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Great Story: Newborns and Jazz Horns

I’m very often amazed by how well my students have handled some of life’s most unexpected situations. During our guided conversations, I like to check in with my students to make sure they’ve not only completed their milestones but also that they’re doing well personally. Each student’s response is different, but the most significant barriers some of my students have faced comes from the personal things going on in their life.

For example, one of my students recently completed her first year of college with mostly A’s in the spring semester, despite having just given birth in March. When I had my guided conversation with her, she said she was exhausted. Becoming a parent is one of the most challenging things to manage (at least so I’ve been told). Yet I’m amazed at how she is still determined to continue studying at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her college journey has had its ups and downs, but she wants to finish her program in pre-nursing. The good grades she’s earned in her first year of college have demonstrated how capable she is of being an excellent student in college and a mother able to take care of her child.

As this student balances school with motherhood, it’s reassuring to know she has resources available to help her at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a supportive family to help her at home. To see anybody balance parenthood and higher education is incredible, but to see a first-generation college student complete their first year of college with a high GPA is equally uplifting.

Often after a day of service with College Possible, I find the only frustrating thing about my day is the drive home. One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed my term of service with College Possible is that I’ve never felt completely drained as a college coach. The college team has been incredibly supportive since I began in September and being able to work independently but still toward a common goal is what leaves me smiling at the end of the day. It’s also encouraging to have supervisors who will check in to make sure I’m not feeling too overwhelmed or drained during the school semester. While I often have students messaging me in the evenings or on weekends, it’s nice to know I can still dedicate time to myself and my creative projects.

However, while I enjoy my daily routine during service, I still reflect on the 10-year anniversary event that College Possible celebrated this year. As it was undoubtedly the most important day outside of our service to students, there was a lot of preparation for this big event. We received instructions on our duties and what to expect, making sure everything went smoothly. My role was to ensure the jazz band we had hired to play at the event was in the designated spot and was taken care of. While I accidentally guided them to the wrong destination at first, I quickly got them relocated and made sure they were still as well accommodated as possible during the performance. I like to reflect on that because I realized I had made a mistake and resolved it. Quickly fixing something, especially when many different things were happening at once, made the entire event a learning opportunity for me.

This story was written by Emilio Piña, an AmeriCorps member for College Possible Omaha.

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