Kat Stephens is the most unlikeliest of student to be studying at am Ivy League university. An immigrant of Guyana, she came to America with her family when she was a young child. As the only one of her siblings to spend the majority of her life outside of the Caribbean sun, she was instead heavily influenced by the ease of life in America (At least what television portrayed). It never seemed unusual that she would attend college, but instead – which one. Upon high school graduation, Kat was accepted to a wide selection of private schools, the kind she had always dreamed of attending. However, at that time, her family’s finances were not able to support that dream and Kat enrolled in City College and commuted to school daily.

For many reasons, including family responsibility and high economic need Kat’s focus shifted toward working and making money to contribute to her family. Soon enough, she withdrew from college and spent the next decade plus devoted to a thriving and creative job as an executive business manager and professional makeup artist. Feeling the urge to return to the academy, Kat applied for Borough of Manhattan Community College and made that home for two years before transferring to Sarah Lawrence College. In between that was a semester at Vassar College via the Exploring Transfer program.

During her senior year at Sarah Lawrence College, she realized how much she liked all things college related. She mentored fellow students, friends and students of hers at Vassar College on what next steps to take in their own college search. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, Kat said yes to attending the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at the University of Vermont. This was a hard choice since she received 10 acceptances out of 13 applications to grad school. After completing a quarter of her course work there, Kat decided to come back home to New York City and apply to the Higher and Postsecondary Education program at Columbia University’s Teachers College. She will earn her Ed.M in Higher and post secondary education in 2017.

With her eye on the prize, and the only school she applied to – Kat was accepted to a graduate higher education at Columbia University. Two generations before her were indentured servants on her mother’s side, neither grandparents nor parents college graduates and she was attending Columbia University. Kat believes that there is a college for everyone. In her personal and ‘spare’ time, she has coached many people to success in gaining an acceptance and strong financial aid package.

Kat has working and support experience in admissions offices for private, public and C.U.N.Y. systems for close to three years now. It is a real dream of hers to start this work of consulting today, and impact the communities of color that are full of bright, engaged, civic minded and wonderful students via their college and graduate school application process.

Kat is also writing a guide to successful college applications for those who may identify as first generation, transfer student, lower socio economic status, non-traditional, and returners to the academy – all names she proudly wears. Her research also is focused on student persistence, community college students and transfer students.

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