Dease Scholarship Essays

Sometimes sending off an application can feel like pitching a paper airplane into the void. Is anybody on the other side? Who’s reading that application? What are they looking for?

The Dease Scholarship Program has recently undergone some changes as to who is catching those paper airplanes. The Dease Scholarship, started in 2004 and named after St. Thomas’ 14th president, Father Dennis Dease, focuses on diversity by bringing underrepresented students to our community of scholars and provides them with a four-year, full-tuition scholarship. Twelve to 20 scholarships are given out each year, and the program has brought more than 200 students to St. Thomas since its inception.

While the selection process used to be completed by the Admissions Office, in order to truly live out the mission of diversity and inclusion, that process has been opened up to involve more members across St. Thomas’ community. Below, some of them discuss how to make the strongest application possible and just why the Dease Scholarship is such an important staple of St. Thomas.

Diversity and inclusion

When an application for the Dease Scholarship arrives at St. Thomas, Teron Buford, assistant director of admissions and coordinator of multicultural recruitment, becomes its guide. And there can be quite a few: Approximately 300 applications arrived this year and last.

This year, those applications were divvied up amongst 10 reading teams. Buford pulled together staff and faculty so people with different viewpoints across campus would have more say in who is receiving a Dease Scholarship.

“The campus community got an opportunity to weigh in on these students,” Buford said. “They got a chance to have a horse in the race in which students are going to come to St. Thomas.”

Students were asked to write two essays as part of their applications: “In 400 words or less, tell us what receiving this scholarship would mean to you and your family” and “In 500 words or less, describe the value of having diversity in a learning community and how you would promote and celebrate different cultures while a student at St. Thomas.”

Both essays were given to the reading teams, along with the name of the student and his or her high school.

Each team selected their top four applications to move onto the next round. While reading, many of the reviewers said the essays that stood out had compelling stories with specific examples, were written well and showed how the student would fit into the St. Thomas community.

Amy Finnegan, assistant professor and chair of the Justice and Peace Studies Department, said the essays that impressed her the most had concrete ideas of how to implement diversity and inclusion at St. Thomas.

“I was most drawn to students who would comment on the [value of celebrating diversity], but also saw that there was equity work that was important to make that happen,” Finnegan said. “[They] talked about mentoring programs they wanted to create, with students of color at home or from outside of St. Thomas.”

Cynthia Fraction, director of the Excel! Research Scholars Program, echoed the sentiment that the more specific an example, the better.

“Students were able to tie in academic experiences and be able to say something to the effect of, ‘This is what I learned in this particular class. It’s teaching and motivating me. I struggled, but I came through, and this is how I succeeded. … And then I used what I learned to give back to a community or give back to someone else,’” Fraction said.


Photographer Mark Brown captured the faces of a few Dease Scholarship recipients at the moment they learned of their selection.

Dominique McNeely

Malcolm Lawson

Mackenzie Fannin

Highland Park Senior High School senior Amaris Holguin hugs an admissions counselor after learning she is a recipient of the Dease Scholarship.


Finnegan said that she liked working in pairs – her partner was Kanishka Chowdhury, professor of English and director of St. Thomas’ American culture and difference minor – because it helped to see what other parts of the St. Thomas community were interested in. For example, she said that she liked to see students who focused on lenses of power and privilege. Fraction, on the other hand, liked students who demonstrated how scholarly they were. So, the teams had to explain their reasoning and negotiate to come to conclusions on who moved forward. Repeat this process throughout 10 teams, and a lot of different viewpoints were infused into those semifinalists.

“We really want to mix it up to make sure diverse students are applying, but also that there are diverse thought processes at the table when determining which students move forward in this process,” Buford said.

Pieces in a puzzle

Once the top 40 applications are selected, they return to Buford. He convenes with admissions counselors to ask if there are any students the counselors would like to advocate for. In this regard, Buford advised students who feel strongly about coming to St. Thomas to make sure their counselor knows that.

“Am I more willing – heck, do I even know – to advocate for a student I’ve never had a conversation with?” Buford said. “I don’t think so. The counselors, when they provide feedback for which students they really want to see get this scholarship, [they’re not] going to be pulling straws or names out of a hat. … That student will never know the background stuff that happened between the application and admittance, but they should note that their hard work, along with their commitment to being involved in this process … certainly went a long way.”

After that, Buford sends all the information to Dan Meyer, vice president for enrollment management, and Kris Roach, executive director of admissions and financial aid. Meyer and Roach see everything that comes with students’ applications, including their academic profiles and the comments from the readers and admission counselors.

Meyer said that, per student, there are several factors they look at:

  • Class rigor: If students have the opportunity to take an AP or IB class, did they, and how well did they do in those classes?
  • Grade track: The expectation is that students made strong grades throughout their academic career, or at least finished strong.
  • SAT/ACT scores: Meyer emphasized that SAT/ACT scores are not the most important factor, but just another puzzle piece, and that piece should fit in with the overall picture of what the class rigor and grade track are saying.
  • Co-curricular involvement, including what type of clubs and activities students have been involved in, how long they were involved and how skills attained from those activities might be beneficial.

“The best qualified candidate isn’t always the student who has the highest academic credentials,” Meyer said. “If that was the case, we could just line these [applications] up and go from highest to lowest. … [We try to] find out who that student is as a person and get to know the things they have done or overcome, the challenges that they met that contribute to their success. I think we’re truly getting a holistic evaluation when we’re selecting a student for the Dease Scholarship.”

Finally, Meyer and Roach look at all the other factors that come into making a well-rounded class, such as balancing gender ratios, geographic diversity and diversity in majors.

With all that in mind, they then select the finalists.

Celebrating the winners

Buford and his team work to notify the winners – and the new process allows for some surprise. Buford partners with a winner’s high school to devise a fun way to share the good news.

“We’ll be kind of hiding, and the student won’t really know, and we’ll come out and say, ‘You got this great scholarship! Congratulations! Come on down!’ The parents will be there, and they cry. It’s a great experience,” Buford said. “I can’t stress enough how much of an impact this scholarship has on students. … That person is going to have their life significantly changed by this scholarship. Those are the moments that float you through this recruitment cycle, knowing that, at the end, we’re going to be able to affect 15-20 students and give them this opportunity that might have not otherwise been available to them. That’s really cool.”

Chowdhury said that, for him, this scholarship was one of the clearest ways St. Thomas can live up to the phrase, “All for the Common Good.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to open our doors for people who could never afford to come here,” Chowdhury said. “At the moment of release our new brand, All for the Common Good, there’s nothing more material one can cite … than to have programs like this.”

Of course, the other half of that is how vital these students are to St. Thomas’ campus.

“Diversity is one of the pillars we’ve held here at St. Thomas, and diversity is one of Dr. Sullivan’s top priorities for the institution moving forward,” Buford said. “Having a student body in here that is not only diverse and inclusive – and who understand the importance of both – won’t enrich us on paper. It won’t change the average ACT or GPA of an incoming student. But what it will do is create a learning environment where students leave and feel they were exposed to perspectives different from their own.”

And that is valuable no matter where students are coming from or where they’re going.

“We have richer learning and dialogue when we have people coming from different perspectives,” Finnegan said. “It teaches important skills to students, and it’s rewarding, life-giving and fun.”

In her column in the fall 2015 St. Thomas magazine, President Julie Sullivan talked about how these Dease Scholars will “contribute to a richer education and a stronger Tommie network committed to advancing the common good.”

So, how would Meyer like to improve on a program that contributes so much?

“I wish we had more awards,” he said.



Scholarship Opportunities:

Check out Fastweb


Ongoing Scholarships to consider: 

Hmong American Education Fund

HAEF Scholarship Criteria Summary

Criteria for ALL Scholarships:

  • All applicants must be a US citizen or legal resident alien.
  • All applicants must be accepted to and attending an accredited college or university for the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Please see each individual scholarship for additional information regarding the essay requirement and applicant objectives
  • If you have any additional questions, please contact us directly at

Pierce Butler Scholarship

On behalf of the Phi Kappa Psi Minnesota Beta chapter at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, I am pleased to announce the availability of a scholarship to be awarded to high school seniors who will be attending the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities next fall.

The Pierce Butler Scholarship will be awarded annually to incoming male University of Minnesota-Twin Cities undergraduate freshmen.

In creating the Pierce Butler Scholarship, we hope to help lower the costs of freshman year. The Minnesota Beta Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi recognizes excellence in the classroom, in leadership, and in the community for incoming freshman men to the University of Minnesota. This scholarship is designed to promote academic excellence among a new generation of Golden Gophers, while stewarding a positive campus atmosphere. By applying for the Pierce Butler Scholarship, applicants are under no obligation to join or otherwise become affiliated with the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

Recipients of the scholarship will be chosen based on merit in the classroom and in the community.

All applications for this scholarship must be submitted no later than June 30th, 2017. Applications can be found at For more information about the Pierce Butler Scholarship please refer to our website at


Linden Scholarship

The Linden Scholarship Committee is seeking students who are committed to improving their communities through active volunteer service.  Additionally, the scholarship committee is looking for students who permanently reside in Washington, Ramsey, or Dakota counties, maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need.  Recipients must be enrolled in a two-year ot four-year college or vocation school.

For mor information, please visit

Deadline is Friday, April 13, 2018.


Smart Money Teen Essay Contest:  


The Minnesota Council on Economic Education and COUNTRY Financial are teaming up again this year for the 2018 Money Smart Teen Essay Contest! Students in grades 9-12 from your school are invited to submit an essay on financial literacy for a chance to win a $3,000 scholarship. Plus two runner-ups will win a $1,000 scholarship!


This year's essay topic is: 


Write a brief newspaper article describing the potentially devastating effects of a natural disaster (fire, flood, hurricane, etc.) on a family’s financial situation. Select only one type of natural disaster for the focus of your article. Be sure to include tips and resources for readers to help prepare them for a potential future unexpected crisis. 


For more information on how to enter your students, go to  Essays are due by 5:00 p.m. March 16.



A-1 Auto Transport Annual Scholarship: 

Any current, full-time, part-time student of an accredited or non-accredited institute, truck driving school or other logistics program, must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 to become eligible. There is no requirement of minimum age.

How do I apply?

To apply for this scholarship, applicants must write an essay/article (of at least 1000 words and may NOT be posted elsewhere on the internet) about a topic related to this site. Some typical topics could be anything related to:

Applications will be taken on a rolling basis. Email your essay/article to: along with your full name, contact information, and school you will be attending.  Deadline March 10, 2018


Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Scholarship: CRITERIA * African-American high school graduating senior - Class of 2018 * Minimum cumulative and unweighted GPA of 3.0 (scale of 4.0) * Demonstrated leadership and community service * Acceptance at 2 - 4 year accredited institution of higher education in FALL 2018 (scholarships will not be distributed until proof of full-time enrollment is received) * Resident of Minnesota 


Visit to download application. Contact for questions or concerns. Please type or print neatly in the space provided. All sections must be completed. Applications are also available in the Guidance Office.



Hireinfluence Scholarship

We would like to invite students to apply to our HireInfluence Scholarship. We believe in supporting passionate, hardworking, and talented college students and to support budding entrepreneurs, future leaders, and all students, we are offering a $500 Entrepreneur annual Scholarship. The scholarship amount is $500 awarded towards College Tuition/Expenses.

Please add this link to your scholarship page.

Scholarship Eligibility:

  • Applicant must be within the ages of 18 to 25.

  • Applicant must be currently enrolled at an accredited high school, college or university in the United States or Canada by selection date or enrolled at an accredited high school, college or university in the United States or Canada during the time of submission.

  • Applicant must submit one submission per person.

  • Average GPA must be 2.0 or higher.


  • Scholarship submission due by May 31st.

  • Winning submission selected by June 30th.


Woodbury Lions Club Scholarship- $1,000 Award


The Woodbury Lions Club will be awarding up to five $1,000 scholarships in 2018.  These scholarships will be awarded on the basis of service to community, extracurricular activities, academic achievement, overcoming adversity, need and leadership. The applicant should be an individual who energetically pursues their studies.  Scholarships will be awarded for the next school year. The scholarships will be $1,000 for one year (the scholarship will be awarded upon confirmation of enrollment). The applicant must be a graduating senior student who is a resident of Woodbury. The grant will be paid directly to and administered by the college, community college or university. The scholarship will be paid at the beginning of the student’s term. Applications must be submitted through your counselor and the guidance office at your school. The deadline for the application is March 2, 2018.


SeniorAdvice Caregiver Scholarship - $2,000 Award

For students who have acted as caregiver to an adult relative in any capacity:


The St. Croix Valley Chapter 331 of the Vietnam Veterans of America has established a scholarship to provide two (2), $1,000 awards this year to a graduating senior who plans to continue his or her education in an associate degree program or above.  To qualify the senior must meet the following requirements:


·         Be a legal relative of a Vietnam era veteran or be sponsored by a Vietnam era veteran.  Please ask for assistance if your                    student needs a sponsor by calling John Telschow 651-470-3151 or Dave Niederer 715-246-7609.

·         Be a graduating senior during the current school year with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

·         Submit an application form and essay no later than April 1st of this year.

·         Submit a teacher/mentor evaluation form and/or a comment sheet by April 1st.

·         Be a resident of Polk, Pierce, St. Croix, Dunn or Pepin County in Wisconsin or Washington or Goodhue County in Minnesota.


For more information please visit our website, .  For additional information or questions please call 651-470-3151 or email us at  


Veterans of Foreign Wars of the US/Arthur O Haukland Post 1350- Applications are available in the Guidance Office.  Must have a family member active in the post or it's auxiliary. 

Seniors who have or will be applying to Century College and  would like to go into one of these fields:

Attached is a flyer for the scholarship.  We are looking to award the scholarship to 14 new students this fall.  More information about the scholarship can also be found through this link:

Century College Workforce Development Scholarship

St. Thomas’ Dease Scholarship Program

 The University of St. Thomas’ 14th President, Father Dennis Dease, initiated this scholarship program to increase access to a St. Thomas education for historically underrepresented students. The Dease Scholarship Program provides full-tuition scholarships to qualified, underrepresented, first-generation students and graduates from urban high schools in select locations. Over its 10-year history, the Dease Scholarship Program has successfully supported more than 200 students.

This is a competitive process and students will need to submit an essay to the Office of Admissions and have a complete admissions application by February 21st of their senior year in high school. The online scholarship application is accessible through their admissions application portal, Dease Scholars receive full-tuition scholarships that are awarded in addition to other need-based assistance they may be eligible for through the FAFSA process. Funds from all sources may not exceed the cost of tuition, fees, room and board, and an allowance for books and personal expenses. To build a solid foundation for their academic success, Dease Scholars live on campus the first two years of their St. Thomas career.

Please promote and list the Dease Scholarship Program in your correspondence with students at your high school. Additional information concerning the Dease Scholarship Program may be found on our website at I encourage your students to follow the steps outlined above so they are included in the Dease Scholarship review process. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Aspiring Nurse Scholarship

$1,000 scholarship to a future nurse in the high school graduating class of 2018.


We will award this scholarship to the applicant who best demonstrates:

+ A track record of academic excellence, particularly in science and mathematics

+ A passion for the nursing profession and the overall field of healthcare


This scholarship competition is open to all high school seniors who plan to pursue college education in nursing, including LPN / LVN, ADN, and BSN programs. Scholarship applications will be accepted until midnight on August 31, 2018.


Interested students may visit and click the banner on the right-hand side of the website's homepage. Here they'll find detailed scholarship information and the official application form.

Minnesota Associations of Townships

MAT is a nonprofit corporation representing Minnesota townships and it's 9,000 plus oficers. MAT's specific purposes are educational and charitable: educating the public about the heritage and future of township government and its role in state government; and providing townships and their officers with a single, unified voice, as well as access to educational programs and research-based materials to help foster the delivery of efficient, effective, and economical township government.

For more information, and to apply, please visit the Minnesota Association of Townships website


 American Legion Post 39, The American Legion  Memorial Scholarship, Minnesota American Legion Foundation Scholarship

Applications are available in the Guidance Office.  

ACT Student Champion Award

Applications are open for the ACT Student Champion Award! The ACT Student Champion Award recognizes one student in each state who is tenacious and persistent, no matter the challenge, and is prepared for life after high school with a goal in mind and plan in place. 

ACT Student Champions receive a $500 non-renewable scholarship, certificate, plaque, and state-level recognition. 

Please encourage students in the graduating class of 2018 who have taken the ACT who fit the following criteria to apply: 

  • A student who has overcome challenges and can articulate education and career actions
  • Students must have a composite ACT score of a 22 on a single test date or a 3.0 or greater on a 4.0 scale
  • Preference will be given to underrepresented and/or first-generation college students.

Applications can be found at Applications are due December 31, 2017, and champions will be notified on or before April 2, 2018. If applicants are under the age of 18, they must complete this form in addition to the application. 


The University of Minnesota's Office for Equity and Diversity would like to share a couple scholarship opportunities for historically underrepresented students for the 2018-2019 academic year. Recipients of these scholarships are amongst our top students, and they go on to become successful contributors to their communities. Please feel free to disseminate this information to your students and community contacts. If you have any questions, please contact Ralph Blanco ( or 612-625-8680).  

Historically underrepresented students of color who will…

… graduate from a Minnesota high school and have been accepted to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities should consider applying for the Puckett Scholars Program. The online application can be found here. Deadline is March 1, 2018.

American Indian high school students who will…

… be attending any of the University of Minnesota campuses starting in the Fall 2018 semester should consider applying for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) Endowed Scholarship. The online application can be found here. Deadline for new undergraduate students is March 1, 2018.


The Beauty + Wellness Scholarship for Women 

Each quarter we award $1,000 + a care package filled with healthy organic goodies to young women who are striving to maintain their health and wellness as they pursue their higher education goals.  

Here is a brief summary of the eligibility requirements:
    • Award: $1,000
    • Quarterly Deadlines: January 1, March 31st, June 30th, and September 30th every year
    • Eligibility:
        + Must be a graduating high school senior, current college undergraduate, or current graduate student at a 4-year, 2-year,         vocational, or technical school in the United States.
        + Must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
        + Must identify as female.
        + We welcome all majors and GPAs to apply!

Minnesota School Counselors Association 

For eligibility and application requirements please visit the website

2018 St. Paul Area Association of REALTORS (SPAAR) Scholarship

Applications will be available in January 2018.  To be eligible for this scholarship, you must have a parent or grandparent be an active member of SPAAR.  Please contact SPAAR to receive an application packet.


INDY Display Scholarship

The team at Indy Displays is proud to help further the education of tomorrow’s professionals in graphic design and visual arts. The work of great designers is crucial to the production of each outstanding display we deliver to our clients. Indy Displays believes in supporting talented artists and is offering a scholarship for students pursuing a degree in Graphic Design or Applied Arts.

Our $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to one applicant per year. The application consists of a graphic design submission and essay prompt. For more information about our scholarship, please follow this link to our website:

We would love for this opportunity to reach as many students as possible before our deadline July 1, 2018!


 Redfin Scholarship (GPA must be 3.5 and higher)
This $2,500 scholarship is a way for Redfin to help one student on his or her journey through higher education. We are looking forward to reading each submission!For the November 1, 2017 to January 31, 2018 session, answer the following question in 300-500 words:

"Technology and big data are disrupting nearly every facet of our lives. Amazon disrupted the retail industry, Uber disrupted the taxi industry, and Redfin has disrupted real estate. What industry do you think will be disrupted next, and why?"


Mike Zimmer's MVP Scholarship 


Coach Zimmer will be awarding 2 MVP scholarships yearly to 1 outstanding male and female athlete from the state of Minnesota.  The scholarship will include $10,000.00 dollars towards a 4-year university of their choice.

For more information and to apply visit

College Covered Scholarship 

At Discover, we believe in providing financial literacy to high school students so they can make informed decisions during the college financial aid planning process. Visit for valuable free resources:  Scholarship Sweepstakes — Beginning mid-March, students can enter to win a $2,500 Discover® Student Loans  Scholarship Award.  We are giving away a total of $100,000 in scholarships to 40 individuals.  New for 2017 - Parents of  eligible students can enter to win on behalf of their student.

Scholarship Search — Students and families can search over 3 million scholarships online.

Articles and Videos — Read up on college planning and financial aid topics, including understanding the award letter.


Best Mattress Reviews Scholarship 


We’re offering a $1,000 scholarship to eligible HS seniors, current college and graduate students in an effort to give back and also promote sleep awareness.


Check out all of the details here:



Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) Endowed Scholarship

for American Indian  


The SMSC scholarship program supports incoming University of Minnesota first-year and transfer undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need. Scholarships may also be awarded to newly-admitted graduate and professional students in specific disciplines. Scholarships are renewable for up to eight semesters for undergraduates, depending on your degree program and contingent upon academic performance. For graduate and professional students, the length of funding is contingent upon academic performance, the school of enrollment, the degree program, and will be determined on a case-by-case basis.


For questions about the SMSC scholarship program, contact me, Ralph Blanco, Office for Equity and Diversity, at 612-625-8680



Guaranteed Scholarships 


No essays, projects, recommendations or other secondary criteria are required. And, in almost all cases, there are no limits to the number of scholarships awarded.

Students who meet the published criteria for a scholarship and attend the college offering it receive and's, if's or but's.

There is no charge for anyone to use our page and we never collect student information of any kind.



SFM Foundation Scholarship


SFM Foundation was created in 2008, and in their first 8 years they have awarded approximately $1.1 million in scholarships. Awards up to $10,000 per year, for up to 5 years, these scholarships are substantial enough to make a difference in the lives of students who have experienced the loss of parents while working for Minnesota, Iowa, or Wisconsin employers.  Applications available at



The American Legion-National High School Oratorical Contest 

The High School Oratorical Scholarship Contest is one of the best programs offered by The American Legion, and affords opportunities for High School students to win valuable scholarships for their future education.  For more information please visit . 


Ithaca College Park Scholar Program 

This program is offered to academically exceptional students who have demonstrated a deep commitment to service and leadership in their communities.  At least ten merit-based scholarship are awarded to outstanding high school seniors each year.  For more information please see the "Scholarships" bulletin board or visit 



Minnesota Mensa Foundation's College Scholarship Program


Mensa Foundation scholarships are awarded on the basis of an essay that describes the applicant’s career, vocational, and/or academic goals along with information that shows how the applicant intends to achieve the stated goal. The general scholarships are unrestricted as to age, race, gender, level of education, grade point average, or financial need.


Application Information can be found at:



Helpful websites for more scholarship opportunities:





 Learn how to:



Search the following online sources for more opportunities:

  • FastAid Fastweb has information regarding how to apply for scholarships, basic information on what financial aid consists of, and includes links to several sites on college entrance and scholarship search. User may do a custom search and is able to select specific scholarships from the initial search and save them.

  • Guaranteed Scholarships This site lists scholarships awarded by specific schools to studentswho qualify. These scholarships require no essays, interviews, or competition.




Remember to look for scholarship opportunities through your(or your parents') employers, civic organizations, clubs and churches.


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