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Q&A with 2015-16 PRC Austin Ruport

Austin RuportWhat college do you go to and what is your major?

I will be attending Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and my major is Psychology. 

To whom do you feel you owe your success and why?

I owe my success to many people. I owe my success to my grandmother because of all that she has taught me, and because I get a lot of my bubbly quirks from her! I also owe my success to the Rainy River Community College Student Senate for all of the support during the process of campaigning and to the students of MSCSA for electing me. 

What was your first thought after finding out you received your position?

I instantly had a deer in the headlights look as I felt relief, and a sense of unbelief. My first thought was "I can't believe I won." I was just consumed in happiness and felt so honored that the students of MSCSA elected me as the incoming public relations coordinator. 

What do you look forward to the most in the next year?

I look forward to meeting new students! I absolutely adore talking to new students, and learning about their different paths of life. I plan to make new students a top priority as public relations coordinator.  

Q&A with 2015-16 Vice President Timothy St. Claire

Tim St. ClaireWhat college do you go to and what is your major?

I currently go to Century College located in White Bear Lake. I am taking my generals there so I can pursue a major in physics. Most people think I’m crazy when I mention my major is physics, and I would agree with them, but what can I say, I love the challenge!

To whom to you feel you owe your success and why?

There are so many people who have helped me grow and become a better person, both personally and professionally. My family has always provided the drive and emotional support I needed to push myself to do bigger and greater things. For that, I owe them more then I can ever repay. The TRiO and Student Support Services (SSS) staff at Century College has been my guardians. They have helped me create a foundation to grow from by providing many resources to me, from counseling and advising, financial aid information and advice, academic tutoring, and a space I can call my own. I owe them for helping me begin my journey of change. My advisor Jenn Rassett has been a mentor and friend to me for the last 2 years. She has picked me up when I felt so down I couldn’t look forward, she has guided me in making good choices and reflecting on my past action to improve myself. She has pushed me to become a wiser and more compassionate leader. I cannot express my thanks to her in words. My success has never been only my own. It has been the combination of all those around me supporting me in my journey. You can say I have been really spoiled to have such amazing people all around me!

What was your first thought after finding out you received your position?

The first thing I thought was that I needed to prepare myself mentally and emotionally so I can shoulder the wishes, expectations, and dreams of all of the hundred thousand plus students in the two year college system in Minnesota. I take my position incredibly seriously because it grants the power to bring wide reaching and significant change to the lives, dreams, wellbeing, and futures of our students! I will be fighting against unfair, frustrating, and sometimes ethically challenging situations so my first priority was to harden my resolve and commit my life to MSCSA for the next couple of years. I am prepared to make the personal sacrifices necessary to complete the mission given to me by students in our system, just like the cabinet members that have come before me and the ones who will succeed me.

What do you look forward to the most in the next year?

I can honestly say I am really looking forward to jumping right to work! I want to get to work filling up my schedule with committee meetings, working out a vision for the upcoming year with my fellow MSCSA members, meeting and building positive work relationships within and outside of our organization, and starting my responsibilities as the vice president of MSCSA. One thing I found to be really unpleasant is having long periods of time without anything meaningful to do. It really drives me nuts when lull periods happen when we could be using that time to be productive and move forwards! MSCSA will keep me busy, and I am looking forward to that!

Q&A with 2015-16 President Kevin Parker

Kevin ParkerWhat college do you go to and what is your major?

I currently attend Anoka-Ramsey Community College-Coon Rapids and will be finishing up my AA next year. After that, I will be moving on to pursue a bachelor’s in health and human services. I want to focus on psychology so that I can begin working while pursuing my master’s degree.

To whom do you feel you owe your success and why?

I don’t think any single individual nor singular group of people can take credit for that. There have been many who’ve entered my life and changed it drastically for the better. From our student leaders and the students I’ve served, to my family, and all of the mentors along the way, each have added something special to my life that kept me moving forward. However, there are two mentors that stand out above the rest, and they are Thomas and Kelly Charpentier-Berg. They took me in during my first year in Minnesota and have never quit on me, even when I’ve been half ready to quit on myself. I will always be forever grateful for them.

What was your first thought after finding out you received your position?

That my year’s schedule was going to drastically change and there goes my sleep! In all seriousness, I was excited yet oddly calm, my mind already running and planning what was next and how to accomplish the goals I’d set. It was leaping a chasm and hitting the other side, ready to keep running to the next one. I knew I was in for an amazing year.

What do you look forward to the most in the next year?

Meeting new students. I love to see not only the flame begin for advocacy, but also helping to develop the strength of their voice and watching that fire blaze. Working together in leadership development is integral and reminds us that we are never alone. I also look forward to carrying those voices to the MnSCU office and legislature to ensure what is best for students is implemented, particularly through Charting the Future.

President Schoonmaker's farewell, adventures in Charting the Future, new scholarships, and more...

Check out what MSCSA has been up to this last month in the Association Update!
Check out what MSCSA has been up to this last month!
Join us at the 16th annual Scholarship Golf Classic!
Date: June 25, 2015
Location: The Refuge Golf Club, Oak Grove, MN
Don’t miss out on the 16th annual Scholarship Golf Classic! Registration has been extended to Monday, June 22. Join us at the Refuge Golf Club on Thursday, June 25 and spend the afternoon swinging for scholarships! 

We did it!
Check out the video below to learn about the triumphs and victories that were made during the 2015 legislative session and what that means for Minnesota's community and technical college students.
Special Session Update
Legislators met in a one-day special session to finalize portions of the state budget that were not agreed upon at the end of the regular session, as well as a bonding bill. This special session was historic as it is believed to be one of the only times that the legislature has met outside the Capitol chambers. The meetings were held in the State Office Building due to Capitol construction that has the entire building closed.
During the daylong session that lasted into the early morning hours, budget bills for E-12 education, Jobs and Economic Development, and Agriculture and the Environment were passed. There was also agreement on a bonding bill that spent a total of $373 million on project across the state. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities received a total of $31.9 million in projects with $21.2 being funded by the state.
The special session agreement has a full breakdown of the projects included in the bill.

Saving with Scholarships
Three of the MnSCU Foundation's endowed scholarships have been transferred to MSCSA.
John Kenneth Niemi Memorial Tool Fund: Provides funds for tool purchases required to complete a technical course of study
Morrie Anderson Award: Provides scholarship support to students enrolled in a technical program at one of the MnSCU technical or other consolidated colleges
Irja Pratt Sundgren Scholarship: Provides scholarship opportunities for students attending one of the five colleges within the Northeast Higher Education District
Stay tuned next month to learn more about each of these scholarships and how the transfer to MSCSA occurred.

A Final Farewell from President Schoonmaker

About three years ago, I found myself mystified by the Itasca Community College Student Senate, where it all started. As I led our campus to success in Get Out The Vote, MSCSA Rally Day, and many campus initiatives, something awoke in me that had been sleeping for quite some time. I was hungry for more. Which brings me to today, as I type my last article for the association as it’s President, it feels immensely bittersweet. I have become part of a loving and supportive family, and I have learned and grown more than I ever could have imagined I would. I know that some of you reading this may be making a transition in your lives as well, and I want to share some parting words about change. When I walked into the Student Senate office for the first time, I was skeptical. When I ran for Vice President of MSCSA, I was scared, but I did it anyway. I stepped out of my comfort zone, out of my “routine,” and I was rewarded with the best years of my life. (So far!) As I make my transition to Bemidji State University, while sad to be leaving, I am so thrilled to see what comes next, because change really is a beautiful thing. It keeps us going. It brings us even higher. It makes life fun. And yes, it can be terrifying. But if I had never faced my fears of public speaking and ran for Vice President, how different my life would have been. Three years ago, back at Itasca, I never would have predicted myself here now. As I look back, however, it all makes sense. I want to express my gratitude to the students of Minnesota for taking a chance on me, and to the staff of MSCSA for supporting me, mentoring me, and inspiring me.
I leave you with a quote from Steve Jobs that has helped me embrace life’s constant changes. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”
This is President Schoonmaker, signing off.
Read Kayley's farewell to the MnSCU Board of Tustees.

3rd Annual Great MSCSA Get-Together a Success!

Despite the rainy weather, over 100 people from our MSCSA family joined us and attended the 2015 Great MSCSA Get-Together. It was a spectacular celebration with students, alumni, friends, and family at the MSCSA office to celebrate our year and enjoy the afternoon together. Mini golf, dodge ball, and water balloons contributed to the success of this awesome event. Thank you to everyone who celebrated with us and we hope to see you all at the next Great MSCSA Get-Together! Tentatively mark your calendars for Saturday, June 4, 2016!


MSCSA Sponsors the MSUSA Penny Golf Scramble

MSCSA recently had the exciting opportunity to help sponsor the 2015 Penny Golf Scramble, hosted by the Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA). The day was filled with sunshine, laughter, and folks excited to help students succeed. Our own Director of Government Relations, Jason Fossum, was a member of the winning team! 
Although Mr. Fossum is an awesome golfer, the real winners are the MnSCU students who receive the opportunity to be recognized with either the Barbara J. Penny Community Service Scholarship or the Timothy J. Penny Federal Fellowship. Events and opportunities like the Penny Program remind us how important it is to be grateful for what we have and willing to give back when we can.

Get to know Development Assistant Joyce Petsch

JoycePetsch HeadshotQ: Tell us about your work experience and educational background.
A: I worked for the state of Minnesota from 1971 until 2011 - 40 years, working in the Department of Agriculture, Public Utilities Commission, and Telecommunications before beginning the last 21 years in higher education. During those years, I worked at Metropolitan State University, Minnesota State University System, and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. My positions included working with several commissioners, but mainly in advancement and development areas.
Q: What interested you in working for MSCSA?
A: While working at MnSCU, one of my responsibilities was the administrative assistant to the MnSCU Foundation. Its purpose was to raise funds for student scholarships and programs. When the MnSCU Foundation dissolved this year, it had transferred several of the scholarships to MSCSA which were designated specifically for the two-year college students. I love being given the opportunity to roll out these funds and to once again work with students.
Q: What are some of the things that you have been working on and are excited to work on in the future?
A: I have been working with the donors of the scholarship funds to maintain our relationship with them to ensure their scholarships will be distributed. I'm excited to meet more students, distribute more scholarships, and attend the annual Scholarship Gala in January.
Q: What interests do you have outside of work?
A: I love running, biking, swimming, and have participated in several sprint triathlons. I also love gardening and traveling.

The Adventure of Charting a Better Future for Students

Come one, come all as we tell you the tale, of the long awaited adventure called Charting the Future. Together we set sail three years ago to chart our future, and we have come a long way since that first day. What started out as an idea with a lot of unknowns, transformed into six recommendations for us to consider.
Eight teams were formed, and over the last two years, we have charted unknown territories to create initiatives that will lead to the glorious buried treasure that is a better higher education system for students. As with all adventures, we sailed through some rough seas, but each crew came together to create a map to the treasure. As the crews worked tirelessly towards finding the prize, a common theme came to light: collaboration. Each crewmember on each team had their voices, thoughts, and concerns heard. Now each crew is about to complete their plan and dock their ship for the last time.
The future of Charting the Future is in our hands, as it leaves the crews and travels to campuses and regions across the state. Each of the plans from the eight teams will be published during the month of July and will start to be discussed between the different constituents. Each campus will have a crew of their own that will assist the president with starting to implement the different initiatives. These changes may take a bit of time, however the outcomes will be significant. As the new crews are formed and the plans implemented, the treasure of a better higher education system for students is within our reach!
While each story must ultimately come to an end, this one is not quite done yet. The crews gathered together for one final swashbuckling party to recognize and thank all members and the work that has been completed. There was even a Charting the Future recognition video at the event that featured several MSCSA students. With this final send off, it was time to head back to work and continue seeking that treasure!


What can we expect for Star Campus in 2015-16? 

Logo StarCampusStar Campus was an initiative created five years ago and has since become a unifying force at many of our campuses. The idea was that student senates who’ve demonstrated their commitment to the organization would easily be able to achieve Star Campus status and thus be rewarded with prizes that would give them resources to become even more effective as student advocates.
We anticipate that next year’s Star Campus program will experience the highest level of campus participation. The last two years have seen blockbuster numbers of Star Campus recipients andd we expect this trend to continue as campuses start to build upon years of prior success. New ways for students to monitor their progress and submit criteria will make Star Campus easier to participate in than ever before! This, coupled with a revamped marketing strategy, will help to keep our campuses motivated and engaged throughout the year. Students like to know what to expect and this will be reflected in a more consistent and clarified list of Star Campus criteria. You should begin to see some of the changes as the 2015-16 Star Campus program is rolled out in the coming months-so stay tuned!
Please feel free to send questions about the Star Campus program to prc@mscsa.org.

Students Applaud Legislative Leaders & Governor for Tuition Cut

For the first time in memory, students at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges will see tuition go down as a result of the higher education budget bill signed by the governor. The bill provides 100 million in funding to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system to freeze tuition in the first year of the biennium while providing a one percent reduction for college students in the second year, all the while maintaining the quality services and programs that are currently being offered. The higher education budget bill is a huge step toward making college affordable in Minnesota. 

“Students at Minnesota’s public community and technical colleges will see much needed relief from increasing tuition costs thanks to the leadership of state legislators and Governor Mark Dayton,” said Kayley Schoonmaker, President of the MSCSA. “These leaders, along with many other legislators, have done a great thing for students by providing lower tuition for all students and targeted aid to make college free for some.”

The Minnesota State College Student Association worked closely with two-year community and technical college students from all corners of the state to advocate for the tuition freeze and was thrilled when it was announced that the outcome was even more than students could have hoped for. MSCSA will continue to work to ensure accessible, quality, and affordable public higher education for all Minnesota students.

MSCSA sent a letter today thanking Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka), Rep. Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls), and Governor Mark Dayton for prioritizing college affordability while maintaining quality at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges. Below is the content of the letter.


Dear Governor Dayton, Senator Bonoff, and Representative Nornes,

On behalf of the nearly 200,000 community and technical college students across the state, I want to share my sincerest gratitude to each of you for the commitment you showed this session to the issues facing our students.

We’re grateful that each of you recognized the unique challenges our students and campuses face and addressed these head-on in the budget. Our students currently pay the third highest tuition and fees in the nation. By providing significant new funding to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system and directing those dollars toward controlling tuition, you have set us on a path out of the top 5 nationally in tuition and protected the quality programs offered that are key to meeting our state’s workforce needs.

As a result of the higher education bill this session, students at our campuses will, for the first time in memory, see a reduction in tuition costs. In fact, building off the work of the previous legislature’s tuition freeze, our students will see three straight years of flat tuition and a one percent reduction in FY17. Due to the leadership of elected officials like you, many of our students will graduate paying the same or less than they did when they started their higher education journey.

We’re also grateful that the bill included funding and language aimed at implementing new transfer pathways for students in the MnSCU system. We have seen other states undertake similar reform and students there have benefited greatly from the transparency and certainty these new pathways bring. We’re excited to be a part of this crucial reform that will allow students to graduate faster, with less debt, and will allow them to enter the workforce quicker. This is something that will be of great benefit to our local, regional, and statewide economy.

We’re also excited about the pilot program to provide tuition assistance to students entering certain technical programs. We have long believed that our technical programs offer great benefits to students and our state’s economy and believe this program is a great step in recognizing their value.

Once again, thank you for your commitment to students and higher education in Minnesota. The efforts you put in this session are invaluable and appreciated by students on our campuses.


Kayley Schoonmaker
MSCSA President


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