APP alumni reunite

Friday, August 3, 2012

Participants in the 25th anniversary celebration of the Advanced Preparation Program

Participants in the 25th anniversary celebration of the Advanced Preparation Program, a centerpiece of the University's drive to create a more diverse and inclusive campus.

More than 60 of the 600-plus alumni of St. Cloud State’s Advanced Preparation Program gathered at their alma mater for the 25th anniversary reunion of the award-winning Multicultural Student Services program that helps incoming first-year students -- many of them students of color -- make a smoother transition to college life.

Alumni returned to share memories and renew friendships with fellow APP participants from as far back as the first class in 1988. They mingled with members of the current APP class of 49 incoming St. Cloud State students and learned how much they had in common, beginning with their most memorable experience -- "The Camping Trip" that was a first for many.

 "APP gave me a better understanding of my own identity," said Bernadette Wilson, currently director of the Intercultural Center and Student Human Rights Office at the College of Saint Benedict and a member of that first class. "It helped me become the person I am now," said Wilson, who went on to become associate vice president for Student Life and Development at St. Cloud State. "APP helped me build confidence, accept who I was and work with other people."

2012 APP class member Brianna Walker, an incoming freshman from Oahu, Hawaii, said her three-week experience taking classes, getting familiar with the campus and launching lifetime friendships has taught her what college can do for her. "I’ve always been a reserved person," she said. "College is about growing – realizing that making a change is being the change."

"It’s amazing how much of a difference three weeks can make in the transition from high school to university mindset," said Multicultural Student Services Director Shahzad Ahmad of the program. "It just happens."

Now that 2012 class member Darryl Howard has finished his three-week APP experience, he has a special new bond with his mother, 1995 APP class member Stephanie Kelley, who attended the reunion from Tampa, Fla. Also among the 600 alumni are many sibling groups and others with family ties.

Saengmany Ratsabout and his wife Gau Lee have APP to thank for their life as a couple. They met as members of the class of 2000 and eventually married. They brought their son and daughter to the reunion. Another couple, Bia (Thor) Xiong and Dam Xiong, now from Blaine, also married as a result of their shared experience as part of the 2004 APP class.

APP was started in 1988 by the late Robert Broadus. "The foundation has remained the same," said Ahmad. "It works."

For more information, contact Shahzad Ahmad, 320-308-5151 at or

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