Due to the Novel Coronavirus, we have decided to cancel First Step Summer 2020. See message below for current and future applicants.

A Message to First Step Applicants from the Institute Director

First Step, as a program has been preparing young women of color and/or Indigenous women for higher education for over four decades. The First Step Summer Institute is a free and unique college immersion experience on our St. Paul campus. This 4-day residential program, allows students to gain a deeper sense of commitment to pursue higher education, a strong network of diverse, college-bound friends, a sense of support and encouragement from St. Kate's staff, faculty and students, perspectives on college living, and ultimately, increased self-esteem about their capacity to apply to and thrive in college.

Since our founding, our program has not missed one summer because we know the importance and the value of this work. When we were planning for this summer, no one saw a pandemic coming and while we hope that the situation will improve, we must take into consideration the health and safety of students, staff, faculty, and as well as all the family that entrust us with their daughters. As you are aware, COVID-19 has and continues to change our lives every day and we are bombarded with emails of closures and cancellations to well-loved programs. We are in a particularly strange time and we want to be prudent and hopeful at the same time.  

After a long wait and a lengthy conversation with the University, and careful consideration of the current and projected COVID-19 guidelines and limitations set by our Governor in regards to schools. It is with a heavy heart that I announce that St. Catherine University will be canceling the First Step Summer Institute for Summer of 2020. This decision did not come easily, nor was it made in haste. We know for a lot of the students who come to our program, they might be experiencing a college campus for the first time in their lives. It could be the first time they can freely ask questions about college and learn skills while at the same time being in community with other girls who are also navigating the world as indigenous and women of color. It truly breaks my heart that we won't get to meet your amazing students this summer and they won't get to experience our students, staff, and campus of St. Catherine University. 

We worked through several scenarios in an effort to keep the program this summer but ultimately we had to make the difficult decision to cancel. There are many emotions we are all feeling during this time, but the most important one we hold on to is hope. We hope you are all staying safe, we hope you are healthy, and most of all we hope you are feeling the solidarity and love this moment has shown us.

-Amal Warsame

FAQ

Although this would be a great option, in order to provide the students with the program, we felt that moving the program online changes too much of the program structure and overall experience. We feel that ultimately this won’t be the reputable program our students love.

Although we are canceling the program this year, I'm still taking in applications until an extended deadline of May 20, because we are planning to accept students who have applied and finished their application for summer of 2021. The selection process will remain the same and only students who have complete a strong application will be accepted automatically for First Step Summer 2021. Our intention is to accept everyone who would have been admitted this year to next year. 

Some of our applicants are lucky because they are currently freshmen and sophomore and because of that, their chance of being in the program next year is very high, but this isn't the same for Junior students. Due to eligibility, for current Juniors, I would like to create an online workshop sometime during the beginning of the summer and possibly an online panel with current students. I'm hoping to collaborate with our Admissions office so that Juniors can ask specific questions. This workshop will specifically give tips around the application process, general tools of what admissions counselor looks for in an application, and tips around creating a strong personal statement. Students will be able to utilize these tools to whatever college they decide to go to.

I know this doesn't compare to being a part of the First Step program but I'm hoping this will be a solution so that students can get to know St. Kate's as well as getting to connect with current Katies.

I would recommend for students who are able to complete their application to do so right now. With the plans to combine Summer 2020 and Summer 2021, students have a higher chance of "being accepted" this summer due to the competitive nature of our program. If a student has been admitted this year, they are automatically admitted next year with just the caveat that I will be asking for an updated transcript.

A Free College Immersion Experience

Preparing young women of color and/or Indigenous women for higher education, the First Step Summer Institute is a free and unique college immersion experience on our St. Paul campus.

In this 4-day residential program, students gain a deeper sense of commitment to pursue higher education, a strong network of diverse, college-bound friends, a sense of support and encouragement from St. Kate's staff, faculty and students, more perspective on college living, and ultimately, increased self-esteem about their capacity to apply to and thrive in college.

  • Work and live with 25 other fun and energetic young women, all of whom are striving to go to college.
  • Gain access to college professors and students who are willing to help you get to college.
  • Build a deeper sense of community and leadership skills with the help of team-building activities.
  • Attend a variety of workshops that are packed with invaluable information. Topics covered include: applying for financial aid, choosing a major/career, tips for taking the ACT exam, how to write a personal statement and college money/debt management
  • Work with your peers in an environment designed to foster your skills and prepare you for college.

Qualified alumnae of First Step who apply and are accepted to St. Kate's will be considered for scholarships. First Step is completely free to students and families.


First Step Institute students in front of Coeur de Catherine
  • Time, money, stress and conflict management
  • Goal setting
  • Problem solving
  • Active listening
  • Resourcefulness
  • Confidence and empowerment
  • Accountability to yourself and to others
2020 First Step Dates

Session 1

June 15–18, 2020

Session 2

June 22–25, 2020

Apply to First Step

Eligibility

First Step is a highly competitive program with more applicants than there are slots available. Meeting eligibility requirements alone does not guarantee admission to this program. Program enrollment is limited to 225 students per session.

You must:

  • Identify as a woman of color and/or Indigenous woman
  • Be enrolled in 10th or 11th grade and have a 3.00 or higher grade point average (GPA)
  • Be interested in higher education
  • Demonstrate a willingness to make First Step your first priority
  • Complete the application

How to Apply

  • Complete the online application or download and submit a paper application. The application deadline is April 12, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Request your most recent transcript or grade report (unofficial is okay). Your transcript should be mailed directly from your high school in a sealed envelope to our mailing address below. Scanned and emailed transcripts are also acceptable; please email them to thefirststep@stkate.edu.

Apply Online

  • Complete the First Step online application
  • Obtain two letters of recommendation. One recommendation should come from a current teacher and the other from an adult who can speak honestly about your personal qualities and interests, talents, and skills. Recommenders can submit their recommendations online.
  • Request your most recent transcript or grade report (unofficial is okay). Your transcript should be mailed directly from your high school in a sealed envelope to our mailing address below.

Online application

Online recommendation form

Apply Via Mail (Paper Application)

  • Download and complete the First Step application
  • Obtain two letters of recommendation. One recommendation should come from a current teacher and the other from an adult who can speak honestly about your personal qualities and interests, talents, and skills. Recommendations should be sent directly from your recommender in a sealed envelope to our mailing address below.
  • Request your most recent transcript or grade report (unofficial is okay). Your transcript should be mailed directly from your high school in a sealed envelope to our mailing address below.

Download the application and recommendation form