I have enjoyed every minute I have had at Happy Valley High School working as a NiswongerCARE Advisor. One of my best experiences thus far is with a specific student who is a first generation college student with big dreams. I have been able to meet with him once a week to prepare him for the college application process. By seeing his determination and resilience in preparing for applying to University of Tennessee Knoxville and creating a path to continue his education at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine I am inspired to work just as hard as him to prepare other students for post-secondary options. Seeing the light in the student’s eyes when they realize that college is a possibility and not just a fairytale is something that I hold on to each and every day I walk through the doors to work. I cannot wait to see where the rest of the year takes my students and all of the wonderful things they will accomplish!
I have had a wonderful school year working as a NiswongerCARE advisor. I have had an opportunity to work with one of the Niswonger Scholar nominees at one of the schools I serve. It has been a rewarding and humbling experience to work with a student who has so much passion and empathy towards those around her. This has been one of the highlights of my year so far. I have been able to learn about this student's plans, hopes and dreams. I got to know her interests and talents through our mock interviews and meetings. I think one of the biggest blessings of this job is being able to get know and help those students who will one day change the world.
I went into this job very nervous…nervous about doing a job well and nervous about whether or not I could truly make a difference and help students with their post-secondary transition. The first student I helped was a confused and overwhelmed senior who was struggling with organizing everything that had to be done and felt very overwhelmed. I helped her by showing her some websites with resources about the college going process and organizing the process into manageable steps. I also encouraged her by sharing my experiences as a first generation college student how overwhelming that can be. I learned through helping her that it only takes slowing down your day enough to listen to others, to know what their needs are, and being willing to help them through that process and how that can have such a great impact. You may not know the answers to all of their questions, but you can sit down with them and help them navigate websites and verbalize how stressed they are feeling so that they know there is someone there to care for them. She left my office smiling and that left me smiling, too. It only takes a willing heart and open ears to truly make a difference.
This year, I have had the opportunity to work with hardworking open minded students. One student in particular comes to mind. This student has aspirations to become a diesel mechanic through Universal Technical Institute in Arizona. Together we were able to research his financial options and application timeline. The student was also open to keeping his options open and applying to a TCAT in Tennessee. Working with this students like this case makes me appreciate the chance to provide options and hope for students of all backgrounds.
Change is hard. Life after college is confusing. What job will I have? Will it fit what I did in college? Where will I live? Who will I be close to? What am I doing with my life?! The last months of college were the most stress-filled I have ever experienced. I had never written a resume or interviewed for a professional position; expectations were higher and the stakes were raised. I had no idea what I was doing. I knew I was capable and that I would be ok, but I had no idea how to get there. My personal expectations were the scariest – I knew I had potential to do something meaningful, and I knew not accomplishing that would be crushing. I would not have navigated this time in my life successfully if not for the people who invested in my future with me, shared my goals, and guided me in realizing them. Now, I have the opportunity every day to share my experience and invest in others with the unique perspective of having just gone through that time myself, because I know. Change is hard. Life after high school is confusing. How can I help?