One of the most rewarding parts of being a NiswongerCARE Advisor is getting to know the students I work with. As I meet with them and discover what goals they have for the future, I want to do everything in my power to help them succeed! I always share my personal college experience with my students. From trying to discover where to go to college, planning what I want to major in, and then finally realizing this is something I am achieving on my own. It was a stressful, but rewarding time in my life. Some students know exactly where they will go and what they will do, but for others it may be a process to get there. I love sitting down with those students and creating a plan to help them reach their goals!
I LOVE grocery shopping. The possibilities within the aisles are endless. I can spend hours in a grocery store imagining new fun things to try or that I might like. I stroll the aisles, check out, unpack my groceries, only to realize I have nothing to eat!
It’s easy for me to get distracted by the possibilities and options that I completely miss the options that will end in something I can make an actual meal out of.
“Giuli, what does grocery shopping have to do with post-secondary plans?” I’m so glad you asked!
Planning for life after high school can look a lot like my average grocery trip: misguided and unproductive. Students have a TON of options in front of them. It’s easy for a student to get distracted by all the possibilities and miss the one that works best for them. Whenever there are decisions to be made, it helps to have someone there to keep you on task and guide you along the way. That’s where I come in.
My job as a NiswongerCARE advisor allows me the opportunity to walk alongside some AMAZING students. I help them realize what plans work best for them, and then help them stay on task to achieve it. Any time you must tackle something new, it can be intimidating. However, with a helping hand and a “one step at a time” approach, it can…will… come to fruition.
What I’m really trying to say is I have the best job ever. I wake up, go to work, and watch students pursue their purpose. Now if anyone can teach me to stay on task in the grocery store, it would be much appreciated.
Sometimes the most challenging, stressful days of being a NiswongerCARE Advisor also serve as being the most rewarding. The moments where I am most overwhelmed allow me stop and reflect on the amount of support I am providing to the students in each of the schools I serve. My greatest contribution as a Care Advisor has been assisting parents and students in completing the FAFSA, required to complete if the student plans to attend post-secondary and potentially receive financial aid. While this application is time consuming and confusing for first-generation students, it is even more stressful on those parents. Being the person that provides a magnitude of post-secondary support to these families is what encourages me to continually work hard and strive for higher college-going statistics in my schools. It is also humbling to be able to experience these life-changing milestones with the students alongside them and help them achieve a level of autonomy. Each day brings a new discovery, as I am always excited to see what tomorrow is going to hold.
“All our dreams can come true, if you have the courage to pursue them”
- Walt Disney
I’ve had this quote up in my office at Cherokee High School since I began this position with NiswongerCARE. I didn’t realize when I wrote the quote how much courage some of these students truly have. Most of the students I work with face more hardships in their seventeen/ eighteen years of life than we could ever imagine. But their difficulties don’t stop them. In fact, I think it inspires most of them to create a better tomorrow. I am humbled and blessed to be apart of that journey and help pave the way toward their dreams.
During my time as a NiswongerCARE advisor, I’ve grown a passion for helping rural; East Tennessee students pursue their dreams and create a better life for themselves and their families. My hope is that I at plant a seed in the lives of each student and create a college-going culture in the schools I am fortunate enough to work with. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with the amazing ladies and gentleman, our directors, and the counselors at Cherokee High School, North Greene High School, and West Greene High School.
When people ask, “So, what do you do?”
Well, let me tell you…
Sure, we help students apply to college…and when I say students, I mean a caseload of hundreds at multiple schools. Need a letter of recommendation? Got it. Scholarship assistance? We do that. We can register a student for the ACT with our eyes closed and we have assisted with the filing of FAFSAs that account for hundreds of thousands of dollars in student aid.
But most importantly…
We care for these students as if they were our own younger brothers and sisters. We aggravate them like a mother would, because we see the potential they have yet to discover. While we only hope to change their lives, they inevitably change ours. Each day is a new adventure and while they aren’t always easy – they are so worth it.
My college-going experience was completely different from what is offered at Tennessee High School. I didn’t have anyone there to help me and support me along the way. The counselors at Tennessee High are wonderful at creating a college-going culture in their school, and I have loved getting to work alongside them. My favorite part of college and career counseling is working with a student who doesn’t think they can get into their reach school and seeing the smile on their face when they walk into your office to show you their acceptance letter to that school. It makes all of the hard work you put in well worth it!