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Gwen’s genuine impact: An access coach finds inspiration in serving students

Headshot Photo Of Gwen Wearing Blue College Possible T-shirt With A Green Background Behind Her.

To say I’m proud to serve students would be an understatement. Watching students who dreamed of a college degree, but faced numerous barriers, now applying for scholarships, gives new life to my soul. Seeing students make plans for campus life is a humbling experience.

Community has always been an important concept for me. The sense of community with students and fellow AmeriCorps coaches I feel is indescribable. Providing students with the tools they need to make a better life for themselves will always serve a community well.

My ‘aha’ moment was when a student disclosed how her experience being a foster child influenced her longing to be an advocate for children in the foster-care system. She shared that a college education was the only way that she would be able to positively impact the lives of foster children. Although her experience in foster care was not a positive one, she is using that experience as fuel to ensure that other children have a better experience than she and her siblings did. She’s an honor student making strides to be an attorney, so that she can facilitate legislation that protects foster children.

I knew that I had made the right decision to become an access coach when I saw the excitement in this student’s voice, as she shared her story, and accentuated the positives, and how her experience strengthened her resolve in furthering her education.

Before becoming an access coach, I was a licensed broker and the excitement in a client’s voice was always related to how much money I made for them with a monetary investment, not an investment in society. It always seemed so one-sided to help those of means gain more, while those from underserved communities experienced little to no growth. I want to see that change and encourage equality. I want to be an agent for change in this way, and that is why being an access coach is such a great opportunity for me.

In the past, the disparities between social classes have been frustrating for me. Watching new legislation that increases the barriers to college graduation for students who need extra help, has put a fire in my soul to be a part of the solution. College Possible Omaha has given me that opportunity.

College Possible has taught me that given the opportunity and the wraparound services that are needed, students can be successful getting into and completing college. I see the vision of College Possible coming to fruition every day with the students I serve.

This story was written by Gwen Knave, College Possible AmeriCorps coach at College Possible Omaha.

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