With a new school and AmeriCorps service year underway, we want to highlight the importance of service and community. Through a series of three stories, we are recognizing College Possible Minnesota student alumni who have dedicated their time to service, through a variety of forms. Having participated in both College Possible high school and college success programming, these former students are now active participants in their communities.
Tenzin Nordon chose to give back to her community through two terms of service with College Possible as an AmeriCorps coach. After graduating from Carleton College in 2011, AmeriCorps service helped spark a professional passion for college access, which Tenzin continues to pursue in her work with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and her involvement with the College Possible Alumni Leadership Council.
Why I serve with College Possible
Some unfamiliar people came into my 10th grade class. They walked in wearing their green Admission Possible (now College Possible) t-shirts, pieces of paper in hand, and started talking to us about college. I hadn’t really thought about college seriously until that moment. I knew I wanted to go to college because that’s what my parents had wanted for me and my younger brother ever since we immigrated to this country in 1998. However, I didn’t know how to get to this destination that was so important to my parents who’d never attended college. My parents’ dream was to have us succeed in this country, and they were sure that college was the way to obtain that success. I immediately signed up because I wanted that for myself and my family.
While deliberating on what to do post-college graduation, I had a few options. I could work, or choose to serve with Peace Corps, or serve with College Possible. With the options in front of me, I was seriously considering both Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.
I decided to serve with AmeriCorps because I wanted to give back to the organization that had changed the trajectory of my life when I was in high school.
The people I met through College Possible, all of my coaches and the other students in the program, were the people in my academic community at Carleton College that kept me grounded and focused on graduation day and optimistic about my future. Their work meant so much to me, my family, and my community, that I felt it was my duty to go back and to give what I could to them in the capacity that I could.
Thus, I came back to serve as a coach at Columbia Heights High School from 2011-2013 and had the most rewarding time of my life. I met amazing students, worked with passionate coworkers and gained so much knowledge, knowledge that I would be able to stand on my two feet no matter where I went after that position.
All in all, I came to College Possible to give back, but again, ended up gaining something much more instead.
After finishing my terms of service, my connection with College Possible waned until I heard about the Alumni Leadership Council. I was already working extensively in my community and around the Twin-Cities area, but when I was asked to participate in the council, I couldn’t say no to the opportunity. It was working to help get all College Possible students connected again; something I deeply valued.
I believed in the work and wanted it to succeed, so I joined the council and have never looked back; again I ended up gaining more than what I came back to give.
I hope that anyone searching for a way back to College Possible, like me, finds an avenue to do so in the capacity they can and how they want; the Alumni Leadership Council is just one way to do so!
For more Student Alumni Service Stories: