolet College is because it is close to home and affordable. “Attending Nicolet College allowed me to save money and receive a quality education without going into debt,” she adds.

    Koehn also loved the small class sizes and individual attention she received from her instructors here at Nicolet College. She balanced her classes with a couple of jobs. One of those jobs was at Northwoods Family Dental in Rhinelander, where she had been a patient since she was 13-years-old. She job shadowed, worked as a front desk receptionist, and even had the opportunity to do some dental assisting.

    As a student, Koehn received scholarships from the Nicolet College Foundation, and says, “Receiving a scholarship is a feeling that can’t be described, but it’s like someone is taking a burden away from you, so the student can make an impact on someone else’s life.”

    Arguably, Nicolet College played an even more important role in Koehn’s personal life because she met her now husband while she was a Nicolet student. She recalls first seeing Alex when they both studied in one of the buildings on campus, and two weeks later they were dating. The couple married in 2019.

  2. Occupation

    When Dr. Koehn was a student at Nicolet College from 2011-2013, she always said her goal was to come back to Rhinelander and serve the people of this community as a dentist. That’s exactly what she did. Out of her school of dentistry graduating class of 100 students, Dr. Koehn says she is one of only two alumni to open their own dental practice.

    “I am passionate about the care I provide and hold myself to the highest standard to incorporate new dental technology in northern Wisconsin and to help patients with dental anxiety feel comfortable in the dental office,” Koehn says.

    Dr. Koehn is a member of the American Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, the Wisconsin Dental Association, and the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry.

  3. Community

    “My biggest goal is to give back to the community. I moved back to my hometown to start my career,” Dr. Koehn explains. In 2019, she not only returned to Rhinelander, but she also returned to the very same clinic where she worked when she was a student at Nicolet College. Soon after that, she bought the practice, which now employs 10 people, two of whom graduated from Nicolet College and two others who graduated from different Wisconsin technical colleges.

    Dr. Koehn participates in a program called Donated Dental Services and provides free dental care to people in need. She also volunteers for Mission of Mercy and takes part in an annual event to provide free dental care.

    Going to the dentist can cause a lot of anxiety, so Dr. Koehn brought in a helper named Charlie. He’s a therapy dog who helps patients calm down, which lowers their blood pressure. Dr. Koehn says the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel also visits a local nursing home with her and puts a smile on everyone’s faces.

  4. Wisconsin Technical College System

    Dr. Koehn provides job shadowing opportunities for Nicolet College students, and she and her husband are looking for more ways to give back. In the spring term of 2020, Dr. Koehn started volunteering to review and score scholarship applications for the Nicolet College Foundation. In 2021, she became a donor. Dr. Koehn also volunteered to attend the Nicolet College Foundation’s donor stewardship event this fall to speak with donors one-on-one about the value of her education at Nicolet College, how donor support through the Foundation helped her reach her goals, and how the philanthropic spirit of others inspired her to become a donor.

  5. Continuing Education

    Dr. Koehn graduated from Nicolet College with an Associate of Science Liberal Arts degree in 2013 and transferred to UW Oshkosh, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2015. She then attended Marquette University School of Dentistry, where she earned a D.D.S. in 2019. “Nicolet College set me up for lifelong learning. The career I picked is always changing because of new technology, so you have to adapt and be willing to learn,” says Koehn.

    Dr. Koehn’s path to accomplishing her own goals and giving back to the community in which she was raised, started at Nicolet College. She is proud to be a Nicolet College alumna, and with the current workforce shortage, she wants to do as much as she can to show others in the community the critical role Nicolet College plays in the Northwoods. She says whether it’s preparing students to enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year university or college, Nicolet College is a vital part of the Northwoods. She explains, “Nicolet College gives people opportunities, and the College gives back to the community. Nicolet made it easy for doors to open for me.”

Former Award Winners

Distinguished Alumni Award
Year Member College
1998 Mark Senti Chippewa Valley
1999 Earl Mihlbauer Gateway
2000 Marilyn Grainger Waukesha County
2001 Vernon Jung, Jr. Moraine Park
2002 Todd LoCascio Northeast WI
2003 Don Jobe Western
2004 Robin Roberts Madison College
2005 Allan Kehl Gateway
2006 Donna Voigt Waukesha County
2007 Brent Kindred Northeast WI
2007 Mary Krueger Northcentral
2008 David Funkhouser Waukesha County
2009 Mark Schmitz Madison College
2010 Barbara Brown Moraine Park
2011 Guy Bradshaw Gateway
2012 Scott Glinski Mid-State
2013 Jeff Urlaub Chippewa Valley
2014 Scott Groholski Mid-State
2015 Lee Lo Northcentral
2016 Jeff & Brian Wieser Western
2017 Dr. Adina Ness Madison College
2018 Larry Turba Mid-State
2019 Dan Hartwig Lakeshore
2020 Steve Peterson Moraine Park
2020 Wayne Bushman Mid-State
2021 Ousmane Kabré Madison College
2022 Kricket Koehn Nicolet Area Technical College