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Omaha AmeriCorps Coaches Share Great Stories

Man, What a Wild Ride.

By Brandi Blunk
High School Junior Coach at Ralston High School
Third Year AmeriCorps Member

Man, what a ride. Nearly three whole years ago, I stepped foot into College Possible Omaha’s office for the first time. I didn’t have any expectations or prior knowledge; all I knew was that I was going to work with college students for at least one year… and that was pretty much it.

Now, nearly three years later, I stand with so many different lessons that College Possible has taught me. I don’t think I would have learned them in another place that served as my first professional experience out of college.

So, in honor of me FINALLY placing my College Possible gear in the closet, here are five life lessons that basically summarize my experience with College Possible.

Lesson #1: We are more resilient than we ever could imagine.

I’ve changed program coordinators midway through a service term, served just over 200 students at a time and served during a pandemic… what’s your superpower? We bent and adjusted and we made it work, just as this organization will continue to do once I’m done.

Lesson #2: Persistence pays off.

Numerous calls and numerous texts, programming being changed, approaches being implemented, weeks going by, and we finally get a response from a student who has been ignoring us. Now, we communicate weekly, and are working on a plan for success; name a better feeling (that’s right, you can’t).

Lesson #3: There is no ‘I’ in team.

Cliché, but true… coming from someone who has never been on a sports team, there really is no ‘I’ in team, and so many hands go into the effort and fight. All hands of deck.

Lesson #4: Connections matter.

You mention our name in an interview, and you just might meet someone who knows Arvin… or Katie… or, a past AmeriCorps member. And, you just might get the job. Or, get someone who comes into train us all on how to build a better resume. Or, even, help us secure a new grant. You truly never know who you will meet out there.

Lesson #5: Our work is never over.

As the youth say, ‘the grind never stops.’ We have come a long way, but still have a long way to go.

I hope that these five life lessons serve as a jumping point for not only myself, but several other people who are on their way into a bright future.

Life Choices; Self-Reflection

By Selena Leon
High School Senior Coach at Ralston High School
Third Year AmeriCorps Member

At 22 years old, I was ready to graduate from Morningside University with no idea what to do in this world. I have always known I wanted to give back to the community around me. Our career services person at Morningside encouraged my best friend and me to apply for College Possible.

I was hesitant at first because in my family the mindset was that you went to college to work and make a good amount of money, deeming college worth it. However, my best friend went in and signed up for an interview and I reluctantly followed her example. After interviewing with Carly and Bill, I got the call in December about coaching as a tech-connected college coach (TCC). I was nervous, yet excited. My family learned about the pay at College Possible and were less than thrilled. Nonetheless, my mother supported my decision to move to Omaha and embark on this new journey.

It was August 2018 when I started this journey. Being a TCC you connect with students from anywhere and everywhere and you primarily serve in the office. I was in the office every weekday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or sometimes even later. As October approached and other service members were talking about returning, I felt like this was not something I wanted to continue doing. I have an extroverted personality and not attaining human interaction was something I felt was missing.

It was not until about February 2019 that I made the switch from a college coach to a high school coach serving high school juniors. I felt my body wake up and became energized – there was the human interaction I long craved. It was March when I decided that I was coming back to stay with my students and learn more about teens and their life choices. I formed so many bonds with my students that I knew being their senior coach was the right move.

I did everything in my power to continue to form those relationships and solidify the bonds that I had created the year before. We shared laughs, memories and tears.

March 2020 put a hold on everything. I had planned with my students for their last months of school. The world was in absolute chaos. I had always joked about coming back for a third year if I could and it happened. I applied and was accepted to serve a third term with College Possible. My position remained the same and I was now serving the same students I had helped recruit into our program my first year. Everything fell into the perfect circle!

I cannot thank College Possible enough for allowing me to give back to a community I felt a part of growing up. I am a first-generation college graduate that came from a low–income background and I was able to help those in a similar predicament reach for the stars. I have fought the good fight and will continue to fight the good fight for years to come. Thank you College Possible for the best three years of my life.

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