Kate Foley—Community First

woman smiling

“Things in Minneapolis just clicked. This is where I’m meant to be,” said Kate Foley, reflecting on how they ended up here, of all places. Born in Canada, raised along the East Coast, a brief stay in England and now a student at Minneapolis College, the task of understanding the idea of community, after experiencing it in many different ways, has become central to Foley’s journey. 

“[Community] is such a multi-faceted thing. It’s an ever-evolving term. It’s the intersection between being an individual and being a part of a greater whole … being a part of something bigger than yourself.”

It was these various experiences, being surrounded by different people in different environments, that led to Foley to pursue a degree in Community Development at Minneapolis College. When asked what brought them to Minneapolis College, Foley paused, “I think it’s more important to ask why I’ve stayed through the pandemic. Despite all of the uncertainty, I feel very heard here.”

It’s Foley’s wish that all students feel heard and supported at Minneapolis College. This principle guides the work they are involved in outside of the classroom. Through organizing with the Students Against Hunger and Homelessness (SAHH) club on campus, Foley works to make sure the institution understands the different barriers some students face when it comes to access to resources. They are currently working to organize a winter survival-kit drive for students who may be highly mobile or experiencing homelessness during the coming winter months.

Foley also works within the Equity and Inclusion Division as a leading voice for the Community Healing Collaborative (CHC). The CHC is a multi-campus grant project based out of Minneapolis College that works to build community-based ecosystems that support diverse needs for the mental and overall health of students, faculty, staff and the communities that the College serves.

This goal is achieved through promoting meaningful dialogue within the Minneapolis College community. According to Foley, “without communication there is no community.”

Foley has been a key contributor to bringing 2 projects to life under the umbrella of the CHC Initiative. The first is the twice-weekly Living Room Conversations series, where community members gather to discuss selected topics, ranging from Media and Polarization to Gender, Race and Sexuality in Political Leadership, in a structured format meant to promote authenticity and vulnerability.

The second is a project called Student Voices. This project seeks to acknowledge and validate all voices by building bridges of understanding and connection. According to Foley, “it serves as a video series, almost like a vlog, where students can respond to different prompts. We’re encouraging students to try and keep-up with their community during this time.”

This commitment to community displayed by Foley extends far beyond the walls of Minneapolis College. Whether they are volunteering at Boneshaker Books in the Seward neighborhood or running their small online poetry press, it is always with a community-first approach.

“Community is about what we have to offer each other. We need to continue building connections.”