Posts Tagged Tereza Ponce de Leon


tereza-85At this point, most of you have already decided where you are going to college, unless you applied to a school with a rolling admission.  I know after I had applied to the colleges I decided I was interested in it felt like forever before I found out which schools accepted me. Once I found that out, then I had to look at the schools more closely and decide which one would be the absolute best fit for me, even though they were all great schools.

For the juniors in high school who are now going to be seniors, my advice is to apply to at least 5 schools. That way you have options and you always have a fall back school. I know that may sound bad, but you never know what could happen, so it’s always best to just have a “safe” school.

Now, unless you’re rich, most people cannot afford college. Never think you cannot go to college or decide not to apply or go to a school because it is too expensive. That’s what financial aid, scholarships, and loans are for. A good tip to remember is to never stop looking for scholarships. Not all deadlines are the same and not every scholarship is looking for the same things. Look for ones for which you know you meet the qualifications, so that you do not put in a lot of hard work applying for a scholarship just to find out that you are not qualified for one reason or another. Also, never not apply to a scholarship because they are offering a “small” amount of money. Any amount of money you are awarded will be so much help to you because being a college student is definitly not cheap.

Although most of you have already decided on where you are going to college in the fall, I wish you all luck if you are still looking for scholarships to help you avoid taking out loans.

Tereza Ponce de Leon featured in Star Tribune



 The times alter the campus hue

With increasing numbers of students of color attending colleges, professors face new challenges to reach diverse students.


December 21, 2009 - The growing diversity of Minnesota’s colleges can be measured in numbers, figures and graphs. Abdul Suleyman hasn’t seen the pie charts, but he has seen the cafeteria. 

“When I was a freshman, there were only three or four black guys,” said the 22-year-old senior at Gustavus Adolphus College. “People would have us confused. It went from that to now, there’s maybe 15 of us.”

At Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Tereza Ponce de Leon is part of the most diverse freshman class in history. The color palette on college campuses is changing.

Thanks in part to a big jump this fall, the number of students of color going to college is way up. From suburban community college campuses to small-town schools like Gustavus, the growth goes beyond statistics. These students are changing how professors teach and campuses feel.

“It’s a fascinating moment,” said Paul Pribbenow, president of Augsburg College and chair of the Minnesota Private College Council. “We’re in constant conversation about what this means and what a gift this is.”

College was “always a big dream” of Ponce de Leon’s. A program for low-income students called Admission Possible helped her focus her ambitions. Pregnancy narrowed her college search, but it only heightened her 2newcomers[1]commitment to going. “I had to think not only about myself, but what would be better for the future of my son.”

This fall, students of color make up 43 percent of the first-year, daytime undergraduate class at Augsburg. In total, a full quarter of the college’s undergraduates are students of color — up from 8.6 percent in 2001.

Augsburg has lots of company. Enrollment of undergraduates of color is up nearly 90 percent in the last decade at the 17 member schools of the Minnesota Private College Council. Meanwhile, white enrollment grew less than 4 percent.

In the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, the enrollment of low-income, minority and first-generation college students — groups considered “underrepresented” — is up 22 percent this fall over last year.

“We had not seen anything like it before,” said Linda Baer, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs.

Experts say the economy is one reason, but Terria Middlebrook, a 22-year-old student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, sees something bigger going on:

“We are getting smarter knowing there is potential for us out there,” she said. “Our President Obama is one example to us African-Americans showing that we do have potential to succeed, but it’s up to us to move forward.”

“Pretty much college answers it all,” she said.

We’re here. Now what?

The big jumps in minority enrollment are the buzz of admissions offices around the country. With the college-age population decreasing and becoming much more diverse, colleges will need to recruit a more diverse student body to keep classrooms full.

But Augsburg Prof. David Lapakko had heard the buzz one too many times. In early October, he wrote a post on the college’s internal forum: “I must confess that I’m tired of hearing that the world — and our classrooms — are more diverse than in years past. To that I say, ‘Well, duh.’”

Diversity is one of Augsburg’s great strengths and “a critical part of a liberal arts education,” Lapakko said. But with it come challenges that need to be discussed.

Teachers can make some changes easily, he said, such as avoiding slang that confuses students whose first language is not English.

Not so easy is the “big question colleges have been forced to take a hard look at,” he said. That is: How much are professors willing and able to change how they teach or what they teach to reach the class that now sits before them?

“It’s kind of like the elephant in the living room,” he said. “People don’t want to talk about the bad parts of it, the difficult parts.”

Reaching commencement

Getting students in the door is only one part of a college’s job. Graduating them is another. Colleges and universities aren’t as good at graduating students of color as they are white students.

Black, American Indian and Hispanic students are more likely to attend part time and less likely to graduate than white or Asian students, according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

The office’s 2009 report shows that at two-year schools such as community colleges — where much of the growth is occurring — fewer than half of the students of color either completed a credential or transferred to another institution within three years.

“It’s about not only bringing more people through the doors, but making sure that they are achieving and succeeding at the same rate,” said MnSCU’s Baer.

MnSCU is one of 24 public college and university systems that just pledged to shrink the gap in college-going and degree completion between their traditional population and low-income students and students of color by 2015.

White kids care, too

Cheng Lee first saw Gustavus as a high school senior in Upward Bound, a program designed to increase the number of low-income and first-generation students in college. He thought the hilltop campus was beautiful and liked the idea of getting away from the distractions of St. Paul, where his Hmong family lives.

He began giving campus tours his freshman year and has watched the campus change through the eyes of the visiting high school students. A decade ago, fewer than 5 percent of students at Gustavus Adolphus College were a color other than white. This year, about 12 percent are.

“They always ask about the diversity — the numbers, the facts and figures,” Lee said. “But the main selling point is actually seeing students of color. If they see them walking by and saying hi to me, they really respond to that.”

White kids are asking about diversity, too.

“These kids at Eden Prairie, they’re used to a diverse population in their school,” said Mark Anderson, dean of admission and vice president for admission and financial aid.

Gustavus recruits white students whose applications show that they value diversity.

“We consider them equally important in order to be allies in what we want our campus to ultimately become,” said Virgil Jones, director of multicultural programs. “It does me no good to recruit you to come to school here if the majority of the white students don’t want you here.”

The college offers peer and faculty mentors to all first-year, underrepresented students. Advisers meet with each student every semester. Tutors set up shop in the college’s diversity center, as well as the individual colleges.

But there’s still room to improve, Jones said.

The college still deals with the occasional racist incident. The diversity of faculty and staff still lags. St. Peter could use a barbershop that knows black hair.

About 20 years ago, Anderson was mentoring a student who asked him: “You know why I sit in the front row?” He guessed wrong. “‘No, Mark,’ she told me. ‘It’s because I don’t want to see that I’m the only one in the classroom who looks like me.’

“Now, that doesn’t happen anymore,” he said. “And that’s pretty exciting.”

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Read Tereza Ponce de Leon’s blog about her first-year experience: csopportunityscholars.org/tereza-ponce-de-leon.

Check out the published article here.

gobble gobble!

tereza-85It’s already 2 weeks until Thanksgiving and I know most of you high students are looking forward to it because that means a 4 day weekend! I remember thinking that last year and couldn’t wait for it to come.

What I also remember about this time was that I was getting ready to start my college application process and I hope all of you high school seniors are too. If you have not started yet, don’t worry it’s not too late to start.

There are so many colleges out there and some students are probably wondering “Which one do I want to go to? How can I pick?” What I suggest doing is making a list of everything you look for in a college and go off of that. Some sample questions would be:”Do you want to stay close to home? Do you want to be in a city or in a college town? Do you want to go to a big school or a small school? Does diversity in your college matter to you?” and more questions similar to that. By answering a bunch of questions like that can really help narrow down your search and make it easier to pick which colleges you are interested in. I myself answered questions like that to help me narrow down my search because before I did that I was feeling kind of overwhelmed by how many colleges there where and this helped me eliminate some. For questions which you could go either way on like “how big do you want your school?” just apply to both because then you can never have too many options.

I would also suggest to at least apply to 5 schools. Every school will offer you a different financial aid package and different things and like I said before, keep your options open!

Try making a time line for yourself especially when applying to schools that have application deadlines. You do not want to miss an important deadline. Some schools may have rolling admission so there really is not a deadline but it is always better to apply sooner because then it’s more likely you will get a spot!

If you have not already figured out which teacher you would like to write you letter of recommendation it would be good if you made that decision soon so then you can ask that teacher. Also so then they could get started on it if necessary because just how you don’t like doing papers at the last minute, they don’t like doing letters of recommendation at the last minute.

You should probably begin creating a personal statement if you have not already started and I highly suggest you have someone else read it and help you with it! They can help you improve it and make suggestions that you might have not thought of before.

After you have all these things done all you really have left to do is wait to hear back!

To all you freshmen, sophomores and juniors, you can do all of these things too because it is never too early to start college preparation. Of course you cannot apply to college yet but you can have everything ready so that when you are able to apply for college all you have to do is fill out the application because everything else is already done. Also make sure that you take the ACT/SAT and make sure you are prepared for them which means study!

I wish everyone the best of luck and if you need help or have any questions don’t be afraid to ask your parents, teachers, counselors, coaches, or even me! Just leave me a comment after you read my blog.

it’s midnight already???

tereza-85Time. It is what we all want more of right?

Right now I am really wishing I had more time in my life because I am one busy person right now! I am going to college full time, I work at Sears part time, I have to volunteer 40 hours before December 12,2009 (I still have 20 hours to do) and I am a mom full time.

For the past month it feels like I am always on the go because I always have something to do or somewhere to be. This can sure get exhausting at times because I feel like I never have down time. To try to keep track of everything I keep a planner with me at all times so that I do not lose track of what I am supposed to be doing.

For those of you who are having time management problems or who are not able to get everything done in one day I suggest you try using a planner and not only to write down your homework assignments but everything else you have to do to.

I have a planner that has space for you to write out what your doing every hour and that is what I do. I know that probably sounds very weird and some people are thinking “who wants to plan out every hour of their day?” but it really does help a lot. It shows me what times I have open to do other things or if I need to fit something in that day. It might not work for everyone but it would not hurt to try because if it does work you might find yourself to be a much more organized and possibly more efficient person.

WHAT? College time already?


That was one of my first impressions of college. College has been something that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and now that I’m here, I love it. I’m also very proud to be here since I’m the first one in my family to ever attend college.

I’ve had mainly good experiences at college and was able to get over one of my biggest worries, which was trying to meet people. I was worried that since I don’t live on campus that I was going to have a hard time making friends but I was wrong. Everyone here at Augsburg is very friendly.

Another thing that helped me meet people was that my school had what they call “Auggie Days” which are the 4 days before school starts and are packed with activities for the 1st year students so we can try to get to know each other in a fun environment. I made sure to attend everyday because I thought that that would be a great way to meet people. I made a lot of friends before school had even started. Those events really helped me meet people.

Besides meeting people I was also worried about time management. I knew that college was going to be a lot of work but I was prepared. I attended a “Time management” workshop so that I could learn how to use and plan my time wisely. I thought it was very beneficial.

There is also a great tutoring program and at anytime I can sign up to get tutored for free which I’m very glad to know that there will always be help if I need it.

My college experience so far has been great and I’m looking forward to see what the rest of this year brings!