Upon joining AmeriCorps to serve with College Possible, many coaches express their intention to utilize their service term as a valuable opportunity for self-reflection and career exploration. Over the past couple of months, we had insightful conversations with AmeriCorps alumni who recently served with College Possible and have since transitioned into roles within higher education.
Former college access coach Jerry Jones served with College Possible Omaha during the 2022-2023 academic year. Originally, Jerry had planned to go to law school to pursue a career in corporate law after completing his term of service. However, while serving, he discovered a passion for helping others and decided that his original plan was not going to fulfill that passion. Jerry shares, “College Possible created the pathway of higher education on the side of student success for me. Being able to see students succeed and helping them along the way had a monumental change on my philosophy as an individual.”
After completing his term of service, Jerry moved to Iowa to join Central College as an admissions representative. During his time there, Jerry met with prospective students and families to assist them in navigating the higher education landscape. He has recently transitioned into a new role at Indiana University Bloomington where he will be a retention and diversity specialist in the Hudson and Holland Scholars Program. In this new position, Jerry will work primarily with underrepresented students to ensure they have the resources they need to succeed.
Aubrey Rawles served two terms with College Possible Omaha as a college access coach during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 academic years. During COVID, Aubrey did some soul-searching and discovered that she wanted to pursue a career in higher education, which led her to join College Possible as a coach. Aubrey reflected on her own educational upbringing; she went to a private college prep school where almost everyone went to college directly after high school, and Aubrey had a fairly straightforward path to college.
Serving with College Possible was a great opportunity for Aubrey to see what the journey to college looked like from a different perspective. Aubrey’s time with College Possible gave her a broadened perspective on different populations’ journeys into higher education, which solidified her desire to someday work in higher education. Aubrey currently works at Creighton University in Omaha as an undergraduate admissions counselor, working with students to discuss their interests, concerns, and goals for their collegiate journeys. She said her service significantly contributed to her readiness for her current role.
Sabrina Buls served with College Possible Omaha as a college access coach during the 2022-2023 academic year. Sabrina was formerly a College Possible student before she joined the organization as a coach and is now working at Bellevue University as an undergraduate admissions counselor. In this role, she works with students that want to learn more about the university, the enrollment process, and assists them in figuring out how to pay for classes. Sabrina didn’t anticipate working in this field, but after serving with College Possible, a career in higher education made her feel right at home.
One of the most rewarding aspects of Sabrina’s service was the meaningful connections she forged with students as a coach. Reflecting on this, she expressed, “Establishing and maintaining those connections meant a lot to me.” Sabrina continues to stay connected with some of the students she coached, cheering them on even though her coaching role has concluded.
Stacey Rosener served as a college success coach and summer transition coach throughout her two years of service from fall 2021 to summer 2023. Stacey always knew that she wanted to work in higher education but didn’t know in what way. She originally came to College Possible thinking that she wanted to work in residence life, however, that plan changed after working with students on enrollment tasks to help them navigate the next steps in their collegiate and career paths.
Stacey is now a graduate enrollment specialist at University of Nebraska Omaha where she supports students who are applying to various graduate programs at UNO. Stacey does a lot of outreach in her current role—something she also did a lot of during her service with College Possible. Stacey shared that her service experience with College Possible helped to prepare her for her current position. “I felt that I was able to step into my role and understand collegiate and technical systems and how to communicate with students in a way that’s clear and concise.”
Michaela Martin served as a senior access coach during the 2021-2022 academic year. Like Jerry, Michaela didn’t know that she wanted to pursue a career in higher education until she had completed her term of service with College Possible. Michaela found a passion while working with students, which led her to her current position as a student support services concierge. In this role, Michaela connects students with advisors and resources on and off campus and assists in registering for classes. Similar to her previous role as a senior coach, Michaela connects students with the resources they need to succeed throughout their educational journeys.
Serving as a College Possible coach develops sought-after skills for careers in higher education
Service with College Possible offers valuable skills for individuals aspiring to pursue a career in higher education, as affirmed by AmeriCorps alumni currently thriving in this field. Many alumni acknowledged that their time with College Possible played a crucial role in shaping their present roles. While some initially had no plans for a career in higher education, the experience of serving and supporting students on their academic journeys sparked a newfound interest in this path.
A consistent theme highlighted by every coach was the skill of meeting students where they’re at, a core principle at College Possible. This involves prioritizing active listening to understand students’ goals, gauging the stage they’re at in their collegiate journeys, and considering their individual interests and potential career paths.
The preparation gained during service extends to various aspects, such as acquiring language proficiency in financial aid, navigating the complexities of the FAFSA, building meaningful relationships with students, and recognizing the diverse needs of each individual.
One essential skill that resonates across experiences is resourcefulness. Michaela notes, “A lot of my service with College Possible was about connecting students with resources, and that’s very similar to what I’m doing now. Knowing how to find those resources and understanding the unique needs of students has been helpful in my current role.”
Interested in a year of service with College Possible? Visit americorps.collegepossible.org to learn more about serving with College Possible.