Kimmy Kistan
Kimmy Kistan is a recipient of the LeadMN McCormick Leadership Scholarship

Kimmy Kistan always dreamt of coming to the United States to pursue a college education. As she neared the end of her secondary schooling, she determined nothing would stop her from achieving that dream. No one in her family had ever attended college due to the lack of opportunities and being unable to afford it, but she didn’t let that deter her. She first came to the United States as an au pair, which allowed her to get a two-year visa and live with a family in the U.S. When her visa expired she returned to South Africa and the COVID-19 pandemic quickly shut down hopes of coming back to the U.S. swiftly. Not to mention, the extraordinary burden of proving sufficient income to be accepted as an international student.

Fortunately, a family who knew Kimmy while she had been working in the U.S. offered to sponsor her to come back to the U.S. and go to college. She began researching colleges and ultimately decided to apply to Saint Paul College. In 2021, she began her business degree and is currently the Student Senate Vice President, where she enjoys helping students and connecting them with opportunities. She is grateful to the family that sponsored her, but even with their support, affording college has been challenging and she works on campus to get by.

Kimmy Kistan and Secretary of State Steve Simon
Kimmy Kistan walks and talks with Secretary of State Steve Simon during his National Voter Registration Day visit at Saint Paul College.

One challenge for international students is finding funding to continue their education, as many scholarships and grants are only available to U.S. citizens. They also face barriers in finding employment, as F1 student visas prohibit students from working off-campus in their first year in the U.S. This combination of factors makes it incredibly difficult for most international students to afford college in the U.S. 

Kimmy is a recipient of the McCormick Leadership Scholarship and continues to be involved on campus at Saint Paul College, as well as Student Senate and volunteering. In the future, she hopes to transfer to St.Thomas University to study business, and eventually go on to pursue a graduate degree in law or medicine. Congratulations on your achievements, Kimmy!