By Marthe Passoli
Senior High School Coach at Millard South High School
Rosy is one of my students who I am grateful is in my cohort. She is a ball of energy! I remember the first week when I started calling my students to introduce myself to them as their new coach, for some reason, Rosy’s phone number was not going through. The following day I received an email from the school counselor to let me know that I’d be getting an email from a student. Sure enough, about five minutes later Rosy’s email came through! This was what she wrote:
“Hi, my name is Rosy. I am involved in College Possible and I got the email from my counselor. I am so excited to work with you this year. Currently, I am studying the ACT prep and I was wondering when you are available to do more college prep with me? And when can we start talking about applying for college and scholarships? Please call me.”
I hope by her words it gives a clue of the kind of person or student she may be. As for me this email, it gave me joy and excitement that this service year will go well.
Supporting Rosy for the past six months, she has shown me that she is ready do everything to be successful in her college education. She pushes herself to submit college and scholarship applications weeks before the due date. On multiple occasions I have had to encourage Rosy to not over stress and take some time off, because I know she is prone to do that. So far, all is well with her in terms of College Applications, FAFSA and Scholarships. She also has begun receiving her financial aid packages from different universities she has been applying to. She has stopped applying to colleges, but she is still looking and applying for scholarships. Rosy is really a student that leads by example and I hope all her hard work and dedication pays off.
Service Could Be For Everyone
By Meg McAuliffe
In the first couple of months of my service, I was floored with the progress I was making so quickly. I had learned so much just from the trainings about how college access is not a given and how integral my part was in making sure my students persisted and thrived in their respective schools. I was balancing cold calling for the first time, heavy data entry, and my integration back into work that I was passionate about.
One day, when I was talking about all the nuances of my role with my friend she mentioned she was looking for a job. I thought to myself, what luck! College Possible was still hiring for a few more College Coaches. I figured since I loved my position so much I could share the love and encourage her to apply. I told her about the position and the amazing students I was just starting to get to know as they shared their stories with me. My friend cut me off, and relayed that she “could never do something like that.” I was taken aback and couldn’t even think of how to ask her why not. What was so difficult about supporting underserved students and helping them navigate college? Couldn’t anyone do this kind of work?
Her comments made me take a step back and examine what drew me to and kept me in this field of service. I think the quality of empathy for students’ situations is so important to the service that I do every day. Each student has a story as well as tests and triumphs that has gotten them to where they are now. Learning about the stories of my students has only inspired me more to figure out ways to support them in their college journeys.
This work reminds me not only of what I can offer students in terms of guidance, but also what I get out of helping students, which is a feeling of purpose. My conversation with my friend showed me that not everyone has the passion for college access that myself and my peers do. However, it also reminded me just how important the work that I am doing is. Being a college coach feels like it’s a role that was made specifically for me and my skills. I truly value the service that I provide for my students and I like to think that there’s more people out there that could find the passion to serve in them, too.
By Yael Estrada-Nava
Junior High School Coach at Bellevue East and Omaha South High Schools
One of the reasons I was passionate about working with Omaha South specifically is that I know, from what I can draw from my time in high school, is that the majority of those students come from a low-income background, and have family from outside of the United States.
During my first few months, I began working with both Omaha South and Bellevue East, I have found myself relating to the students with a similar background to mine. Just being able to relate to a student with language and our experience of growing up with immigrant parents, is such an incredible feeling. In particular, one of my newly accepted students told me about his journey and how that brought him to College Possible, I found out that his mother is from the same region of Mexico that my family is from! I jokingly said that we were likely related, which might turn out to be true! I never imagined myself talking about my parent’s hometown to one of my students but the way I was able to connect immediately with this student makes me value my job even more and makes it feel like I am impacting this student even a little bit. Not only will I talk with him about learning about college, I am now a figure in his life, an adult with a similar background he can look up to.
As I continue to develop my relationships with my students I find that I see myself in them a lot. When I ask about their motivations for going to college, the most common answer is that they want to give back to their families, and give back to their communities. Hearing this answer inspires me to continue to work hard to make that happen with my lesson plans and during my sessions. While working this job is challenging, especially when students do not communicate effectively, I take it as a learning experience and ask myself in what ways can I continue to support them.