Minds Matter empowers low income students

High school length college assistance program provides unique opportunities


Gabriel Kaplan

Minds Matter Director of Student Recruitment Travis Bezella and students involved in the program present to potential applicants, May 6.

Gabriel Kaplan

Junior Hilda Habia said she has enjoyed being a part of the Minds Matter program and has formed connections with other students involved in the group.

“(Minds Matter) is really good. It’s been really fun. I’ve learned a lot about life, about college, about a lot of things,” Habia said. “At the beginning, it was awkward because none of us knew each other and we were from different places. For St. Louis Park, there were five of us so we were kind of close, but throughout the years, we have gotten really close and done things outside of Minds Matter.”

According to the group’s director of student recruitment, Travis Bezella, Minds Matter gives low income students the resources necessary to go to more selective colleges.

“Minds Matter is a program for students that are on the college track, but have the opportunity to go to a more selective school,” Bezella said. “They are typically students that are already going to college, but maybe don’t have the support to widen the opportunity (provided) at the different schools that would normally be available to them.”

The travel opportunities and the college campus visits are something that’s really hard to match. It’s a great opportunity for the students.

— Barb Nelson

Habia said the program runs through the majority of high school.

“You start your sophomore year, but you apply your freshman year. It’s a three year commitment, so it’s 10th, 11th and 12th grade,” Habia said.

High school administration first connected with the program a few years ago, according to freshman grade counselor Barb Nelson, and since then they have worked to publicize the program to freshmen.

“We had a call with (the executive director), the woman who runs things, and we thought this is a great opportunity for our students,” Nelson said. “Since then, it’s been a kind of partnership where they contact us and say ‘ok it’s time to apply,’ and we’ve done different things to try to get kids learning about the programming. We’ve gone into classes, we’ve done a kind of podcast and we’ve shown them a video.”

Bezella said the program’s goal is developing resumes for college applications, which they do in part by providing free travel opportunities to those involved with the program.

“(Our) number one (priority) is building up their resumes. We want to make sure they have additional experiences that can separate them from other candidates. For instance, after their sophomore year, we do a summer program where they can go to leading universities,” Bezella said. “After their junior year, they can go to an international program. We’ve had students that have gone all over the world: Europe, Africa, Asia. Again, building that resume.”

According to Bezella, Minds Matter also assists students with academics and testing

“We have academic enrichment programs. To improve their ACT scores, we’ll do a diagnostic and then we will actually teach courses throughout the sessions in order to improve their scores,” Bezella said.

Nelson said she believes Minds Matter is a truly unique experience and hopes freshmen apply to join it next year.

“Hopefully there are some kids who are going to be interested and complete an application,” Nelson said. “The travel opportunities and the college campus visits are something that’s really hard to match. It’s a great opportunity for the students.”

Students can apply on the Minds Matter website. Applications close May 15.