Karla Benson Rutten
Title IX Coordinator/Director of Equity
My college search was a bit “untraditional.” I was raised in a working class military family (my dad was in the Air Force), and neither of my parents attended college. So, when I was in high school, I knew my only choices were either to go into the military or get a full scholarship to a college. When thinking about what college to attend, my main priority was finding a school that supported first-generation college students and offered a generous financial aid package. After being accepted into my top five schools, it came down to a decision between the school that offered me a partial academic scholarship (tuition only) and the school that offered me a full academic scholarship (tuition and housing costs for four years). I chose to attend Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, primarily because it offered me a full scholarship. Though it was not my first choice of schools, I made the most of my college experience in every way. I was active in numerous student organizations, became a Resident Assistant, joined a historically Black sorority, and graduated magna cum laude.
My current role as the director of Macalester’s Lealtad-Suzuki Center gives me the opportunity to engage with students from many different backgrounds and to work diligently to make sure that access to higher education is possible for all people.
Ruth Janisch Lake
Assistant Director, Civic Engagement Center
My college search was limited to schools close to home largely because that is what my family felt we could afford. Having graduated from a small high school, I was excited for the opportunities available on a large campus. Attending the University of Minnesota for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees allowed me to explore many options for furthering my education while maintaining connections with family and friends at home. I was thankful for the opportunity to live on campus even though I was a local student as it allowed me to focus on my academics and campus life. As a student leader with the alternative break program on campus and within our department of outdoor recreation, I found many ways to explore my interests in social justice, leadership and the outdoors.
I am very fortunate to be able to incorporate my passion for college access work with my professional life at Macalester College.
Multicultural Counselor, MAX Center
When I began my college search, I had a dream to play division I or division II basketball. After playing basketball for Edison Community College for two years, I decided to forgo playing college basketball and concentrate on my academics. As a first generation college student, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that attending college was more than attending class, basketball practice and working a part time job. I was concerned that I was not going to be able to afford college after foregoing my athletic scholarship funding. Those fears were not realized as I was able to get all the funding I needed to pay out of state tuition and other college related expenses. As a transfer student at Southwest Minnesota State, I got involved in campus activities, programs, and organizations which made my classroom studies more relevant and meaningful to my life and future goals.
I remain committed in reminding prospective college students that it’s possible to become an outstanding student, an athlete, and a participant/leader on campus simultaneously.
Assistant Director, Admissions
In my college search I was looking for a small private liberals arts college because it was the closest type of community to my public boarding school experience in Guyana. I knew that I wanted to be challenged academically, study abroad, engage in meaningful conversations about world religions and cultures and study music. Financial aid was also very important because my family could not afford to send me to college in another country. I attended St. Olaf College, in Northfield, MN and loved my undergraduate academic experience. I studied abroad twice, was a student leader and even though I did not major in music, I was able to combine all of my academic and personal passions in my studies.
I enjoy my current work because I see the need to provide access to higher education and I believe that we can all make a difference.