Community initiative director works to increase students of color on private college campuses

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If there is one thing that can be said about Sundraya (Sunny) Kase, it’s that she really loves her job. Kase is the director of community initiatives for the Minnesota Private College Council, an organization that represents 17 Minnesota private colleges, and assists students in enrolling in them and finding funding.

She has been in her position for close to a decade, before which she was involved with community engagement and development with St. Paul’s Minnesota Minority Education Partnership. Kase explained that in her current position she works with all 17 campuses.

Some of the colleges are Augsburg, Macalester, Concordia College, Concordia University, Gustavus Adolphus, Hamline and St. Olaf. A complete listing of member colleges can be found at the Minnesota Private College Council website, whose address is listed below.

“I work with our campuses, our multicultural affairs, financial aid, student affairs, working with all of our campuses to increase the number of students of color who are being admitted to our campuses. So, I work on recruitment, admission, retention, and graduation…and finding jobs in the community,” she said.

When asked what she likes about her work, Kase replied: “What I like the most is actually seeing the work that I did before in policy come to life on our campuses in student services, in day-to-day work with students. I’m not the deliverer of that; I’m more the ‘convener’ of best practices and ideas that are working well across the campuses.”

She added, “The students that I’ve worked with when they were incoming freshmen, and seeing them in leadership positions in corporations and nonprofits, I find very fulfilling.”

Being in direct contact with students is something she particularly enjoys, especially an annual fall event that she describes as “an academic summit where we pull together 75-80 African American men from across all 17 campuses to come together for a two-day summit. It’s a great example of a program where I get to have direct contact with the students. It’s spread out across the state; they’ve got a touch point with each other.”

It’s a great chance for Kase to also, as she put it, “pull together and convene leadership in the community, and take that program and really run with it.”

Kase’s dedication to education is not restricted to private colleges. “I’m a parent of four young children who are all in the St. Paul Public School system,” she told us. “I also sit on the St. Paul Public School Foundation Board.

“I’m a deep believer in public schools.”

Students interested in attending one of the 17 Minnesota private colleges under the Minnesota Private College Council umbrella can find information at www.mnprivatecolleges.org/our-value and at www.mnprivatecolleges.org/diversity. Sunny Kase welcomes interested students to contact her through email at SKase@mnprivatecolleges.org. 

Isaac Peterson welcomes reader responses to ipeterson@spokesman-recorder.com