March 2017 newsletter
Learn how St. Catherine University is turning unpaid internships into paid ones to help students who can’t afford to work for free and how Concordia University uses emergency financial support to get struggling students through to graduation. Then explore the diverse talents of six recent alums as they pursue their post-college dreams.
When applying for their first jobs out of college, graduates are often expected to have work experience as well as academic experience. This can be hard for students who need to support themselves financially while in college. Frequently internships are unpaid and therefore become a low priority — putting these students at a disadvantage when applying for jobs.
Financially supporting students during internships can make all the difference. By paying students interning through their Career Ready programs, St. Catherine University is opening the door to the internship experience to more students. “As a lower income student this program makes all the difference in my résumé building. I cannot afford to work for free,” one student at St. Kate’s said. “A lot of lower-income students go through their undergrad internship-free because they can’t afford the financial hit — leaving them disadvantaged post-graduation.”
Expectations on graduates have changed in recent years and D’Ann Urbaniak Lesch, the director of St. Kate’s Center for Community Work and Learning, sees it in St Kate’s students. “Our students know and have heard they need experience on their résumés. It’s not enough to have a degree anymore,” Urbaniak Lesch said. “They need to be able to show they have transferable skills.”
The university’s Career Ready internships are community-based internships for juniors and seniors with financial need. St. Kate’s pays the students for their work at community partner organizations and supports their learning experience through workshops and reflections. The program is supported in part by a grant from the Grant Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. Their approach to internships is designed around equity — the financial aid office works with the Center for Community Work and Learning to select students who have a gap in their financial aid package and in turn the center works with students to connect them with community partners. One semester’s data of students participating in Career Ready showed that 62 percent identified as students of color, 68 percent were Pell grant recipients, and 47 percent identified as first generation college students.
Career Ready internships are housed in the Center for Community Work and Learning, which focuses on community engagement through service-learning. “Having Career Ready has not only benefited our students, but also our community relations and community partners,” said Urbaniak Lesch. “If we have service-learning at a community partner site and it’s going well, we can now go back to that partner and invite them to apply for a paid intern.”
Many of the interns receive course credit, income, career workshops, facilitated reflection and work experience at the same time. These common elements of undergraduate education are often separate — at St. Kate’s they’re all part of the Career Ready Internships. “This structure recognizes the connection between and combined value of their curricular and co-curricular experiences,” explained Urbaniak Lesch. “It acknowledges the reality that many of our students need ongoing paid work in order to be in college and eventually graduate. When an internship experience can be a part of that reality in ways that don't pull them in multiple directions to the detriment of their undergraduate education, it is a ‘win’ for everyone.”
By Tom Lancaster
Everyone wants college students to complete their degrees, to get to the finish line. But sometimes life happens — and obstacles emerge that can cause a student to stumble. Concordia University, St. Paul is using new outside funding to provide grants and other support for students who are closing in on their degrees but need a bit more help to reach their goal. The efforts at Concordia University were featured alongside others at Saint Paul College in a piece that Erin Hinrichs wrote recently for MinnPost, the nonprofit online news source covering Minnesota. Here’s an excerpt from that in-depth article.
For Pakhoua Vang, 21, the transition from Como Park Senior High in St. Paul to Concordia University was fairly simple. The campus sat just three miles southwest of her alma mater, where she’d participated in a program called College Possible that had helped her prepare for the ACT exam and apply for scholarships. Plus, she already knew a lot of students on campus, she says. Then, her freshman year, she was assigned an adviser who met with her a couple of times each month to talk about things like what major she was interested in pursuing, what scholarships she could apply for, how her studies were going and what she wanted to get out of her college experience. Along the way, she acquired a faculty adviser who served as a mentor as well.
This spring, she’ll be completing her degree in international studies with a minor in Hmong studies. She spent an entire year studying abroad in South Korea and is currently serving as president of the Hmong and Global Student clubs.
But Vang says the start of her senior year was marked by a period of financial uncertainty that made her question whether she’d even be able to complete her degree. After her parents’ housing situation changed, she no longer qualified for some of the financial aid she’d been relying on.
“I had to quickly find jobs that would adjust to my schedule,” she says, noting that even with two on-campus jobs at 15 hours a week, she wasn’t able to cover her tuition.
In her moment of crisis, she was referred to a faculty member who oversees a small pot of emergency funds that help students weather unexpected roadblocks to graduation. With the assistance of some additional scholarships, Vang says she was able to pay off the majority of her tuition and is now looking to continue her studies at the University of St. Thomas.
Traditionally, there’s been a lot of focus on the barriers students face in accessing college and then in persevering through their first year. However, students like Vang — who seemingly sail through that initial year, but then come up against a barrier that threatens to derail them when they’re on the home stretch — are garnering more attention as well.
In an effort to support students who have completed at least three quarters of their program requirements but are at risk of dropping out, two Minnesota postsecondary institutions — Saint Paul College and Concordia University, in St. Paul — have received grant funding to implement added supports for these “near completers,” with a focus on low-income students and students of color in programs that feed into high-demand careers.
Trust us — Erin Hinrichs’ full article is definitely worth reading. Click here to reach MinnPost’s site to do just that.
Everyone has at least one talent — whether they know it or not. Sometimes it emerges over time on its own while with others it needs to be coaxed out. Wherever a talent falls on that spectrum, college experiences have the power to help students nurture and hone their passions. This month we’re happy to share the stories of several alums whose talents have already taken them far afield.
- Katia Iverson ’12, Augsburg College – refugee resettlement coordinator
- Brit Fryer ’15, Carleton College – independent filmmaker
- Collin Goodspeed ’14, The College of St. Scholastica – ad agency production assistant
- Emily Seelen ’13, Gustavus Adolphus College – water quality doctoral student
- Rosemary Valero-O'Connell ’16, Minneapolis College of Art and Design – comic artist
- Bryan Charles Moore ’13, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota – professional dancer
Katia Iverson ’12 has come to embrace her not-so-common desire—an inexplicable desire—to be around people unlike herself. Likely related to her curiosity about culture and her passion for service and diversity, this desire has been nurtured since childhood by parents who she says are “faithful givers with incredible hearts for service to others.” They are her strongest encouragers in her chosen field—work with refugee resettlement—which she still sees as her “dream job.”
Drawn to Augsburg by the authenticity of her first campus visit (less than glamorous, she says), and because she perceived “no barriers between the school and the city,” Iverson became immersed in service-oriented thinking early, particularly as part of the first Augsburg group of Bonner Leaders, a national student leadership program.
She was amazed at how her Bonner placements (internships with community organizations) informed and reflected the learning in her classes. By the time she was a senior, she knew it would be important that her placement that year look like a job she’d want to do in the “real world.”
Brit Fryer ’15 wasn’t going to waste his time passing out business cards while he was at the Sundance Film Festival. He was there to watch movies.
Fryer was one of 15 young filmmakers chosen for the 2016 Sundance Ignite program, a yearlong fellowship aimed at fostering emerging voices in film. He lived with strangers, Real World–style, for a week while he was attending the Sundance Institute’s signature festival in Park City, Utah—a career-launching celebration of independent filmmaking started by Robert Redford in 1985.
“A couple of other fellows told me, ‘Oh, I only got around to watching two movies. I was busy networking,’ ” Fryer says, incredulously. “What? We’ve been here for seven days! This is a movie festival!”
In addition to round-the-clock screenings, Ignite fellows enjoyed plenty of VIP perks at the January gala: dinner with filmmaking mentors, exclusive Q&As with directors, and information sessions on everything from pitching proposals to raising funds via Kickstarter. During his week at Sundance, Fryer mingled with Redford, Kevin Smith, and Lena Dunham, among others.
Graduate Collin Goodspeed turned his love of film into a career in advertising
Ever since he was a kid, Collin Goodspeed, ’14, wanted to make movies. In high school, he watched cult classic A Clockwork Orange and was absolutely taken with its stylistic choices. In truth, it inspired a curiosity about everything that goes into creating film.
"I started digging into [Stanley] Kubrick's movies, the Coen brothers, Martin Scorsese and from there I began studying the minutiae of film," he said. "I got into scriptwriting, cinematography and other elements; I remember thinking that if I could figure out which elements were being blended together that I could replicate it."
This love of motion pictures set Goodspeed on a path to The College of St. Scholastica, and the School of Arts and Letters.
Settling in Duluth
For Goodspeed, finding a major to fit his passion took a little time. Like most parents of creative kids, his mother hoped he would be able find a way turn his technical talent into marketable skill.
In Emily Seelen’s first semester at Gustavus Adolphus College, she led a group project that focused on reducing waste on campus. Systematically measuring and testing each vending machine in every building, Seelen and her peers determined that an unnecessary amount of energy was being spent on machines with infrequent visits. In a short time, these machines’ lights were dimmed or removed completely, significantly saving energy across the campus.
Now, seven years later, the Gustavus alum is conducting research at Umeå University in Sweden after receiving funding through the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide program, which was approved and partially funded by the Swedish Research Council.
Overseeing that initial class project her first year, Gustavus chemistry and environmental studies professor Jeff Jeremiason did not take long to recognize Seelen as a stand-out student and quickly asked her to work in his lab to help conduct research. During the rest of her time at Gustavus, Seelen’s passion and determination continued to open doors to opportunity after opportunity.
“At the beginning of her journey Emily did not realize how unique and talented she truly is,” Jeremiason said. “She is an extremely curious student and an avid learner with a passion to make a real difference, an exceptional combination.”
What do you currently do for a living?
I'm currently a full-time freelancer! Right now my bread and butter is a graphic novel I'm working on with Mariko Tamaki (Skim, This One Summer) for First Second, as well as an upcoming independent project that I can't say much about yet. Those two things make up about 75% of my work week, and the rest gets filled up with whatever smaller projects come along. I've done work for BOOM! Studios and DC Comics, as well as editorial illustration, cover work for comics and newspapers, custom screenprints, etc.
What is your favorite thing about your work?
I'm not being at all disingenuous when I say there is next to nothing about my job that I'm not absolutely in love with. I draw comics for a living, which is a fantastic privilege in itself, but the fact that they're comics I believe in and stories I'm proud to be telling is more than I ever could have asked for. I've gotten to collaborate with people whose work means the world to me, that I've admired since I was a child, and I feel astonishingly lucky to get to call them colleagues.
Although it’s early fall, professional dancer Bryan Charles Moore ’13 is already dreaming of a white Christmas.
In November, the national tour of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas will begin and women in red velvet dresses and men in top hats will be twirling across the stage to the tune of that iconic Christmas song. Children will wear their best outfits, couples will forget their quarrels, and all will be merry and bright for a night at the theatre—and Moore will be in the center of it all.
“White Christmas is my favorite show and a great family to be a part of,” Moore said. “It’s heartwarming, the choreography is challenging, and I look forward to doing it every night.”
This is Moore’s second national tour of White Christmas and he will dance eight shows per week for eight weeks in six cities. Before 2016 rehearsals began, Moore returned to his alma mater’s Winona Campus to teach master tap, musical theatre, and contemporary dance classes at Saint Mary’s Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts (MCA) on Oct. 2 and Oct. 9.
Interested in more alumni stories? Check out these past spotlights of alums whose studies cover a wide range of academic disciplines:
- Alums find career success by pursuing their passions, June 2016
- Recent grads find their niche, Dec. 2015
- Alumni turn dreams into goals into careers, Oct. 2015
Although our 17 member institutions awarded 29 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in Minnesota in the 2015-16 academic year, they awarded a larger proportion of bachelor’s degrees in several key areas of study including:
- 50 percent of physical sciences degrees (chemistry, physics, geology and astronomy)
- 48 percent of history degrees
- 41 percent of foreign languages degrees
- 36 percent of mathematics and statistics degrees
- 36 percent of health professions degrees
Read the full Bachelor's Degrees Granted report.
Carleton's alumni summit, student contest highlight entrepreneurial ventures
Carleton College’s recent “Entrepreneurs’ Summit” combines alumni mentoring to help burgeoning ideas, nine student teams vie for two $10,000 grants.
Saint Ben’s is a top producing school for Fulbright awards for third consecutive year
The College of Saint Benedict is tied for 25th among bachelor’s institutions with four women who won Fulbright awards for 2016-17.
Saint John’s Alcuin Library: An Inspired Transformation
Changes at Saint John’s University strengthen student experience and Catholic intellectual tradition emphasizing faith and reason.
University of St. Thomas School of Engineering adds civil engineering major
The new program will make the University of St. Thomas the only private school in Minnesota offering a B.S. in civil engineering.
Hamline University women graduates hold historic place in the state
For Women’s History Month, Hamline University recognizes its historic graduates, Emily and Elizabeth Sorin, who, in 1859, were the first graduates from any college in the state.
Concordia University, St. Paul moves to 120 credit hours
In a move that’s responsive to the competitive higher education marketplace, Concordia University, St. Paul is lowering minimum graduation requirements for all bachelors’ programs to 120 credit hours.
Augsburg becomes 'Augsburg University' effective September 1
The change reflects the reality that Augsburg College already offers nine graduate degree programs in addition to its more than 50 undergraduate degree programs.
Macalester alumna named WCCO-TV Excellent Educator
Macalester College grad Eliza Rasheed uses the theater program at Linwood Monroe Arts Plus Upper Campus to teach students how to deal with injustice.
Concordia receives NSF grant
Concordia College (Moorhead) received a $960,000 grant from the National Science Foundation through the Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program.
Saint Mary’s announces Mayo Clinic collaboration, $5 million gift, expansion in Rochester
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is collaborating with Mayo Clinic on a new physician assistant program. A related $5 million gift will bring about a Rochester expansion.
Gustavus among top Fulbright Scholar producers
Gustavus Adolphus College ranks highly on the annual list of liberal arts colleges that produce the most faculty Fulbright Scholars.
Moonlight writer says St. Olaf Choir song ‘shaped his life’
Moonlight writer Tarell Alvin McCraney tells Out Magazine that the St. Olaf Choir’s performance of “City Called Heaven” is among 10 songs that shaped his life.
Day at the Capitol an eye-opening experience
St. Catherine University students wield influence with their stories in support of the Minnesota State Grant program.
St. Scholastica leads in math teacher development
Faculty members at The College of St. Scholastica are reaching out to help elementary and middle school math teachers excel in the classroom.
New issue of parent newsletter available
The spring issue of The Bridge: Parent News is now available and features an article on finding the real cost of college. Please share this useful resource with parents of college-bound students.
Counselors' Breakfast scheduled for May 4 in Woodbury
Admission directors at our colleges invite high school counselors and others who work with students on college planning to a free informational breakfast. Learn what’s going on at our institutions and get answers to your questions. Registration runs through April 27.
Minnesota Private College Week registration opens April 1
Students and families can begin registering April 1. This year’s event runs June 26-30 with sessions held twice daily, from 9:30 to noon and 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., on all 17 of our campuses.
Explore summer enrichment programs at our colleges
Our colleges host many programs for middle and high school students during the summer, with several offered every year. From athletic to academic, there’s something to appeal to almost any student. View the 2017 offerings at the link above.
2015-16 degrees earned reports released
The Council’s annual reports on bachelor’s and graduate degrees earned by students attending a Minnesota college or university have been released.
How Minnesota colleges are teaming up to give students a cheaper path to 4-year degrees
Minnesota Public Radio, Feb. 20, 2017
Augsburg College to become a university in fall
Star Tribune, Mar. 2, 2017
Minnesota collaborative builds campus cultures of assessment
Association of American Colleges & Universities, Mar. 3, 2017
Economist at St. Paul's Concordia University gauges the economic impact of immigrants in Minnesota
Star Tribune, Mar. 11, 2017
A fumble on a key FAFSA tool, and a failure to communicate
The New York Times, Mar. 14, 2017
What Trump’s budget outline would mean for higher ed
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Mar. 16, 2017