Retiree Spotlight: Sue Flannigan

Military & veteran services coordinator served campus community for more than four decades

Sue Flannigan, 61, the military and veteran services coordinator at Inver Hills Community College, is retiring March 1, 2022, after nearly 42 years making sure veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their families find success in higher education.

Sue began working at Inver Hills in December 1980. That same year Ronald Reagan was elected the 40th president of the United States, the arcade game Pac-Man was released, CNN began broadcasting, and the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team defeated the Soviet Union in the “Miracle on Ice.”

During Sue’s leadership, the Military & Veteran Services Office at Inver Hills has provided a comprehensive, veteran-specific array of support services, scholarships, and networking and employment opportunities while collaborating with area communities and agencies.

“We teamed up with our counselors to make sure our students who are veterans or actively serving can adapt to college life and achieve their career goals,” said Sue, who also serves as the college’s school certifying official. “Our staff, faculty, and administrators are committed to making Inver Hills one of the best community colleges in Minnesota and the nation for veterans, service members, and their families.”

Sue with the president on Lockheed C-130 Hercules
“Sue was unflagging in her service to veterans and active military personnel and their families. This included supporting them directly and mobilizing the rest of us to provide a supportive college community. For me, this included everything from walking in parades to riding in a C-130 to a Veterans Affairs event in Duluth. “
Michael Berndt
Inver Hills Community College
Dakota County Technical College

Inver Hills was declared a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon (BTYR) company in 2011. The college has been consistently ranked nationally by Best for Vets for Two-Year Schools:

#5 in 2020
#20 in 2019
#21 in 2018
#6 in 2017
#3 in 2016
#6 in 2015
#3 in 2014
#3 in 2013

In April 2021, Military Friendly® announced that Inver Hills Community College made the official list of schools having earned the 2021–2022 Military Spouse Friendly® School designation. Institutions earning the Military Spouse Friendly® School designation were evaluated using public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. Learn more.

Sue was instrumental in establishing a spacious Military & Veterans Lounge in Heritage Hall and the John H. Thill Veterans Resource Center in the College Center. Over the years, she has conducted numerous Veterans Pinning ceremonies in conjunction with the college’s May commencement.

Higher education philosophy

“All students are unique, and their needs may differ from one to another. It is our job to listen, advise and support while creating an atmosphere for them to be successful through student services support and in the classroom.”
Sue Flannigan
Military and Veteran Services Coordinator
Inver Hills Community College

More about Sue…

Originally from St, Paul, Minnesota, Sue graduated from St. Paul Central High School, Class of 1979. She has been married to her husband, Pat, for 38 years. Sue and Pat have two adult children, Patrick and Kayla.

Patrick and his wife, Marni, have two children, Kylie, 13, a fantastic gymnast, and Harper, 3, who’s following in her sister’s footsteps.

Kayla and her boyfriend, Chayne, have a 2-year-old son, Kael, who is a very busy boy.

“We have a 7-yeaer-old chocolate Lab/Chesapeake retriever named Zoey,” Sue added. “She rules the house, a role she has earned because she is a rescue dog.”

Sue played competitive softball for many years and also played volleyball. “Now, I am vegetable gardening, reading, and playing Bingo!”

Sue, Pat, and Zoey reside in Oakdale, Minnesota.

Sue Flannigan Receives MNARNG Outstanding Service Award

Minnesota Army National Guard Education Services Office recognizes military and veteran services coordinator’s 38 years of service

Sue Flannigan, military and veteran services coordinator at Inver Hills Community College, has received the first-ever Outstanding Service Award from the Minnesota Army National Guard Education Services Office. Justin Falness, MNARNG education services officer, presented Sue with the award Friday afternoon, February 12, 2021.

Learn more by reading the Inver Hills News story.

Colleague perspectives…

I love this quote because we have worked together for so many years and have truly been through a lot together. Having people that you care about and working with them for decades really is a motivating factor in our professional lives!

I’ve been so lucky to have a job that is motivating because I care so much about the students, and also about the people I have been lucky enough to work with. Sue is at the top of that list.

“Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about.​”
— Sheryl Sandberg
LeAnne Schmidt, MS, LPC
Inver Hills Community College

Sue is a true student veteran advocate, working with the Veterans Administration, DOD, and veteran organizations. She worked to change policy and to understand new regulations which ensured the success of students. As a peer she provided empathy, leadership, and confidentiality to those who confided in her.

Sue, you deserve all the very best in this next chapter. Happy Retirement!

Kathy Bachman
MDVA Higher Education Regional Coordinator
Dakota County Technical College

Let’s  get it done.

Grace Jones
Bookstore Customer Service Specialist
Inver Hills Community College

Inver Hills Veterans Pinning Ceremony 2019 gallery

Inver Hills Veterans Pinning Ceremony 2018 gallery

Sue Flannigan Q & A

Veterans Pinning Ceremony 2016
What inspired you to serve military veterans, active-duty personnel, and their families for more than four decades at Inver Hills?

My father served in the Navy, and when he went back to school on his GI Bill, he had a hard time getting the Veterans Administration to pay for college. He told me all the stories about how he struggled—and when I was asked by my boss (Gene Eddy at that time) if I wanted to work with veterans, I jumped at the chance.

I never wanted veterans to have to struggle after their selfless commitment to serve our country. It is our duty to assure them that we will help and care for them during their transition forward from the military culture as there are barriers that most people don’t have to deal. We need also help by bringing all their military skills to the forefront as a means make sure they succeed as students.

How has higher education changed for the better since you started your career?

When I first started in 1980, there were on- and off- campus classes as well as Saturday classes. Fast forward to now and we have online classes (synchronous to asynchronous), and you can earn a degree totally online.

What was your most rewarding achievement during your time as the college’s veteran’s coordinator?

It is difficult to pinpoint one thing because there are many:

Creating the Military & Veteran Services program
Establishing the Military & Veterans Lounge
Setting up donations and outreach from various veteran organizations for students
Becoming a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon company
Putting in place all the various support and events, including:

  • Military & Veteran Orientation
  • Priority Registration
  • Veterans Pinning Ceremony
  • Military & Veterans parking

However, the most rewarding achievement would be seeing students you have mentored throughout their time at Inver Hills go on to successful careers. Many of those former students are now working with veterans themselves!

Three words that describe you as a military veterans advocate:

What is (are) your favorite memory (memories) from your time working at Inver Hills?

Two things:

1) I had the opportunity to go on a few Educator Tours with the Army and Marine Corps. I spent a week going through mini-boot camps at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, the Marine Corps Depot, Camp Pendleton, and Miramar.

It was very eye opening and gave me great insight for when I’m working with students who are veterans or in military. For those who are familiar with the Marine Corps, I stepped on those famous Yellow Footprints. I went with Rob Harris, who is a counselor at Inver Hills, and Kathy Bachman from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Higher Education Program. I thought Rob had a new career with the Marine Corps; he was able to complete all the drills.

2) Staff and faculty picnics! This is where a day was set aside for all faculty and staff to come together. It was a time to meet and learn about others, played games, and have great BBQs and beverages.

What advice would you give college staff seeking to work with veterans to advance their higher education goals?

To listen, learn, and understand the military culture, including the barriers and skills students bring to the college. That process starts with building the relationships needed for students to succeed not only in education, but in life.

What will you miss most about working at Inver Hills?

My peers and my students—they are the ones who kept me going, and I am forever grateful to all of them. I have learned so much from them.

What are you looking forward to most in your retirement?

Just like anyone else, not setting an alarm, lol.  Actually, my husband and I have plans to downsize and move. We are just eager to start a journey together and, of course, having more time with our grandchildren!

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


Sue Flannigan 12 Answers

  1. Favorite kind of food: Sushi
  2. Foreign country you would most like to visit: Austria
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Got married and created a fantastic family
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Donate money: First on the list, veterans’ organizations and scholarships! 2) Buy my dream home 3) Share my winnings with family and friends
  5. Best book you’ve read lately: Safe Harbour by Danielle Steel
  6. Time period you explore if you could time travel: The future, as I would love to explore the unknown.
  7. Favorite kind of music: Country
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Bald eagle for symbolizing loyalty, truth, and honor
  9. Your favorite place in Minnesota: Dora Lake in Northome, Minnesota, and my parents’ cabins—so many great memories
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Princess Diana—I was crushed when she died.
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: How to be a successful retiree!
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Poverty, diversity, and acceptance
Learn more about Military & Veteran Services at Inver Hills by contacting:

Admissions Team
College Center

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