Minnesota Students Commit to Complete at State Capitol

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St. Paul, Minnesota – Nearly 70 community college students, faculty and college presidents from across the state of Minnesota gathered at the state capitol on March 31 to pledge their commitment to college completion. They displayed eight large banners bearing thousands of signatures of others on their campuses who have “committed to complete.”

Pictured at the Capitol are Dr. Rod Risley, Minn-Kota Regional Officers Heather Fast, Regina Taillefer and Yeng Xiong, along with Chancellor Steven J. Rosenstone (center).

Phi Theta Kappa members surround Minnesota's Capitol Rotunda with their C4 banners.

Phi Theta Kappa Executive Director and CEO Dr. Rod Risley spoke at the “Complete the Dream” event, along with Chancellor Steven J. Rosenstone of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Minnesota Commissioner of Higher Education Larry Pogemiller, and State Auditor Rebecca Otto. 

The occasion was part of an international effort promoted by Phi Theta Kappa, C4 (Community College Completion Corps). The theme for Minnesota’s event was “Plant the Seeds for a Secure Future.”

Minnesota is one of many states putting the spotlight on college completion, an issue that strongly impacts the world’s economy. Recently C4 events have been held in New Jersey, Delaware, Iowa, Colorado and Michigan, with more being planned in Mississippi, Texas and Nebraska.

Students, faculty and college presidents gathered at the campus of St. Paul College, where Otto exhorted the students to share their completion stories with the legislators and encourage their support of the state's two-year colleges.

The group walked from the campus to the State Capitol for a rally and press conference, where Rosenstone and Pogemiller addressed the gathering.

Rosenstone commended Phi Theta Kappa, the students and faculty for raising awareness of the need to complete a credential or degree, adding that the C4 completion effort reflected his agenda of making Minnesota more competitive economically.

"The state has committed to providing new money for scholarships and grants to our citizens in order to ensure access to higher education and develop the essential skills that will keep Minnesota competitive in a global economy,” Rosenstone said. He presented his signed C4 Completion Champion card to Phi Theta Kappa Regional Coordinator Jon Wood, expressing his personal commitment to help all students finish what they start. 

Risley commended the efforts of Rosenstone and Pogemiller in their attempt to increase the number of the high school graduates who are college-ready by beginning assessment of students as early as their sophomore year. ”The goal should be to eliminate the need for the developmental education of high school graduates completely by ensuring students are prepared to succeed when entering college,” he said.

Phi Theta Kappa Division III International Vice President Rachel Reeck, who attended the event along with Minn-Kota regional officers, said it was inspirational to see the Capitol’s rotunda filled with banners of signatures promising completion.

“The purpose of the C4 event was to create awareness of the immense need for students to commit to complete their degrees,” said Heather Fast, Vice President for the North District of the Minn-Kota Region and President of the Riverland College chapter. “It was comforting to hear our leaders in education support our efforts and encourage us to become leaders in the initiative, pushing Minnesota's lawmakers to continue on the path toward supporting growth in our state through education.

“I look forward to working with them in the future to develop more leaders in our Phi Theta Kappa chapters who will carry on the legacy of great education in our state.”

Yeng Xiong, Minn-Kota Regional Historian/Secretary and Co-President of the Phi Theta Kappa Chapter at Century College, said it was a wonderful experience to be inside the state capitol, seeing legislators face to face and being able to share personal stories to make a lasting impression.

“Our local legislators were able to see first-hand the impact that their decisions have on us, as students. We were able to let our voices be heard.” Xiong said. “We stressed the importance of committing to completing our education to our legislators and showed them that we as Phi Theta Kappans are taking a step toward a positive future with our C4 initiative.”

For more photos and complete coverage of Minnesota’s Complete the Dream event, visit ABC Channel 5 Eyewitness News.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States, plus Canada, Germany, the Republic of Palau, Peru, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates and U.S. territorial possessions. Nearly 3 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 131,000 students inducted annually.