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The College of St. Scholastica

The College’s TRIO Talent Search Program has been awarded a five-year $1.56 million grant from the Department of Education. Talent Search is the youngest TRIO-serving program, offering support to 564 students in grades 6th-12th annually. St. Scholastica has hosted Talent Search on its campus for 23 years.

This program works with area low-income/first-generation students with the goals of increasing secondary school persistence, on-time graduation, rigorous program of study completion and college enrollment. Talent Search advisors serve students at six area schools: Cloquet Middle School, Cloquet High School, Cromwell-Wright, Duluth Denfeld, Floodwood and Lincoln Park Middle School.

“We provide a lot of career and college exploration and academic planning,” said Kirsten Walker, Talent Search director. “Basically we are assisting students in successfully completing middle and high school, and in applying and enrolling in the post-secondary option of their choice.”

Walker has been a part of Talent Search for 17 years and said the most rewarding aspect of the program is seeing students persist and succeed. “Every success is something to celebrate, even something as simple as the passing of a class.”

The five-year grant will allow Walker and her staff to continue providing college and career awareness, test preparation, study skills, financial aid and college application assistance to the students they serve. These services are especially relevant as students make the transition back to full-time, in-person learning.

“Reaching our students and providing services through a virtual platform was definitely not ideal,” Walker said. Now that the school districts are allowing Talent Search staff back in their buildings, “students are eager to have guidance, leadership and those physical connections once more.”

Walker expressed her gratitude to the College and partner schools for their hospitality.

“I’m thankful to the College for hosting us and the community schools that welcome us; our success is because of their support.”

St. Scholastica is a 109-year-old private, independent college founded in the Catholic Benedictine tradition. It is nationally recognized for quality and value. It has been named the top Minnesota college for economic mobility, and U.S. News & World Report includes it on its Best National Universities and Top Performers on Social Mobility lists. The College is ranked on Money magazine’s “Best Colleges for your Money” list, Princeton Review’s 2020 list of Best Midwestern Colleges, and Forbes’ Top Colleges list. The Center for First-Generation Student Success has named St. Scholastica one of the top 80 colleges in the country for commitment to first-generation students. Learn more at

Sue Kurth, Asst. Director James Hoppe, and Kirsten Walker, Director, celebrate the program's 50th year anniversary with Denfeld students.
Sue Kurth, Assistant Director James Hoppe, and Director Kristen Walker celebrate the program’s 50th year anniversary with Denfeld students.