We are now settled into a new school year and, for some, a new school of thought. Today we are getting to know this month's cover girl, Kat Stephens of Sankofa Consulting which is a higher education consulting service that helps people of color and under served POC for college prep and finding scholarships and funding. You will learn more about her services later on in the post and how you can get in contact with her. Kat's a fly Caribbean girl hailing from Brooklyn and Queens of New York City by way of Guyana (she immigrated here with her family as a tiny tot). She is an advanced masters degree program student at Columbia University Teachers' College, a bride-to-be and a bonus mom! Homegirl's got a lot of positive things going on and a story to share that I hope inspires and provides encouragement. Keep reading to learn more about her educational journey, which includes a 10 year hiatus, and how she wants to help others find opportunities to get the education they want at schools that they want.
Kat's journey started like most young adults across the country, entering college at 18 years of age. She had dreams of attending one of the nation's best colleges but family finances couldn't fund that and she enrolled into City College, a community college in New York City. Only a few semesters passed before she put school on pause for personal reasons. That itch to finish her education never went away and she knew she would come back to it but for the next 10 years, life happened. She always had a passion for makeup and beauty and was a self taught makeup artist. When the opportunity for her to work for a very prominent makeup brand recognized worldwide presented itself to her, she grasped it and over the next 10 years there, she excelled. Kat quickly grew within the company with multiple promotions including management of one of the highest volume and profit doors in the country. She received top of the line makeup artistry training from some of the best industry artists in the world and was very well compensated with generous raises and bonuses. While this was all a heady delight, the hunger for something more kept gnawing at her and she inquired about working on the corporate side of the business; she wanted to get in there and climb higher. When she expressed this desire, it was made clear to her that she needed to have a college degree to move into corporate. This news re-ignited her desire to finish the schooling she had started and she enrolled into a community college, BMCC (Borough of Manhattan Community College). Shortly after enrolling into school, she did something very unexpected. She trusted her gut and took the leap from that ultra posh and cushy makeup artistry career to give her all to her education and never looked back.
Kat learned first hand and believes with conviction that there is money out there for any of us to go to ANY school no matter your beginnings or your socioeconomic status.
From BMCC, a (CUNY) community college, she transferred to Sarah Lawrence College which is an Ivy League school and one of the most prestigious, most exclusive and most expensive universities in the country (Google it). Boasting a 50K per year tuition, Kat received close to a full ride! From there she graduated with an equivalent of a bachelors degree (Sarah Lawrence college doesn't give grades or degrees). If this all isn't fabulous enough, she then went on to apply to 12 graduate school programs and was accepted into 10 of them! Anyone who has applied to just one college, knows how much mental energy and everything else it takes; this is a big of a deal that she not only applied to 12 schools but got into over 80% of them. She chose University of Vermont and a full ride package that included a stipend there. With the intent to leave NYC and greater NYC area, she looked forward to a change of environment in Vermont. Once she got there, she quickly realized that it wasn't the right fit and returned to NY after completing one semester. Kat didn't skip a beat and is currently enrolled in the advanced graduate degree program at Columbia University Teachers' College, another very prominent and prestigious school in the country! On a full ride! She plans to get her PhD and maybe then she'll be done or maybe she'll stay an eternal student.
She started at a community college and went on to get into Ivy League schools; a little Guyanese baby immigrant from Brooklyn and Queens!
How did she get into exclusive, uber expensive and Ivy League schools for practically free without six figure school loan debt? Along this journey she researched to the point of borderline scary obsession and learned a lot about admissions and applications, the ins and outs of finding funding and college/university admissions structures. Kat maintained high GPA's and also formed relationships with students and faculty, was active in school organizations and created daily and application practices that helped her become a candidate that schools would pay HER to attend there.
With all this knowledge and her experiences, she pledges to help others through her higher education consulting business, Sankofa Consulting. Being a Guyanese immigrant from modest beginnings and a person of color, she especially intends to share her insight and savvy with people of color and under served people of color to help them find the tools, resources and money to go to schools they want for an education that they want. Kat learned first hand and believes with conviction that there is money out there for anyone to go to ANY school no matter your beginnings or your socioeconomic status. Her consulting services include, but are not limited to:
- Coaching for obtaining partial or full ride scholarships
- College prep for high school students and parents, non-traditional students and new and returning to college applicants
- Graduate school prep: applications and finding funding
- Coaching and resources for effective completion of FAFSA forms to receive as many grants and as much aid that one can qualify for
- Coaching for scholarship applications
Sankofa also helps clients identify what they are genuinely interested getting an education in so that pursuing that degree is excitable and is rewarding. Sankofa Consulting matches your desire and drive with tools and resources necessary for obtaining an education and one that means something to you. You can learn more about Sankofa Consulting at http://sankofaconsulting.wordpress.com. Follow along with them on Instagram at @sankofaedu and Periscope at @edusankofa as well.
TakeawayKat exemplifies the thought that no matter your beginnings, if your drive and strong desire is there, you can achieve whatever you want. Start where you are, with what you have; it is NEVER too late. It took Kat 10 years to start again after her first time. She started at a community college and went on to get into Ivy League schools; a little Guyanese baby immigrant from Brooklyn and Queens! her first time, keep going guys. Dream big and believe guys! Take chances. I'm sure it was scary as hell walking away from a great job that was glamorous and paid well but it just goes to show that when you stay true to yourself and lean into what you love and are called to do, only greatness can can be the result. Lastly, God-the Universe wants what you desire more than you do. There are resources out there, like Sankofa Consulting, waiting for you to find them and use them so they can help you. Lean into what you want and the path will appear.
And if you reach out to Sankofa Consulting, let them know that AGrlCanMAC sent you! Wishing you all a great school year whether it's in the school of life, college or beyond.
Milan is a New York City based, creative writer and the founder of AGrlCanMAC. She's a self proclaimed accessories junkie who's passionate about healthy living, adventure, books, crystals, the Law of Attraction and arts & crafts. AGrlCanMAC is a resource for women of color all over the world who want to look good, radiate good and feel good at the same damn time.
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