CATALYST: A Coaching Resource for First-Generation Graduate Students

Are you a First-Generation graduate student in SOLES, Kroc School of Peace Studies, or Knauss School of Business? Do you feel like you could benefit from additional support to reach your fullest potential as a student and leader? The CATALYST First-Gen Coaching Initiative is a resource created to support First-Generation graduate students by helping identify and address their unique goals and challenges. Coaching sessions focus on goal-setting around personal, academic, and professional development, as well as what may be getting in the way of achieving these goals and what additional support is needed. For more information on CATALYST, including the link to apply and more on what coaching is and isn’t, please see below.


Who is eligible to receive coaching through CATALYST?
Any graduate student in SOLES, Kroc School of Peace Studies, or Knauss School of Business who self-identifies as a first-generation student is eligible to apply for coaching. As there are a limited number of spaces available, not all applicants may be chosen to participate.

What will the format be?
CATALYST will run through the academic year, with applications accepted on a rolling basis. The length of the coaching arrangement and the total number of sessions to be offered will be agreed upon between the coach and client. Please note: Sessions may not extend beyond the academic year in which they begin. While scheduling will be determined between each coach and client, coaching sessions are generally scheduled twice a month for around 45-60 minutes per session.

Who will be conducting coaching sessions?
All coaches have a certificate in Leadership Coaching from USD. The Leadership Coaching Certificate Program is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and is also a Board Certified Coach (BCC) approved coach training program.

What does it cost to participate?
There is no fee associated with coaching sessions offered through CATALYST. (CATALYST is currently supported through a grant with USD’s Nonprofit Institute.)

What is coaching?
The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” (

What is the difference between coaching and therapy?
While therapy primarily looks at and examines past experiences, coaching stays more focused on the present and future, incorporating the past only as a means to consider trends and patterns of behavior that may be getting in the way of you moving toward your goals.

In addition, a coach cannot provide diagnosis or treatment plans. Instead, the goal of coaching is to provide a co-creative partnership that challenges you to assess your own roadblocks and choose the best path forward.

What is the difference between coaching and mentoring?
The approach for mentoring is often to provide information, insight, or expertise on how to approach or fix a particular issue. Coaching, on the other hand, helps you identify and address your own challenges, while offering observations, thoughtful questioning, and accountability.


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