Minds Matter sets standards

A Twin Cities college program turns heads


Anisa Kahin

Member of Minds Matter, Kumera Bekele, presents March 11. The presentation was on the energy crisis.

Minds Matter is a three year college program whose goal is to make sure that all of their students go to college 100% debt free.Qualifying applicants will be invited to participate in an interview process with an admissions committee who will select the 2023-24 cohort. Minds Matter is geared toward high-achieving students with an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher who also qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Head of the sophomore department, Heidi Heitzman, said her goal for the Minds Matter students is that they not only end up in college, but they make an impact in the world.

The end goal for Minds Matter students is success in college and beyond,” Heitzman said. “Minds Matter focuses on pillars of academic enrichment, mentorship, self-discovery and development — which work together to develop a skill-set for our students that prepare them not only for college success, but to create a strong future and positive impact on the world.”

Mentor Rakel Crockett said her goal for her mentee is that she feels encouraged and gets into her first summer program choice.

One of my goals for my mentee was that she would get accepted into her first choice summer program and that she feels supported from me,” Crokett said. “Whether it’s for Minds Matter, school-related or personal issues.”

Amal Ahmed, a sophomore in the Minds Matter program, said her end goal is to end up in college debt free and hopes this program will help her achieve that.

“One of the things I really liked that Heidi said during our first meeting was (that) she was going to help us go through college debt free,” Ahmed said. “I come from a family with a lot of siblings so I’m not sure how all of us are going to pay for college.”

Heitzman said she started working for Minds Matter because she knew there was a barrier that young people faced when they wanted to be successful in college and she wanted to help remove it.

I started volunteering with Minds Matter because I believe higher education is a powerful tool to open up possibilities in life,” Heidi said. “I wanted to help remove barriers that young people face in reaching and succeeding in college.”

Crockett said she decided to become a mentor because she used to be part of Minds Matter and she wanted to go back one day to help.

“I was a participant in Minds Matter when I was in high school and knew that I wanted to come back one day as a mentor,” Crockett said.

When Minds Matter started, Heitzman said she was able to work with a large class of students and they always met their needs. But after COVID-19, they couldn’t meet in-person anymore. Nonetheless, Heitzman said this didn’t stop her from teaching online. 

“Minds Matter Twin Cities was established in 2012, and since its origin we’ve been able to work with over 100 students from across the Twin Cities.” Heiztman said. “Each year our class sizes and number of volunteers flex to meet students’ needs. During the 2020-2022 school years we met virtually for health and safety reasons, but we’ve since returned to in-person sessions hosted at the University of Minnesota.” 

Ahmed said that her experience has been great so far and she gets to express herself more.

“My experience so far has been good,” Ahmed said. “I’ve learned a lot about how to find my voice in writing (and) I learned a lot about the admissions process for colleges.”

Minds Matter scouts for students during their freshman year in high school, since it’s a three year program. Crockett said the program offers great assistance and opportunities. 

“You gain personalized help with math, writing and critical thinking skills,” Crockett said. “Mentors are there to help you and (you get) the opportunity to travel around the world to get a ‘taste’ of what life after high school is like.”

Heitzman said that Minds Matter is more than just a summer program and is a huge opportunity, even to those who just see it as summer school. 

The academic programming portion of the sophomore program provides enrichment in writing, critical thinking and math, which build necessary skills for successful ACT/SAT testing,” Heitzman said. “The sophomore program also encourages students to explore academic and career interests, begin their college search and develop a fruitful Mentor/Mentee relationship.” 

Students who will be sophomores during the 2023-24 school year can apply online at MindsMatterMN.org. More information on the  qualifying requirements for the program on the website.