Kailey Corder is in her first year of service with College Possible as a college success coach on the University of Minnesota campus. A 2022 graduate of University of St. Thomas with majors in Psychology and Justice & Peace Studies and minors in Family Studies and Interfaith Leadership, she is passionate about engaging in community-orientated collaboration, especially when nature and creativity are involved.
Being involved in Kailey’s university admissions department during her undergrad, College Possible came up frequently. Whether by a campus visit with College Possible or while talking with admissions counselors about their college journey, she remembers that every sentiment expressed about the organization was positive. Yet during her undergraduate program, with majors in Psychology and Justice & Peace Studies, her goals were focused on following the common trajectory of going straight to graduate school for counseling. It wasn’t until some serious soul-searching that she realized she longed to take the road less traveled. She wanted an opportunity to gain deeper experience working with others, while finding her real passion.
It took one look at College Possible’s website and a few more conversations with admissions counselors to convince Kailey that serving with College Possible as an AmeriCorps coach was the perfect option. She was impressed with the way people seemed to have learned so much about others and themselves during their term of service with College Possible, along with the many ways it opened connections in other fields, due to College Possible’s extensive network. Working with other like-minded individuals with similar passions of advancing education equity was just the cherry on top.
“I feel very honored to have walked through this past semester with the students I serve” Kailey said. “Through each conversation, text message, success, and hurdle, I’ve been able to grow so much.” Finding her outreach stride didn’t come easy, as seamless communication takes work when you’re interacting with busy college students! Yet soon enough, Kailey figured out what worked best for both the students and herself to optimize responses and the opportunity to connect. Now, after dozens of calls and chats, Kailey’s confidence is leaps and bounds beyond what she ever imagined: “I feel equipped to support students through most situations because I have the tools and support around me. Between the conversation guides, resourceful coworkers, intelligent managers and supervisors, and more, these supports greatly contribute to me being able to show up confidently for students,” Kailey shared. “Because of this, I feel more called to enter into my next pursuit of becoming a school counselor. A passion for striving for equity in education continues to burn in me, as I see how transformative our work is.”
While noticing the changes within herself have been incredible, Kailey’s favorite part of all has been watching the growth within the students she serves. She has so many stories of success to share, and decided to highlight this one:
Kailey connected with an eager freshman in early September. This student was quick to reach out and, truthfully, in their first one-on-one conversation, everything seemed to be going well for her. With excitement for her classes apparent and a realistic but optimistic outlook on making friends, Kailey was looking forward to talking with her again and hearing more about her successes. However, when they talked again in early October, the student painted a much different picture of her experience. Kailey was grateful that the student was willing to share with her that things weren’t actually going so well, socially, mentally, and academically, and she knew that together they could brainstorm some plans to steer out of the tough patch. They agreed on a strategy where the student would do one brave thing a week to turn her college experience around, and Kailey was delighted when she followed up with the student a few days later as she had so many wins to report back.
Kailey could tell the little acts of bravery the student was doing, like trying to eat by herself in the cafeteria, were trickling into her academics and helping her do better in classes too. Their following conversations over the rest of the semester continued to include moments of vulnerability where the student shared wins and hardships, and Kailey remained proud of the student’s willingness to reach out for the support she needed to find success. Kailey is looking forward to seeing the ways this student is able to grow next semester, along with the ways she pushes Kailey to be a better coach.
When thinking about the value College Possible adds to the Twin Cities, greater Minnesota, and throughout the country, Kailey immediately thinks about the network of connections the organization fosters to create a powerful community. This community – composed of the students in College Possible programs, the AmeriCorps members like Kailey, the staff on the leadership teams, and College Possible supporters – unite to work together in a way that can’t be summarized in data or talking points, because the impact reverberates beyond such measures. This impact can be better explained by the numerous conversations taking place every day to address the inequities students face in their higher education journeys.
“I think of all the conversations I’ve had with students and how I’ve been able to directly witness the negative ways these barriers within the higher education systems impact them,” said Kailey. “Simultaneously, I’ve seen the change happen when students can successfully navigate their way through challenges when they can tap into resources or words of encouragement, thanks to programs like College Possible. The direct impact on a student’s confidence and ability to succeed in college is why College Possible remains an important resource in the world of higher education.”
Are you or someone you know looking to make a difference in students’ lives? Register for an information session today to learn more about a year of service with College Possible!