This great story was written by Marguerite Devine-Mraz, an AmeriCorps member serving with College Possible Washington. Great stories like this one are written by AmeriCorps members and read weekly at team meetings as a way for our team to reflect, share learnings and stay connected to the students and coaches who have come before us and will come after us.
I had just finished working with two students and both had successfully submitted a college application. As they were packing up their things, they began chatting with each other about how thankful they were for College Possible and that they were able to have help with their applications. They then turned to me, both saying they didn’t know what they would have done without me. This struck me and I quickly reassured them that I was always here and happy to help them with anything they needed. Then I congratulated the two of them on submitting their first college applications. They smiled, said goodbye, and left.
A week later, another student was finally able to file a FAFSA request after navigating multiple difficulties throughout the process. We had been working on it together for a few days and I was relieved that it had gone fairly smoothly at the end. This student then shared their thanks and also said they did not know what they would have done without me. I said the same thing I had told the other students the week prior and congratulated them on filing their FAFSA. Again, the student smiled, said goodbye, and left.
These moments stuck with me and got me thinking: most students say “Thank you” when they leave. It is usually thrown over their shoulder as they are on their way out and seems like a habit. But maybe it isn’t. Or maybe it is but that doesn’t mean they are not actually thankful. I started thinking about what position they might be in if they did not have College Possible or if I were not their coach. Would they have figured it out on their own? Would they have found help elsewhere? Or would they have not even begun the process?
The importance of the work I was doing with these students was starting to be something I could actually see. I could see how the program was aiding them. Not only were they getting help with, and learning about, a process they knew nothing about, but they were also learning and growing in their own right. At the beginning of the year, most were quiet and never asked for help. Now, just several months later, they ask if they have a question, and I don’t have to keep prying to get them to explain what they do not understand. This growth is exciting to see, and while it’s not exactly unexpected, it still amazes me.