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Q + A: MAPCS with Mirna Serrano Barahona

Welcome to this week’s Q + A! Where I try to find amazing leaders on campus to talk about their involvement inside and outside the community of St. Kate’s.

To kick off this segment on HCSTCU I have selected a wonderful human who has mentored and supported me throughout my time at St. Kate’s. Soon to be graudate, Mirna Serrano Barahona a Legal Studies major with a Communications minor and an active Latina in the Twin Cities will be answering questions around MAPCS, a group she’s been involved with for a long while. 

Q: What is MAPCS?

A: MAPCS stands for, Minnesota Association of Private College Students. It exists under the Minnesota Private College Council. “We exist to empower campus communities through student collaboration by sharing knowledge and best practices, providing student leadership development, and engaging and advocating at the collegiate and state level” (2017 MAPCS Constitution.) MAPCS have between 2-3 representatives per private college in MN. Most of the representatives are on their student governments. We require the president of each school to sit as a representative.

Q: How did you get involved?

A: When I was in student government at St. Kate’s as a sophomore, I heard about MAPCS through the president of Senate. I did not think much of it and went on a retreat at Gustavus Adolphus College. While there I met the rest of the MAPCS representatives and found myself surrounded by inspiring students. I have stayed ever since.

Q: What do you do with MAPCS?

A: I began as a representative for St. Catherine University and am now co-chair of MAPCS. Currently, I coordinate meetings for our representatives where we get together on a monthly basis to speak about issues on our respective campuses. School representatives with a connection to that issue then chime in and help the students find best practices to solutions. I also attend meetings at the Office of Higher Education where I represent both St. Catherine University and MAPCS. At these meetings, I am exposed to legislative updates and program opportunities that may be of interest to our universities. Our legislative affairs chair also attends these meetings. He brings the information from these meetings to our larger MAPCS meetings where everyone can get updated.

Q: Why should we care about MAPCS?

A: Pursuant to MN Statute 136A.031 subdivision 3 and 4 (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=136A.031).  Meetings at the office of higher education are written into law. Based on this mandate, students must sit in an advisory board for the Office of Higher Education. MAPCS works to be the voice of the private schools in MN. MAPCS brings our schools together so that we can have a voice in what changes we want. In addition to this, in budget years, MAPCS is incredibly important in advocating for funding of our schools. Specifically, the Minnesota State Grant is one of the most important bills we lobby for as a collective. MAPCS also gives students the chance to other leadership opportunities. 

It was from my connection to MAPCS that I got an opportunity with the MN Private College Council as their Government Relations and Communication Fellow! They opened so many doors for me and have for other students too! 

Q: What is MAPCS planning for its students now?

A: MAPCS always has leadership opportunities. (Did I mention that?) Our events chairs plan events for our schools every year. Just last semester we had a conference at St. Olaf College focused on mental health at each other’s campuses. In addition to this, we had speakers come in. Currently and in the works is a spring event planned by a MAPCS member over at our brother school, St. Thomas. The invite is open to all of our private college campuses, so keep an eye out for that via our facebook page (HERE).

Q: How can students get involved?

A: Getting involved is always a tricky question with multiple answers when it comes to MAPCS. This is because each college and university works differently in their recruitment but here are a few ways:

– Ask your student government leaders. Being that the president of each student government is on MAPCS they would be able to connect you to the advisor or representatives for the school!

– Email/Call the director of community and government relations at the MPCC. Email:  [email protected]

-Visit our website if you want more information our members and past events! (https://www.mnprivatecolleges.org/mapcs

                                                    St. Kate’s students that attended the conference on mental health in the 2017 fall semester. 


Andrea Duarte-Alonso is a grad from Saint Catherine University where she received her bachelor's of Art in Political Science, Women's Studies, and English. She founded HC STCU in order to include voices that are hardly ever represented in media. Andrea is a storyteller, writer, and a political enthusiast. Her areas of interest lie in writing (check her website storiesfromunheardvoices.com that was created for her community), traveling, and fighting for social justice issues.
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