December 2019 newsletter
Read stories of three private college students supported by scholarships overseen by the Minnesota Private College Fund, which distributes scholarships to nearly 300 of our students each year. Then explore how The College of St. Scholastica’s new sustainability initiative is promoting the wise use of resources.
Thousands of students receive scholarships and grants that make it possible for them to attend private nonprofit colleges in our state. Here are short stories about three of them, all recipients of scholarships provided through the Minnesota Private College Fund. Supported by donations from steadfast supporters, the Fund provides scholarships that help nearly 300 students a year.
St. Catherine University ’20
Major in Public Health
Phillips Scholars Program
Tatyana Beck came to St. Catherine University as a nursing student, recognizing that the St. Paul women’s college had a top-notch reputation for its program. But she recalls that after taking her first public health course, she knew “that was exactly what I wanted. Rather than seeing individual patients, I wanted to zoom out to the community.”
“This is what I’m passionate about,” the St. Kate’s senior continues. “Public health means giving back to my community — for me that means people of color, food insecurity, homelessness and issues of health disparity.”
Indeed, Beck is so passionate about public health that she committed to a five-year program: one year after earning her bachelor’s degree, she will also have a master’s in public health, with a concentration in community health.
Along the way, she has “loved epidemiology classes — taking statistical data and interpreting it to solve problems and recognize patterns.” St. Kate’s first-year course, “The Reflective Woman,” also made a big impact on her. “That was my introduction to social justice,” Beck says. “It was a real eye-opener.”
Beck has worked her way through school as a resident adviser in the dorms as well as a tutor-coordinator for the America Reads program and an assistant in the Center for Women.
But it’s the Phillips Scholars program that made the biggest difference, she says. As a student dedicated to community service, she won a $16,500, two-year scholarship, part of which was to go toward developing and implementing a summer project. The generosity of the Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota makes the program possible.
While the financial gift allowed her to be “less of a worker and more of a student,” it was the project part that changed her life, she says. Working with domestic violence shelter Women’s Advocates, Beck implemented an academic empowerment program for kids from low-income households. Says Beck, “Thinking of the communities I’ve been a part of and how I could contribute to them opened up for me a very necessary treasure chest of memories.”
Hamline University ’20
Major in Chemistry; minor in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Certificate in Forensic Science
After a high school career-development course in forensic science, “I was hooked,” says Jess Echeverria of Rosemount, Minn. That made looking for colleges easy, as hometown school Hamline University has a well-respected program in forensic science.
She was also attracted to Hamline’s smaller community. “There are so many people at Big Ten universities, it’s overwhelming,” she says. “At Hamline I can talk with professors any time to get the help I need.” She appreciates the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the college as well.
Like Echeverria, all Galileo scholars must study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects at Minnesota Private Colleges; these institutions award 26 percent of all STEM degrees earned in the state. After working in a lab job after graduation to gain more experience, she hopes to earn a master’s degree in chemistry and forensic science.
Now a senior, Echeverria is studying criminology and forensic science along with chemistry. She has played saxophone in the campus jazz ensemble, taken part in chemistry club and a philanthropic society, and volunteered with neighborhood grade schoolers. And she does all of that on top of working at Target 30 hours a week.
With so many commitments to juggle, Echeverria is especially grateful for the financial assistance the Galileo Scholarship provides. “I come from a low-income family,” she says. “Being recognized for my efforts in this way has allowed me to continue my education, which is so important to me. Thanks for giving me a shot and helping get me where I want to go.”
University of St. Thomas ’21
Major in Business Administration–Real Estate Studies
Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children Scholarship
Keeshawn Aleksuk may have enrolled at the University of St. Thomas to play football, but he stayed to study business. “Because St. Thomas has such a legacy behind its program, it was a no brainer for me to study something in business,” he says.
That something turned out to be real estate, a discipline the Minnetonka, Minn., junior first became intrigued with while doing construction cleanup during high school. His inspiration? The transformed 1930s Armory building in downtown Minneapolis, for which his grandmother did interior design. “Seeing that building go from nothing to what it is today” was an exciting experience, says Aleksuk, who plans to eventually work in commercial real estate.
Meanwhile, along with taking a full load of classes, he works 30 hours a week as a housekeeper at Town and Country golf club and as a contract manual laborer. Of the latter he says, “it’s definitely a good workout.”
Back when Aleksuk was touring colleges, he wisely determined to “make sure I would love my school even if I didn’t play football.” After his freshman year, the former running back dropped out of football, but remained at a school where he “loved the atmosphere.”
“The students and faculty are so welcoming at St. Thomas. I toured some bigger schools but felt I would always be just a number there. At St. Thomas I knew I would get a solid degree and be known. Student-faculty relationships are so much more emphasized at St. Thomas,” says Aleksuk, “which allows me to connect with the material, ask questions of the professor and engage with my peers.”
Then there’s the experience of being a Ciresi Walburn scholar, a two-year leadership development program for black men. Being with “other people who understand what I’m going through has made a big difference in my life,” he says. “And seeing all the excellence and and intelligence of these men of color — we’re going to do big things with our lives.”
By Lynette Lamb
Excerpted with permission from The College of St. Scholastica. View original article.
The Benedictine Sisters have always made sure that The College of St. Scholastica is a community of good stewardship, promoting the wise use of resources.
Today that bedrock value is finding new expression through a three-year initiative called the Sustainability TREE, which stands for Teaching Responsibility and Educating for Engagement. The goal is to help the College become a regional hub for educating future leaders who are prepared to advocate for sustainable practices.
"We intend not just to educate but also to change the behaviors and cultural norms of students and other members of the St. Scholastica community," said Dr. Aileen Beard, professor of chemistry and dean of the School of Sciences. "The TREE initiative is designed to subtly change our curriculum and to provide professional development resources to faculty to understand how to do that, in such a way that every student is not just exposed to issues of sustainability but is moved to some action. They will get this in all different disciplines."
In fall 2018, the College began an academic major and minor in Sustainability Studies and the Environment. While the major is attracting a core group of committed students who seek in-depth knowledge, the College wants the Sustainability TREE project to touch all undergraduates.
Student research and independent projects are a key component.
"As students learn from their peers, the faculty and staff, and community representatives," Beard said, "they will develop the leadership skills and subject knowledge needed to effect meaningful change after they graduate."
Beard said she thinks it's actually fairly easy to incorporate consideration of sustainability into majors across the College.
"Look at nursing. Health care equity — is that a sustainability issue? Well, absolutely! Or look at economics, and business policies, and things like food deserts. All of that fits under that big sustainability umbrella, because if we can address food deserts we can also address economic mobility. We're going to address health issues. And ultimately, people will be in better shape, and if people are in better shape the Earth is going to be in better shape."
The initiative is launching amid separate activities about sustainability. In recent years the Alworth Peace and Justice Series featured six speakers who discussed sustainable living from multiple perspectives, and the Oreck Alpern Interreligious Forum offered yearlong programming on the theme of Harmony: Art, Environmental Justice, Community, and the Power of Art. A planned Junior Leadership Certificate Program for students will have a specific strand focusing on sustainability. The student club CSS Earth Action promotes sustainable living both on campus and in the wider community. Learn more at student.css.edu/earthaction.
Funded in part by a grant of $425,000 from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, Beard sees the Sustainability TREE project as mission-critical for the College. "This is emblematic of who we are. It's part of our heritage, our Benedictine values, part of our Catholic values. Pope Francis has actually defined caring for the Earth as a moral imperative."
Beyond the fit with St. Scholastica's values, "this is a perfect location for this kind of initiative," Beard said. "In northern Minnesota we've got Lake Superior, the Boundary Waters, we have clean water we want to keep clean ... (There are many) indigenous people who are a lot further along on these processes than we are, who we can learn from ... This isn't a political thing. It's not about mining or no mining, any of that. This is about making sure our practices allow for the Earth to be sustained, and for human life to be sustained. The reality is that the Earth is going to survive us; the question is, will we survive us?"
Not only the data, but the stories
Ryan Ihrke is the College's new facilitator and instructor in sustainability. He arrived in March, with a background in sustainability work in higher education and with community and faith groups.
"Being on a Benedictine campus feels comfortable," he said. His relationship with several Catholic Sisters was important to the development of his awareness of good stewardship. He attended Loyola High School in Mankato, MN, and got to know the School Sisters of Notre Dame there. After graduation he worked on a farm and retreat center they have in western Minnesota. Later he did work with the Sisters of Mercy at a similar center in Vermont.
"Being around people who are making efforts to integrate sustainability into the Catholic tradition, that was exciting to be a part of ... How passionate they are, how much they've contributed to the world and made the communities I've been a part of a better place. They do a really good job of identifying a spot and a direction to go, and meeting the needs of the community. Also, pushing each other and all of us to live a true and pure life in line with values and beliefs we hold together. Having that community piece is so important. I hope that's something I can foster here, as a staff and faculty member."
Ihrke offers professional development training for faculty on how to integrate sustainability into their curricula. He has started a Sustainability Advisory Council made up of students, faculty, staff, Sisters and people from the community. Efforts with students will include internships in the community, getting students real-world experience working with local nonprofits or businesses that want to be more sustainable, and research projects and applied efforts such as waste reduction or public awareness campaigns. He facilitated a fall leadership development retreat at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.
"When you look at these issues, they have many facets. We need to understand the data, the science of what's going on, but we also need to understand the stories of people's lives. The more we can understand each other, and integrate support of one another into our classes and our life together as a learning community, the further along toward true sustainability we'll be."
He's encouraged. "We are doing a lot of positive things already. Can we do better, and do we need to do better? Yeah. But I don't want to discount who we are as an institution, and the people who have been doing great things."
In addition, alumni have formed an affinity group, CSS Alumni for Sustainability, that strives to improve the environmental practices and sustainability of the College. The group hopes to set the College on track to achieve energy from 100 percent renewable resources as soon as possible, achieve zero waste output from all services on campus, and to educate all St. Scholastica students about the importance of sustainability.
Ever wonder how big a collective impact our 17 member colleges have on the state? Consider this:
- The combined employment of Minnesota Private Colleges would rank as the 13th largest employer in the state, totaling 13,948 employees.
- Looking only at non-governmental employers, we would rank 9th.
- Our institutional expenditures are $1.57 billion a year.
- Our payroll expenditures are $894 million a year.
- $222,700 of voluntary contributions are made to local governments annually.
- 300,000 alumni live in the state.
- 56,100 undergraduate and graduate students attend our colleges.
$5 million gift to increase aid for first-generation, low-income students
David Ignat ’63 and Eleanor Ignat help make a Carleton College education possible for first-generation and low-income students while challenging other donors to follow suit.
Open Doors 2019: Report finds study abroad remains a signature program at CSB and SJU
The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University are ranked in two categories nationally among baccalaureate schools.
Schulze School of Entrepreneurship ranked by Princeton Review
The University of St. Thomas' Schulze School of Entrepreneurship has been ranked by the Princeton Review on its list of Top Entrepreneurship Undergraduate programs.
Bethel launches initiative to eliminate textbook costs
For participating adult undergraduate programs, Bethel University's Zero Cost Course Resources Initiative eliminates the need to buy textbooks by replacing them with Open Educational Resources.
St. Olaf music professor shares insight with The New York Times
St. Olaf College Assistant Professor of Music Louis Epstein, a musicologist who also performs original children’s songs, spoke with a New York Times reporter about the music kids enjoy.
Saint Mary’s receives $1.7 million grant for School of Education Character and Virtue Initiative
With a grant from the Kern Family Foundation, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota will develop an enhanced curriculum for educational leaders that places a strong emphasis on moral character, virtue and ethics.
Acclaimed author Tommy Orange visits St. Scholastica
First-year students at The College of St. Scholastica learned about the creative writing process from best-selling novelist Tommy Orange during his recent visit to campus.
A trip for truth
Hamline University's Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center sponsored an exploratory experience for campus community members.
Student Danny Reinan and English Professor John Schmit discuss pronouns on WCCO Radio
Professor John Schmit said that student pronouns are now in professors' official rosters at Augsburg University. "We have to think about how people want to be referred to."
Fulbright scholarship brings CSP professor to Cambodia
Dr. Steve Mandersheid, associate professor of organizational management at Concordia University, St. Paul, taught a graduate-level class to students in Cambodia as part of his Fulbright Scholarship.
Inspiring MCAD student creates unique art with her feet
Sonia Boyer, a current student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, spoke with WCCO about creating artwork with no arms.
St. Catherine University names first Mary T. Hill director of data analysis
St. Catherine University has named Monica Brown, MS, as its first Mary T. Hill Director of Data Analysis. This position is supported by a gift from the James J. Hill Center.
Job and Internship Fair coming in February
Undergraduates students from our member institutions will meet and interview with employers at the 44th annual Minnesota Private Colleges’ Job and Internship Fair, which is attended by more than 2,000 students each year.
Winter issue of parent newsletter now available
A new issue of The Bridge: Parent News, our college planning e-newsletter for parents of a middle or high school student, is now online. Please consider sharing this useful resource with parents you might know — or sign up yourself!
Report on local economic activities of Minnesota’s private colleges
Our 17 members institutions contributed more than $1.57 billion to Minnesota’s economy in the 2017-18 academic year and the combined employment of Minnesota Private Colleges would rank as the 13th largest employer in the state.
Degrees earned reports now available online
The Council’s reports on bachelor’s and graduate degrees earned by students attending a Minnesota college or university have been released.
Study abroad numbers continue steady increase
Inside Higher Ed, Nov. 18, 2019
What matters in college admission
Forbes, Nov. 20, 2019
In defense of English majors (and every other kind)
Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 2, 2019
How higher education empowers student voters
Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 9, 2019