Marquice's Story

Marquice Page is mastering the art of balance. A sophomore at Bemidji State University, he juggles his studies and social life with growing ease as he forges his path through college.

“I like the independence I have,” Marquice said. “I don’t really have my parents hovering over me.” He paused. “That’s a good and a bad thing.”

A graduate of KIPP Minnesota and Robbinsdale Cooper High School, Marquice opted to focus on accounting after an aptitude test showed his talent for it.

“We’re studying partnerships, and the importance of inventory and depreciation as well,” Marquice said of his accounting classes. “It’s not ridiculously hard — but it’s not easy, either.”

To get a taste for other fields (and fulfill BSU’s credit requirements) Marquice has sampled other classes along the way. So far, the best and toughest courses have been his two computer science courses.

“The professor was really funny,” Marquice said. “I liked a lot of his jokes, and he was really smart, too. My second computer science class was very difficult. I went to the professor’s office hours practically every day and he helped me out.”

When not in class, Marquice can be found at the campus rock climbing wall, studying at his work-study jobs, or hanging out in his dormitory’s basement lounge.

“That’s where I play ping pong a lot. There aren’t a lot of people who hang out down there, but on weekends it can get pretty crowded,” Marquice said.

Living in a building with hundreds of other students was an adjustment, Marquice said.

“It was weird at first: to go take a shower, you’d have to go to a different room and walk past a few random people who just got out of the shower,” he said. “But you get used to it. Last year I was in a big building, but this one is smaller and I live in a suite. Basically I have my own room, and I share a living area with two other people who were on my floor during my freshman year.”

When you live among hundreds of your classmates, a study break is just a quick text away. On any given evening, Marquice and his friends can be found relaxing in a campus lounge or dorm room, playing cards or watching a movie. But the abundance of social opportunities can be a double-edged sword.

“The most challenging part to me is the self-discipline portion of it,” Marquice said. “Sometimes I’ll be playing video games and when I finally get into study mode, my friends will come in and be like ‘Do you want to play cards?’ And I’ll say oh, sure! And then I had to stay up until two o’clock in the morning studying yesterday.”

Marquice’s advice for current KIPPsters is based on his own academic experience.

“Don’t just study, but to learn how to study better,” he advised. “If you study the wrong way, you’re going to learn it the wrong way. It’s kind of like practicing the wrong move in basketball: it may produce some temporary results, but when it comes to the grand scheme of things, it might be wrong.”

Marwa's Story

For KIPPsters with their college years still ahead of them, Marwa Eissa has some words of advice. A sophomore at University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Marwa says it’s best to get ahead of the game on financial aid. “Apply for a lot of scholarships, and I mean a lot, alongside FAFSA of course,” she advised.

On a more personal level, a KIPPster’s attitude can also affect your path to college.

“Some have it easy and some have it hard,” Marwa said. “Don’t compare yourself to them. Keep focusing yourself.

Marwa is a psychology major with a thirst for knowledge. She has two favorite classes at the moment: French — a language she has always wanted to learn — and Cognitive Processing, a fascinating psychology class with the added bonus of a great professor.

“The subject itself is very interesting and really gets me thinking,” Marwa said. “And there’s also the fact that the professor is very funny — he makes the class even more enjoyable. He goes above and beyond, making jokes and telling us stories that would relate back to the topic.”

Between classes, Marwa can be found studying, hanging out in the Gaughan Multicultural Center, or taking a “much-needed nap.” She considers herself lucky in the hand she’s been dealt on campus.

“Living in dorms is pretty fun, more so after I moved from the traditional dorms into an apartment style,” Marwa said. “It feels really nice to finally have your own room and privacy. I live with two of my closest friends so it’s fun to cook together, study together in the living room, and just basically hang out and do nothing sometimes.”

Marwa met her college friends through all sorts of engagement on campus, from shared classes, volunteering, and clubs like the African Student Association to chance meetings on campus or in the cafeteria. “I used to be really shy and quiet up until I got to college, but making friends was not that hard,” she said.

One of Marwa’s main challenges is deciding which subfield to focus on in her major. “I don’t want to end up choosing the wrong thing and regret it later,” she said. “Hopefully I do figure it out before graduation as I’m planning to continue to grad school.”

“The best thing about college is the freedom of making your choices, finally being able to experience life as an adult,” Marwa said. “I’m building myself up.”

At times, the independence of college can be difficult: being far away from family during a difficult time can affect everything from grades to positive energy.

“But the good thing is it creates strong mentality and we become thick skinned so we are not fragile anymore,” Marwa said.

Conversation with Marketa Coney

Marketa Coney is a freshman at Paul Quinn College, a historically black college in Dallas, Texas. A graduate of Cristo Rey High School, she’s on the pre-med track and keeps herself busy in and out of class, studying and exploring her new city. KIPP Through College caught up with Marketa during her winter break, on December 20, 2017.

How has your first year at Paul Quinn been?

College is fun, I’ve always liked school so it’s just another step in school. I like my classes, all my teachers are really fun, they make learning fun. I didn’t get a lot of homework this semester but my friends did, so I’m like, it’s coming! It’ll get there sooner or later. I didn’t have to write any papers.

What classes are you taking?

I was taking 17 credits, about five classes. We can take up to 18 credits but if I get approval, I can start taking 21 credits and that’s probably what I’m gonna start doing sophomore year.

What drew you to the pre-med track?

I’ve always known I wanted to do something in the medical field. I didn’t know what at first; I was like, oh, I want to be a medical assistant like my mom! And then I was like no, I want to be a pharmacist. Then I shadowed a pharmacist for a day and I was like, this is so boring. Like, no. And then I talked to a couple of anaesthesiologists when I was at my job at Cristo Rey, at United Health Care. They had some anaesthesiologists come in and talk to me and I was like cool, I want to do this.

What classes did you take this semester?

I took Biology I, I took a career management class, which has been helping me with my portfolio, my resume, helping me get out there in the work field, and I took — what else did I take? It wasn’t that long ago! I took Health and Wellness, which is starting in pre-med, I took Spanish because I’m good at Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish but I know all the things. I took it for three years in high school. We never really talked, it was more on paper, so I know everything on paper, and... What else did I do? I had personal finance, which was a one credit class, so basically we talked about how to not die in college [laughs] by spending too much money and making sure you have insurance, making sure there’s health insurance, house insurance, car insurance, anything you own, what are your assets, what are your liabilities, things like that.

How did you like your professors?

I liked all my professors, they were all really cool. My biology professor, she was really cool. She actually taught high school and college at the same time so we met with her twice a week in a three-hour class at night, 6:30 to 9. It was something. But she was really cool. She reminded me a lot of one of my high school teachers, he was really chill and laid back but he got on us about making sure our homework was done.

Did you have any difficult or challenging classes?

My algebra class. There’s just so many different things to learn! Everything we went over, I’d already taken it, but it was two years ago, so I was like “I don’t need that anymore, throw that away!” So when it came back I was like — and I only had class once a week, so I had to figure it out. If I didn’t know it, I had to go to tutoring, get things done, ask questions and it was just harder because I didn’t have the teacher around the clock. She only came in once a week.

Do you know what you’re doing next semester?

I’m taking Biology II, I’m taking my next health and wellness class, I’m taking another math class, I forget what it’s called but I know it’s with a really hard teacher. Her name is Ms. Hodges, nobody likes her because they don’t pass. I think that’s it.

What’s been one of the most unexpected things you’ve learned or experienced at college?

No one’s there to hold your hand! You have to get up and go to class. If you miss one class, if you miss thirty minutes of class, you’re going to miss something that you needed that’s gonna help you. And I went to every single class, every day, but watching my friends, I have to make them go to class, like get up! And when they would come in and didn’t know what we were doing, and then we’d have a pop quiz, or test, they’d be so confused. You have to be there on time, every time! I’ve always been the mom friend, always.

Do you have anyone at Paul Quinn to support you like that?

It’s mostly on me, if I ever need a reminder. I’m pretty close to my teachers and they’re just an email away. I take notes, I write down things, or I’ll take a picture ‘cause I always have my phone on me, so taking notes or taking a picture -- you’ll be fine. And I can remind everybody else.

What’s your living situation like?

I got lucky, I’m in an apartment with three other students, they’re Presidential scholars, so we all have full rides and live in apartments, we have our own bathroom and two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. My roommates are cool; two are from Dallas, and the other one is from Chicago.

Are there any other Minnesotans on campus?

There’s like, four.

How big of a school is it?

We’re around 450 right now, I think.

Does it feel like a small campus?

I know it’s small, but I don’t know everybody. I know my whole class and I know a lot of upperclassmen, but anywhere in between that… no. It’s like high school, but we live with each other. High school for me was cool, but you know, there’s always drama and problems. Otherwise everything’s good.

What’s the adjustment to Texas been like?

It’s just different. I don’t know if it’s the weather, or the people… people are nice in Minnesota, not everybody is super nice, but not everybody is super nice in Texas. I feel like the aura is different. I knew when I was at KIPP, I do not want to be in Minnesota when I go to college, that’s not something I want to do. Even when I was visiting colleges around here, I was like, “oh this nice, but I’m not going here, I’m not going to be in Minnesota.” So when the president from Paul Quinn came, I was like, “This is my opportunity!”

What’s it been like being home for winter break?

I haven’t really been doing anything besides working. Wednesdays are my days off, so I run a couple errands and I sleep in. I’ve been running on three hours of sleep for a while. It’s not bad though. I just need — the college life, when you don’t have money, is not fun at all. It’s not. And I had — I was fine, but I saw other people and I was like, oh no, I can’t do that. I refuse.

If you had any advice for someone who wants to go to college but doesn’t know what to do, what would you say to them?

I know everybody doesn’t have a guidance counselor that they can talk to, but I always talked to my teachers, and they pushed me to go to college. If I never went to KIPP, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college. Because they were a college prep school. I’d say, talk to your teachers, because they definitely went to college, and they want to help you, they want their students go to college. I just got close with one teacher who always told us, “You’re gonna go to college, you’re gonna be something really cool.” When we were in eighth grade and we had Ms. Ruth-Jarmon for science, she was said, “You’re gonna do big things,” and I was just like, “You think so?” She was trying to get me into all types of programs, she was just making sure I kept on track. Then I got to another college prep school and it was the same: “Yeah, you’re going to college.” You being interested, your grades, and then your relationship with your teachers: that’s how I got my scholarship, my relationship with my teachers, they always said, “We know Marketa, she’s gonna do this, she’s gonna do that.” And after the president of Paul Quinn talked to the teachers, and talked to me, he was like, “We want her!”

Any last thoughts?

College is something everybody should experience. It’s a good feeling. You meet different people from everywhere, and then once you meet those different people, you know people everywhere and you can say, “Oh, there’s an internship here, and an internship here,” you get more opportunities. I feel like that’s what college is about: more opportunities. So I have people in Las Vegas, and Chicago, and California, everywhere. I could get a job here, I could go there. And I think it’s a learning experience, figuring out who you are and how you do things. Am I a morning person, am I a late night person? You’ll definitely meet your long-term, long-time friends that you’ll have forever. You learn how to be yourself, how to stand out.

Conversation with Robert Sanigular

Robert Sanigular is a KIPP MN graduate of 2017. A graduate of Eden Prairie High School, Robert attends Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) and aspires to run a personal training gym someday. KIPP Through College caught up with him at a cafe near campus on March 2, 2018.


How long have you been at MCTC?

I’ve been taking classes since fall semester, last fall semester. This is my second semester right now. I’m doing my liberal arts [degree] right now and I’m taking my personal training classes online through an ACE program, which is a way for you to get your personal trainer certificate online

What made you want to be a personal trainer?

I’ve always been fit my whole life, so once I got into college and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I was like, why not fitness? It’s already a hobby, might as well just go for it. In high school I ran track for four years. I did the 4x1, the 100, and the 200, and we came second in the state for the 4x1, 2016. I would say I was a leader, a leader and a teacher on my sports team. I’d say I led by example; I could always show someone better than I could explain, I don’t know why.

What are you learning in your classes?

Right now we’re learning about the different types of anatomy for the movements of your exercise, and about nutrition. I’m also in an African American History class, it’s been sparking my interest lately. Pretty much like the Civil Rights Movement and the oppression after the Civil War, that’s what we’re learning. I’m taking a college composition class and a personal economics class. You learn how to do your taxes, retirement planning, investments. Pretty much the ins and outs of how to spend your money correctly, how to be an adult.

How would you describe your first year of college?

It’s been a little difficult because it’s kind of like you always have to stay on task because if you slip up once it’ll pile on so you have to stay on task, but it’s doable. The main thing is just staying on task. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while, to stay on task, but ever since this semester started, 2018, I’ve been spot on.

How has your advisor, Mr. Plattner, been involved in your experience?

Honestly, he’s been really helpful. He showed me the path a little bit, I would say, to let me know the importance of trying to get your education. Because before, when I first graduated high school, I was like, “I’m not going to college — I just want to work” and he was like “No, Robert, you need to go!” and I told him I was going to take a year off and work. I was working at Medtronic for a year and then when I was working there for a year and I saw all the people around me, they just looked stressed out all the time and they were adults, I was working with full-grown adults at the time and I was just 18, and I saw them and I was like, “I need to go to school because I don’t want to stay here for another 10 years.” That right there was my biggest motivation so I texted Mr. Plattner: “Hey, how can I get into MCTC this fall?” And he told me to go there and take the test. I got my results and enrolled in classes.

What was your time at KIPP MN like?

I actually only went there for one year, my eighth grade year, and my experience there… the first three months, I didn’t like it, but once I started to see what the school was actually about, to see how helpful the teachers are to the students, that’s when I kind of got a different perspective on the whole KIPP organization and the program. When they say KIPP Through College, they mean through college. It’s definitely a great program.

What’s your first priority right now? What’s getting you excited?

My biggest thing I’m working on right now is getting my certificate to be a trainer so I can actual clientele, so I can be employed as an actual trainer, by a company. Once I do that, that’s when I’m gonna work on getting my own clients. Once I finish my two years here at MCTC that’s when I’m gonna branch off and get my own gym. I’d say the most exciting thing is seeing the clients who support what I’m trying to do, really, because it’s cool to see the support coming in.

What is your job at the YMCA like?

I love it, it’s kind of a people job, so you work with people all day every day and you really gotta be a people person and a multitasker — on the phone, checking people in, gotta run to the other side and make sure everything is right, make sure the facility’s looking right.

I’ve been able to talk to the personal trainers at the Y — they’re actually the ones who told me about the certificate, how to get your certificate, because before I thought you had to go to school for two years and get your personal training certificate that way but a trainer told me you could get it online, so that’s when I went to ACE to get my certificate online and that’s the only thing you need to be a personal trainer. So then I’m going to school for something else, probably business management.

What do you do in your free time?

Lately I’ve been starting to read a little bit more, I like reading more. More African American history books, just because it was February last month, black history month. There’s that, and economics books. Self-improvement stuff. From the economics, pretty much everything that I’m learning in my personal economics class, how to be a successful entrepreneur, I’ve been reading books about how to be a good entrepreneur.

What’s some advice you’d give to younger students?

Don’t let yourself give up, pretty much; it’s gonna pay off. Listen to the teachers because they’re there to help you. And you gotta stay persistent — persistence pays.