Backen helps others find success

MINOT, N.D. – Maggie (Frey) Backen ’09 forgot to look for a job after she graduated from Minot State University.

“I really loved my job at the time,” she said. “I did my student teaching. I went through graduation. And then I was done with school. There was nobody saying, hey, go look for a job, and I guess I forgot I was supposed to.”

And while her career at the Mentor Network — today known as Sevita —was not teaching in a traditional school setting, it did follow an important vein in her life: helping others. From direct support professional, to teaching and management positions at the Quentin N. Burdick Job Corps Center, to her current position as Minot programs director for Dakota College at Bottineau (DCB), Backen thrives when she’s providing others the resources to reach their goals.   

“I actually remember when Dr. Pijning (Ernst Pijning, Minot State professor of history) was my advisor in college and he asked what my plans were after graduation — he asked if thought about becoming a guidance counselor at a school,” she said. “I laughed at him and was like, nope, but thank you.

“But that’s what I really enjoy doing, helping people succeed or looking for opportunities where they may not have looked yet.”

Today, Backen blends her education degree with her administration expertise at Dakota College at Bottineau on Minot State’s campus.

“So right now I help oversee the students with our programs, both at Minot State and online. I also help with career advising and teach a couple classes,” she said. “And then we are getting ready to launch the CTE center downtown.”

Minot State and DCB have worked closely together on the project, and the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center will be utilized for workforce development programs. The dental assistant program is slated to follow in Fall 2024, with dental hygiene beginning in 2025.

“Right now, they’re in the middle of construction and that’s so exciting,” she said. “Really, it’s all about workforce development. That’s what the community needs and that’s what we’re trying to answer.”

Backen’s investment in Minot and DCB is a result of happenstance. The Mott native only ended up a Minot State student to avoid a high school math class.   

“It was so random,” she laughed. “Somebody showed up to recruit, and the school announced that someone from Minot State was there if anyone wanted to meet with them. It happened to line up with my math class. And I went, and Minot State sounded awesome, it sounded fun, and I thought, hey, why not?”

And while her path to the University was a gamble, her involvement on campus was immediate as she became a student ambassador and found her fit.

“Everybody says their college has their own community, but Minot State really does have such a strong one,” she said. “Everyone knew who I was, the teachers, even the cafeteria.”

“That was just awesome. Growing up in a small town, coming to the big city seemed so scary at first. To be able to find that sense of community and know I wasn’t a lost person. I loved it.”


About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 06/06/23   

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