February 01, 2021

Century College alum Carla Coates’ life is a testament to the power of persistence.  She has endured many hardships, including homelessness, domestic violence, abuse, and illness, and has overcome each and every challenge on her path.  While living in St. Paul, she decided to apply to Century College, where she felt at home immediately. 

Supportive Faculty

Carla originally started in the Nursing program, but it wasn’t quite the right fit.  After meeting with (former) Century College counselor Frank Schultz, she switched to Human Services. “He asked me the right questions about my goals and career direction.  He empowered me and encouraged me to not give up,” Carla remembers. “Century College has been my backbone.”

She also met with Century College counselor Michele Jersak, whom Carla found to be compassionate and resourceful, and with whom she also shared her hardships.  At the time, she was dealing with an abusive relationship.  Michele helped her connect with community resources, and once again, Carla persisted and didn’t give up.  She was determined to be an inspiring role model for her four children.  “You have to keep going,” Carla notes.  

Giving Back

While she was a student, Carla worked in the Resource and Support Center at the College, which she thoroughly enjoyed. “It was a wonderful experience.  I met with students and was an active listener.  I was happy to have an impact on them.  Also, I wanted to give back while I was there,” Carla says, “I was in awe at how much people really do care at Century College.” 

Michele Jersak agrees and adds, “Carla was an amazing Human Services intern. She cared so much about being helpful to others, was compassionate, patient and loved learning.”

In Fall 2018, her hard work at the College paid off, and she graduated with an Associate in Science degree in Human Services.  

Graduating Summa Cum Laude

Following her graduation from Century College, Carla took a break before transferring to Metro State University, and majoring in Human Services.  She recently graduated Summa Cum Laude.  “I didn’t give up,” Carla says. “I’m passionate about education.”  

She currently works for TKDA, a St. Paul architectural firm.  “I feel so awesome about my choice to attend Century College,” Carla adds, “I made the deliberate choice to pursue a higher education and it was empowering.  Education is very important.  It’s the key to life, and it opens many doors for us.”

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