Ten years ago, Denzell remembers sitting in the auditorium with his fellow classmates at Benson High School learning about a new program called College Possible. He was actively involved with Partnership4Kids (P4K), a nonprofit that provides college-bound mentoring for Omaha’s youth, and was interested in learning more about programs that would support his college aspirations. Growing up, his mom and dad had always advised him to take advantage of new opportunities, especially anything related to his education.
With his parent’s encouragement, Denzell joined the College Possible program and started receiving support for applying to schools, completing the FAFSA and ACT test preparation. He said the assistance he received while completing the FAFSA was invaluable because the application is truly a complex process, but help from his College Possible coaches made it more feasible.
After graduating from high school in 2013, Denzell attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), where he earned his bachelor’s degree in music entrepreneurship. He found college to be a bit of a wake-up call and shared that he had to put in more time and effort than he did in high school.
My first two years were hard, but then I got the hang of it by the end of my sophomore year. I knew if I needed support, I could reach out to my College Possible coach.” he said.
When Denzell was wrapping up his college journey, his coach talked to him about serving as an AmeriCorps member with College Possible. At the time, he didn’t know what he wanted to do. So, he decided to become a college coach for two years to give back to the organization that had helped him by serving student scholars.
As an AmeriCorps coach, Denzell was placed at UNO and said that he felt comfortable stepping into the position because of his experience as a student. He enjoyed working with students in one-on-one meetings and building bonds with his fellow AmeriCorps service members and the UNO staff.
Everyone needs a cheerleader in their corner and as an AmeriCorps coach, I made sure to be that for each of the students I worked with,” he said.
After leaving College Possible, Denzell started a job with P4K as a high school coordinator and he said his job relates closely to his AmeriCorps service. He works with students in one-on-one meetings, does case management and teaches curriculum. His role is full of other tasks that make every day look different.
My time with College Possible really prepared me for this role with P4K. Working with students and leading sessions was a skill I picked up as an AmeriCorps service member,” he said.