For senior business students Maddy Morehouse and Sarah Isse, a day each semester is officially spoken for.

That’s because the two have each of the last two semesters teamed with Minneapolis nonprofit Cookie Cart to bring about 15 of its student workers to St. Thomas for a full-day Beginning Business Acumen Conference, exposing them to life as college students and connecting their budding skill sets to college futures. The first event took place last spring, followed by another on Oct. 18 and a planned third edition during spring semester.

“One of our goals was to give them an opportunity to see what it was like to be a student on campus,” said Morehouse, who started the first conference as part of a scholarship program with Principal Financial. “Why not offer a conference opportunity for students in the community to come and see what St. Thomas is all about, particularly students who are perhaps underrepresented in higher education communities, or in the St. Thomas community as well.”

Isse took part as a panelist in the first conference and connected with Morehouse as members of the Undergraduate Business Council, where Morehouse is the director of community service and philanthropy, and Isse is director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“It’s given the opportunity to see that college is accessible to them and, if they want to go to college, then it is a thing that can happen for them,” Isse said.

St. Thomas seniors Maddy Morehouse, left, and Sarah Isse, right, work alongside teen youth, volunteering at Cookie Cart, a bakery and non-profit that employs teenagers, providing them with leadership skills and work experience, in Minneapolis on December 19, 2019.

St. Thomas seniors Maddy Morehouse, left, and Sarah Isse, right, work alongside teen youth, volunteering at Cookie Cart, a bakery and nonprofit that employs teenagers, providing them with leadership skills and work experience, in Minneapolis.

Jam-packed day

Building on the first conference’s original programming, the latest event featured a full slate of programming, including a workshop with Dougherty Family College career and academic success coach Amy Kadrmas on understanding and using transferable skills; a diversity and leadership workshop with Student Diversity and Inclusion Services’ Dia Yang; a panel discussion with student club leaders; and a tour of Dougherty Family College and both Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses.

“We worked on laying out skills that they have been learning at Cookie Cart and what they were doing with their job, and how they would be able to apply those to their next job and how they can write those on a resume for other jobs or for college,” Morehouse said of the transferable skills workshop.

“The diversity and leadership workshop was focused on working with identity and learning about other student identities, as well as being aware of your own identity,” Isse said. “That was intense but also very educational and eye-opening, just hearing different life stories and life experiences with their classmates, but also kind of recognizing their identity and how that all fits together.”

Morehouse and Isse are looking forward to putting together another conference in the spring, and in developing younger St. Thomas students to continue building on the partnership and event.

“For us as Tommies, part of that is being able to mentor other students, whether that’s on this campus or other campuses … trying to give them the opportunity to learn more about you and you learn more about them, and to learn what it’s like to be at college. That’s something you can’t easily find and can be so important,” Isse said.

“St. Thomas is an accessible and a viable option for so many people,” Morehouse said. “If we can make those connections for students and help open them to opportunities, that aligns perfectly with the St. Thomas mission of doing things all for the common good.”
Freshly scooped balls of cookie dough sit at Cookie Cart, a bakery and non-profit that employs teenagers, providing them with leadership skills and work experience, in Minneapolis on December 19, 2019.

Freshly scooped balls of cookie dough sit at Cookie Cart, a bakery and non-profit that employs teenagers, providing them with leadership skills and work experience, in Minneapolis on December 19, 2019.

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