Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

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Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

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Spotlight Panel Discussion: Minnesota’s North Star Promise

Lilia Barrett
Members of the panel discussion break down the initiative of the Minnesota North Star Promise, and what it means for students moving forward.

The Winona State University American Democracy Project held an event in Kryzsko Commons Solarium on Thursday, March 28th. This event involved a panel of speakers including Representative Gene Pelowski, Committee Chair of Higher Education Finance and Policy, Senator Aric Putnam, Vice-Chair of Higher Education Committee, and President of the Inter Faculty Organization, Jenna Chernega.

These panelists speak about how the North Star Promise will further support students in and out of our community. The North Star Promise holds a scholarship opportunity for students with an Adjusted Gross income below $80,000.

“This scholarship will provide a tuition and fee-free pathway to higher education for all eligible Minnesota students attending Winona State University, another Minnesota public higher education institution, or Tribal College,” Winona State Communications had explained.

A question regarding the policies of the North Star Promise was directed toward the panelists: “What do you think is missing contextually from people’s understanding of higher education as a policy?” Gene Pelowski took the chance to respond.

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“The systems are not equivalent in terms of size, or the populations that they serve; the various pieces of funding and policy affect each system differently,” Pelowski said.

She goes on to say that many states are subject to legislative oversight as well, and a little less than half of our total funding for the system comes from the state of Minnesota, while the other portion comes from tuition. Senator Put- nam shares his perspective about higher education.

“There’s nothing wrong with hiring an 18-year-old with the skill set upon graduation; we can do that coming out of the two-year system, and I think we can start to do it coming out of the four-year system,” Putnam said.

When asked what her biggest takeaway from the panelist’s perspective was, Vaida Justin, a freshman at Winona State who attended the event summarized the experience.

“Making it a priority to view students as citizens rather than just consumers within the community is incredibly important. The North Star Promise allows for opportunities for students to be viewed as just that,” Justin said.

Toward the end of the panel the three panelists received questions in front of the audience to close off the event. The Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Winona State, Kara Lindaman, told her takeaway after attending the panel.

“I think there was a lot of hard work and intentionality with the North Star by a lot of different people to think about the best way to provide more access to higher education in the state of Minnesota, which is awesome,” Lindaman said.

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About the Contributor
Lilia Barrett
Lilia Barrett, News Reporter
Lilia Barrett is a Photographer and News Reporter for The Winonan and started in Spring 2024. Barrett is a first year at Winona State University majoring in Nursing and minoring in Child Advocacy Studies. In addition to working for the Winonan, Barrett is also involved in various clubs throughout campus and enjoys volunteering at nearby food shelves in Winona.  Outside of school, Barrett is a Water Safety Instructor (WSI) where she teaches children, ages 1-14, how to swim. Her favorite hobby is to go on walks with friends around cities, parks, lakes, et cetera. Barrett enjoys road trips with family, her favorite being a trip to Colorado Springs a few summers ago. 

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