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From student to coach: Yanderi’s college access empowerment journey

Yanderi Cropped

AmeriCorps access coach Yanderi Martinez is a testament to the power of near-peer coaching. Motivated by her own experiences through the College Possible Wisconsin program during her academic journey, Yanderi’s path from college to career has been defined by a stalwart dedication to empowering students from similar backgrounds to achieve their dreams.

“Being in the College Possible program from high school through college, I knew I could help students the same way my coaches did,” said Yanderi. “I really appreciated CP for helping me and I wanted to give back. I believe that everyone should have access to the resources needed to attend college.”

Throughout her high school experience, Yanderi found support from her own coach, who encouraged her dreams of going to college. Despite initial worry stemming from her family’s financial situation, Yanderi was determined to achieve her academic goals, graduating with a degree in sociology from UW-Milwaukee in 2022. 

“My parents were born in Puerto Rico but came to Milwaukee for opportunities they couldn’t have in Puerto Rico,” said Yanderi. “When it came to going to college, I was afraid that due to my background and financial circumstances, I wouldn’t be able to attend. But with College Possible, they made me see that I could persist and I became the first in my family to do so!”

Yanderi’s experience with College Possible fueled her passion for empowering others on their path to higher education: she joined the organization as a high school junior coach immediately after college graduation. Drawing from her own experiences, Yanderi is committed to forming meaningful connections with students, understanding the importance of not just academic guidance but also emotional encouragement.

“I knew I wanted to work with College Possible because I saw firsthand the benefits of what College Possible had to offer,” said Yanderi. “I also wanted to give back to the program that helped me. Students with similar backgrounds to me need help and I wanted to be there for them, like my coach was for me. The bonds and connections I have made with these students are incredible. I cherish them so much.”

Inspired by the experiences she’s had during her two AmeriCorps service terms, Yanderi will soon be working towards becoming a guidance counselor. With plans to pursue a master’s degree in counseling, she strives to continue empowering students on their academic journeys.

“College Possible showed me that I have a passion for assisting students with their education,” said Yanderi. “The skills I have learned at College Possible will help me be a better guidance counselor for future students.”

For Yanderi, her priority will always be students. Conducting her service terms with a deep sense of purpose, she is committed to seeing her students thrive. “I am grateful I have been a part of  students’ academic journeys. I want them to know they can achieve anything they put their minds to,” said Yanderi. “I enjoy witnessing students get accepted into their dream colleges and graduating high school. I hope they all have successful and beautiful futures.”

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