This great story is by Madeleine Busby, an 2019-20 AmeriCorps college coach at College Possible Oregon.
As a college coach serving during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can sometimes feel like I’m shouting into the void: the innumerable calls, texts and emails that go unanswered, the exhaustively planned virtual sessions that go unattended, the resources — meticulously catalogued and vetted — that may or may not go unutilized. The silence is at worst disheartening and at best overwhelming, yet it is also what makes the rare response and moment of connection so meaningful. Even a brief glimpse into the life and mind of a student can bring a whole new sense of purpose and meaning to my work.
I want to share the impact that College Possible has made in the life of one of my students, in the student’s own words. So often we do not have the opportunity to learn about the effects of our work or the work of those that came before us. Lizbeth, a senior at Portland State University, was gracious enough to share her story with me, and agreed to let me share her story with all of you:
I was born in Baja California, Mexico, but most of my childhood took place in Rockwood, Oregon. I’ve loved all my College Possible coaches, they’ve impacted my life immensely, so just know I already love you for all your time and dedication that goes into this position! I graduated high school with a sour taste, I lost my kind-hearted grandpa in 2015, I was denied FAFSA and so many opportunities for scholarships because I was (and still am) not a US citizen, all my friends went to universities while I went to PCC. Reflecting on my life decisions, I now understand things happen for a reason that may not be clear at the moment. I’m glad I went to PCC, because it gave me the freedom to find my passion. I found a Psych professor I loved and took all her courses because she delivered the content so smoothly. However, after building a relationship with her, she encouraged me to check out a Soc class, and that’s where I found my calling. After getting an associate’s degree, I took a year off and became an after school coordinator at Reynolds High School, to test the work environment I wanted to be in the future. The position did not disappoint. I want to be a high school guidance counselor in the near future!
2019-2020 was my first year at PSU. I’ve always imagined myself living on campus, so despite home was only about 30 minutes away, I had enough savings to be able to afford to live on campus, so I lived my dream. It felt very nice to bring my parents on campus and see where I’d be staying. They were filled with joy while my brothers were amazed by the buffet options in the dining hall. Hey, if unlimited soda and ice cream is their motivation, I’m good with that as long as my brothers make their way to college someday as students. I have a brother who is a transfer student to the Reynolds School District (where I graduated from). He’s going to be a junior and the sole reason for the transfer is because RHS has the College Possible program and his previous school did not. Knowing someone is talking to my brother about ACT’s and college will bring me at ease, because I know he has a lot of potential to do great things.
Like Lizbeth and her brother, all of the students we serve have the potential to do great things; our job is to empower each of them in their unique journeys towards realizing their potential. I am so grateful to be a part of College Possible because of the opportunities I have to be even a small part of my students’ stories.