ST. CLOUD -- Students, staff and the St. Cloud community came together Tuesday evening to say goodbye to St. Cloud Technical and Community College President Joyce Helens.

Helens has been the SCTCC President since 2006. She announced in April she'd be resigning from her position to take over as President at Great Basin College in Nevada. Helens says serving as president has been an honor and the best part about her job was listening to students who were willing to share their story.

"I've always stayed in touch with students, no matter where we are or what we are doing, to able to say how are you doing, what's happening, and hear those stories, I repeat those stories all the time. Because they are heartfelt, they are students who maybe thought they weren't college material and they are brilliant."

Helens says the students have made everything possible at SCTCC. She says without their dedication the campus would not continue to grow.

Between the hugs and goodbyes, Helens was surprised with a $500,000 donation from CentraCare Health. The donation will likely be her last donation she accepts on behalf of St. Cloud Technical and Community College. The funds are to go toward remodeling and building more biology labs at SCTCC.

David Borgert is the Director of Community and Government Relations for CentraCare Health. He says the donation will in turn help grow the healthcare workforce and give students the tools they need to succeed.

"We have workforce concerns, we need a lot of workers, the obstruction in the pipeline is the throughput capacity and these labs are the labs where people get physiology and anatomy, basic biology, these are the foundational courses for all of the healthcare workers. Students from St. Cloud State University as well as students from the technical college use these. So our ability to create, it doesn't matter what job it is, to expand the number of people available is really limited by the capacity of the bio labs here at the technical college."

The project is still in the planning phase, Lori Kloos is the Vice President of Administration at SCTCC, she says this summer the school plans to hire an architect to help design the remodel.

"The goal would be by next spring we can actually start the renovation."

Kloos says the school hopes to have some concept designs to share by the end of the summer.

With small projects and large projects constantly happening at St. Cloud Technical and Community College, Helens says the school will continue to be successful after she leaves.

"I think we've been successful because we've had strong teams who were really focused on the goal, that's never going to change. We have plans in place now and they don't need me here to accomplish them.  The team knows what they are doing, we are a part of the community, the community supports us, and the next level of excellence will come and go, and there will be another new president and another new president."

Helens' last day at SCTCC will be July 31st. She'll take over at Great Basin College August 1st.

CentraCare presents donation check for biology lab renovation to SCTCC (Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)