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Estefanía: A Confident Leader

Posted on: August 26th, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

Estefania HeadshotEstefanía Navarro was hit by culture shock when she came to the U.S. in 2005 and realized Americans didn’t like the Disney Channel show Lizzie McGuire as much as she thought they did. Born in Morelos, Mexico, the MCTC student had learned all she knew about the U.S. from television and movies.

Estefanía came to the U.S. with her single mother and younger brother. Her mother, who had lived and worked in the country previously, left Mexico for better job opportunities. Despite having taken English classes at a private school in Morelos and attending a mostly Latino middle school in South Minneapolis, the transition was still difficult. 

“I was lucky to have gone to a private school in Mexico,” she said. “I had very strict teachers who shaped me into who I am today.”

In 2007, Estefanía began attending Camp Sunrise, a free YouthCARE program that hosts urban youth at a camp in Rush City, Minn. every summer and teaches them the importance of the environment and working together. At the camp she learned the importance of working with others efficiently and how to be a proper leader. She was also struck by the diversity of her fellow campers.

“Seeing all these people with different backgrounds in the same place was amazing,” she said. 

Estefanía continued attending the camp through middle and high school, eventually becoming a junior counselor and then a full-fledged counselor. She enjoys establishing connections and getting to know the campers she oversees. She remembers herself as a shy and quiet teenager who lacked confidence when she first attended the camp. Over the years, her confidence has grown and she is now helping others who were like her.

Estefanía first walked the skyways of MCTC as a middle school student when the College was hosting a Latino-related conference and, later as a Jump Startstudent. The diversity of the campus community stood out and reminded her of Camp Sunrise. 

Estefanía was one of three Latino students to graduate with honors at her high school. Proud as she was, she felt like she had lost some of her culture since arriving in the U.S.

“I felt like I was losing a part of myself,” she said.

When she started attending MCTC, she heard about culture-related student clubs through Student Life. A representative from the Xicanos Latinos United (XLU) club encouraged her to attend one of their meetings. She felt like the club might help her regain some of her culture. After one meeting, she was sold.

“XLU is the family I didn’t have growing up,” she said.

Estefanía not only made friends in the club, but she’s also learned more about Mexican culture.

She experienced one of her proudest moments with the club when she organized a culture fashion show. She worked with more than 10 students from XLU and other Student Life culture-related clubs to model native clothing for their peers. The diversity and community she saw in the fashion show reminded her of why she came to MCTC. 

“We made friends with other students that we normally wouldn’t talk to,” she said.

In addition to her club involvement, Estefanía attended Student Senate meetings during her first year at MCTC. The more meetings she attended, the more intrigued she became by the passion she saw in the students participating. She wanted to be a part of that so she became a senator. As a senator, she wanted to make a change but she needed “a little more push.” In order to do that, she ran and became the director of diversity on the Student Senate’s Board of Directors.

“I really appreciate MCTC’s diversity, and I wanted to do something to help out and represent the minority community,” she said.

When a new election period came along, Estefanía had the option of running for director of diversity again or running for another position. She remembered her lessons from Camp Sunrise, and decided to take on more of a leadership position. 

“I knew the next president would need a strong vice president and I felt like I was the right person for it,” she said. “It felt like the natural thing to do.”

Student Senate inspired Estefanía to get involved with politics outside of MCTC. She stays up to date on political news and watches political documentaries. Her involvement with Camp Sunrise and Student Senate has also sparked a career interest in either education or politics.

“Closing in on the achievement gap is a passion of mine,” she said. “We need to keep students engaged and education is key for a brighter future no matter what your ethnicity or nationality.”

Global Citizen Calls Minnesota, and MCTC, Her Home

Posted on: January 21st, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Fadumo Abdi, Student Senate president“Minnesota really is my home,” Fadumo assures her friends. The MCTC Psychology major and Student Senate president has such a rich history, she understands why people might ask her.

Fadumo was born in Kenya to parents who fled civil war in Somalia, and her story only begins there. Her family moved to Minnesota, later to the United Arab Emirates and then returned to Kenya for many years. Three years ago, Fadumo returned to Minnesota for college. Along the way she learned English, Arabic, Swahili and Turkish. Despite her varied experiences and multi-lingual abilities, she said, “When I arrived back in Minnesota for college, I had been out of the United States for so long that I had a lot of catching up to do.”

The first thing Fadumo had to catch up on was application deadlines. “I missed the deadline to apply for the University of Minnesota,” she said. “When I talked to my dad, he told me there was a college in downtown Minneapolis he attended when he was young, but he didn’t know if it still existed.” In truth, the college Fadumo’s father attended did not exist anymore. He attended Minneapolis Community College (MCC). In 1996, MCC merged with other institutions and became Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Fadumo isn’t likely to miss another application deadline. Over the past two years at MCTC, she’s held a work study position the College’s Admissions department.

Looking ahead to her future, Fadumo decided she would build her extracurricular repertoire and professional skills. While attending high school in Kenya she had participated in a Model United Nations team; drawing on that experience, she decided to run for a position in the MCTC Student Senate. After a few interim positions, she was elected President in the fall of 2013.

“I didn’t intend to become President,” she said. “I don’t really like being in the spotlight. I just very much enjoy helping people, like I do in the Admissions office.”

Fadumo juggles more than just schoolwork and extracurricular commitments. She lives with her grandmother, who doesn’t speak English, and her mother, who has a chronic illness. “I had to grow up really fast, and when I started at MCTC I missed some school to be with my family,” she said. “Thankfully, I had some very understanding teachers, and I made it through that time.”

“Honestly, thanks to the Student Senate, I’ve learned how to be more patient. Part of being a leader is being fair, and I’ve learned how to better handle stressful situations.”

Fadumo was impressed with what MCTC had to offer when she arrived at the College. “There is an incredible diversity of experiences at this college,” she said. “At MCTC, even within my communitythe Somali communitypeople have very different experiences. Even then, MCTC has a tight-knit, family feel. The longer I stay here, the longer I want to stay here.”

“Minnesota really is my home.”

Learn more about the history of MCTCfrom its origins as Girls Vocational School to the modern campus nestled between Loring Park and Downtown Minneapolisas we celebrate our Centennial year! http://www.minneapolis.edu/About-Us/Centennial

Learning Locally, Lucie Builds Her Skills and Her Community

Posted on: January 7th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Lucie, MCTC studentThe MCTC campus was quiet during finals week before the fall semester ended. Most students had finished their exams and left campus, but Lucie Skjefte was studying late into finals week. “I have my last final on Friday, and then I’m going to take my son to see Santa,” said Lucie.

Lucie felt drawn to MCTC from a young age. “My sister attended college here before I started. Going to MCTC always seemed like the natural thing to do,” she said. One of the biggest draws to the College was United Nations of Indian Tribes for Education (UNITE), MCTC’s Native American student group, and the American Indian Success Program. “When I first started, seeing the success of UNITE students pushed me to work hard and be successful too,” said Lucie. “UNITE is there to inspire and encourage one another. It’s there for people to reach out to when they need it.” Lucie is now the president of UNITE.

Before returning to school, Lucie learned she was expecting a baby in 2009. “I knew if I was going to have a child, I’d need to make some changes.” Lucie was a single mother of a newborn, but after being offered housing by a family member, she was able to return to school at MCTC. “Having stable housing meant the world to me. It meant I could finally go back to and focus on school,” said Lucie.

“My son changed everything for me. He inspires me, and he grounds me. I always knew he’d be my rock.”

As soon as Lucie returned to school, she excelled academically. “I’ve always been one to build a foundation,” she said. “I took some great fundamental classes, and eventually determined my passion and skills intersected at Graphic Design. That’s where I excelled.” In 2011 Lucie joined the Phi Theta Kappa honors society, and this spring, she will graduate from MCTC with A.A.S degrees and certificates in both Graphic Design: Print Media and Graphic Design: Web and Interactive Media.

Lucie decided to finish her studies at MCTC and transfer. “My instructors and my advisor encouraged me to reach beyond my comfort level, and that encouragement was all I needed,” said Lucie. “I considered several out-of-state Ivy League schools, but Minneapolis has a great art community. I decided I really wanted to stay local.”

Shortly before the new year, Lucie received her acceptance letter to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), and a pleasant surprise. “Along with my acceptance letter I learned I’d be getting a $15,000 Presidential Merit Scholarship to MCAD.” Lucie’s ultimate goal is to teach the topics she loves and excels at. “I want to be able to give back everything I’ve learned about art and design, and to inspire my community.”

March Phonphiboun, World Citizen Award Winner

Posted on: December 5th, 2013 by insidemctc No Comments

Photo: March PhonphibounAn associate’s degree was only the beginning for March Phonphiboun.

The Mathematics and TRIO work study student began his studies at MCTC in 2010. “In high school, I wasn’t in an academic state of mind,” said March. “I barely graduated, and when I got to MCTC, my performance kept getting worse.” After seeing his first semester grades, he began asking himself some hard questions. “I had had enough. It was then my journey with self-discovery and improvement began.”

March worked hard—both in his studies and in tandem with his studies. “I had to pick up part-time jobs during college to help pay bills,” March said. “On top of studying, dealing with personal issues and working to improve myself, it was a difficult time for me.” During his time at MCTC, March fed his interests in leadership and interpersonal communications. “There are so many things you can do when you develop leadership skills. You begin to notice life working for you.” In December of 2012 March graduated with honors, receiving his associate’s degree in Liberal Arts. However, he wasn’t done learning.

March’s ideas, experiences and personal growth had given him energy and a new direction to pursue. In January 2013, March began a new course of study at MCTC: mathematics. This time, he was empowered to use his new skills and confidence to apply for a scholarship to help pay the way.

“An adviser in the TRIO Starting Point program suggested I apply for the Mark M. Welter World Citizen Award,” said March. The application called for an essay addressing how people of the world are connected to one another. “In my essay, I wrote about how world citizens aren’t so different from one another. As a team, world citizens can expand the existing pool of knowledge.” March also described his concept of a program aimed at making STEM fields approachable to non-STEM majors.

Last fall, March joined the North Star STEM Alliance and had the opportunity to attend the national conference for the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers in Philadelphia. “Among countless things, the conference taught me the importance of networking. Communication skills can be one of the biggest assets you can have, especially when moving laterally within a company or organization.”

This will be March’s final semester here at MCTC. He will transfer to the University of Minnesota in the spring of 2014 to pursue a master’s degree in computer science. “Every day is an opportunity to learn and improve,” said March. “I like to believe that once you stop learning, you stop living. I’m getting ready for the future.”