Portraits of Growth

Portraits of Growth

Four students reveal how a year as a Katie has changed them.
By Pauline Oo; Photos by Jaelyn Miltz ’20 (left/September images) & Ryan Johnson '19 (right/April images)

Do you remember your first year at St. Catherine? Were you excited, afraid or maybe both? If you could sum it up in a single sentence, what would you say?

Last September, we invited four first-year students to share their thoughts on college life and their reasons for choosing St. Kate’s. Our conversations were punctuated by stories of longing for family and pets and mixed with bashful glances, rambunctious laughter and zeal for the year that lay ahead. Each held tight to a keepsake they’d brought from home to help ease their transition. 

In April, we sat down with them again to gather their reflections on how the year had changed them, the hopes they have for the upcoming year and what they have to say to new Katies who’ll start in the fall. These young women’s answers vary greatly, but one thing on which they all agree: one year at St. Kate’s transformed them, in small ways and big — none of which revealed themselves through the lens of our camera.

Sylvia “Nicole” Urena ’20 

Age 18, Riverside, California
Secondary Education 

TRIALS AND TRIUMPHS…
Winter was pretty cold, but I didn’t have to deal with it too much. I went home over the holiday break to see my parents. I stayed with my grandma in her house and helped her with cleaning and taking care of some of her animals. We’re a close family — and I also have 45 cousins. It’s hard being away from everyone. School became so much tougher too.

A lot of my friends are saying that their second semester is really easy, and I’m just over here puling my hair out — what do you mean it's easy?! I'm super stressed because the study techniques I used my first semester didn’t really work this spring. But I’m starting to figure out what I need to do and when I need to do it. I'm also learning how to prioritize. My peer mentor in the Multicultural and International Programs and Services (MIPS) office is very supportive. She’s helping me figure out school and how to deal with things. Also, I picked up drawing again and taught myself how to play the piano. Both activities really help me relax.

HOPES AND DREAMS…
In my sophomore year, I hope to have a better handle on things. I love it here. I'm glad I came to St. Kate’s, and I want to be more involved on campus and advocate for different causes.

ADVICE TO NEW KATIES…
Don’t hide your struggles. There’s a really good support system at St. Kate’s.

KEEPSAKE…
My grandma’s crucifix. She gave this to me three years ago, and I keep it close because it reminds me of her. She’s my best friend. I try to talk to her every day.

Jaelyn Miltz ’20

Age 18, Monticello, Minnesota
Nursing and Wildcat basketball

CHANGING AND STAYING THE COURSE…
There was a period this winter when I doubted if nursing was for me. But then I attended a healthcare summit on campus and my passion was renewed after hearing two nurses speak about their work. I’m pretty dead set on it now. I also got a new job in January as a student community safety officer. I took it because the night schedule fit my commitment as a student-athlete better, but not returning as a student photographer for St. Kate’s marketing and communications office was hard because I love photography. (Jaelyn took the September photos/left images of her peers for this feature.)

A-HA MOMENT…
My biggest a-ha moment this year was realizing how important my dad is to me. Distance has made me value time with him so much more.

HOPES AND DREAMS…
I’m looking forward to having a car in sophomore year.

ADVICE FOR NEW KATIES…
Keep your dorm room clean. It makes coming back after class less stressful!

KEEPSAKE…
My basketball from high school. It was a huge comfort for me these two semesters because the sport has always been a constant in my life. In a year with so many changes, it was nice to have something so familiar.

Tumelo Khupe ’20

Age 22, St. Paul and Botswana, Africa
Music Theater

FEARS OVERCOME…
I thought of leaving St. Kate’s my first semester because I wasn’t sure about it being all female, or if I could really pursue my passion for dancing. But then I saw the opportunities that women are given here. Growing up, my mom (Jacobeth Molathwa Khupe ’99) constantly said, “St. Kate’s is a good community; it has a lot of opportunity for you.” I didn’t believe her. But now, after being here for a year, I do!

In terms of co-curricular activities, I'm a program assistant at St. St. Kate’s Multicultural and International Programs and Services office and the co-public relations officer in St. Catherine International Student Organization.

HOPES AND DREAMS…
Through the Associate Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC), I can minor in dance at Macalester,and that’s starting to open a lot of doors for me. I traveled to Duluth in March for the American College Dance Association, and I performed at a spring concert in April. I’m really excited to see what next year brings — what opportunities I’ll be able to grasp and what I’ll learn, and who I’ll be able to inspire.

ADVICE FOR NEW KATIES…
Be O.K. with not being in your comfort zone! That’s where all the growth happens. I came to St. Kate’s knowing what I wanted to do and not really noticing what else was going on around me. Now, I’m more aware. I’m open to the journey and to discovering new things.

KEEPSAKE…
My baseball cap. But I do less hiding these days, so I seldom wear it anymore. You know that feeling of walking on an unstable bridge? That’s how I felt at the beginning of the year. Now I’m more grounded.* The Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC) allows students to cross-register at five local campuses.

Alma Silver ’20 

Age 18, River Falls, Wisconsin
Communication Studies and Journalism 

A CHOICE CONFIRMED…
When I first toured campus, it was love at first sight. I absolutely feel the same way now — St. Kate’s is my home! I feel fortunate to live in such a vibrant environment and community of scholars. This year, one moment that truly empowered me was the "Election Reflection" event hosted by Campus Ministry. I felt particularly inspired by experiencing how we united as a University community in the wake of the 2016 election and turmoil that followed, and by participating in the constructive conversation. That event made so much more appreciative of how safe, welcoming and inclusive St. Kate’s is. 

HOPES AND DREAMS…
My first year was a gradual process of solidifying my identity as a Katie and learning how to engage with my peers on a deeper level. As a sophomore, I am most looking forward to becoming more involved in the St. Kate’s community and being a role model for incoming freshmen beginning their college journey. Freshman year was a gradual process of solidifying my identity as a Katie, and now that I have found a community here, I look forward to engaging in it on a deeper level. I look forward to taking more risks and actively seeking out new experiences!

ADVICE FOR NEW KATIES…
Embrace the journey! Beginning college means embarking on a new path that is wonderful, confusing, exhilarating, and scary all at once. Be patient with yourself as you transition to life as a Katie, and remember that while acquaintances are easy to make, genuine friendships will take time to develop. If you embrace the whirlwind of changes with confidence, courage and an open mind, more doors will open before you than you could have ever imagined. 

KEEPSAKE…
Literature and stories are the core pillar of my identity, and The Hobbit was one of my favorite childhood stories growing up. It was one of the earliest books that touched my heart and inspired my love of reading. Carrying it with me this past year reminded me that no matter how many things were rapidly changing in my life, the stories that I’ve lost myself in will always stay with me. 

NICOLE'S KEEPSAKE: A CRUCIFIX FROM HER GRANDMOTHER. Photo by Jaelyn Miltz '20.

NICOLE'S KEEPSAKE: A CRUCIFIX FROM HER GRANDMOTHER. Photo by Jaelyn Miltz '20.


ALMA'S KEEPSAKE: HER CHILDHOOD COPY OF THE HOBBIT. Photo by Molly Orth.

ALMA'S KEEPSAKE: HER CHILDHOOD COPY OF THE HOBBIT. Photo by Molly Orth.

Editor
Pauline Oo
MAOL Cert ’14, MBA '16

Staff Writers
Sara Berhow
Julie Michener
Sharon Rolnec

Copy Editor
Kara DeMarie MLIS '16

Designers
Carol Evans-Smith
Molly Orth

Project Manager
Kayla Forbes MBA '17

Web Developer
Lindsey Carlson

Director of Visual Communications
Jayne Stauffer

Director of Marketing and Communications
Kristin Kalstad Cummings '91

mag@stkate.edu
651.690.6831 | 800.945.4599