This year, College Possible Portland’s 29 AmeriCorps members dedicated over 43,000 hours of service to our organization and students. We’re so thankful for their hard work and insight. Through their stories, we’re continually reminded of the importance of student support. High School Senior Coach Kate’s sentiments in her Great Story highlight the impact of our programming, not just for our students, but students throughout our partner high schools.
It’s All in the Family
In the midst of the organized chaos that defines College Possible session at the beginning of senior year, I noticed Elizabeth’s half-raised hand. Pausing by her desk, I patiently waited as she asked me a question about ACT fee waivers. Confused by the context and timing of the question, I reminded Elizabeth that she had already taken the ACT twice. Her scores were strong. Why did she want to take it again?
“It’s not for me,” she clarified. “It’s for my cousin, Anareli. She’s also a senior and I told her about what we’re doing in College Possible. She wants to apply to colleges too!”
This simple declaration became what I would soon see as Anareli’s own induction into College Possible.
“Bring your cousin to after school session!” I suggested enthusiastically. Elizabeth paused before responding. “Actually, that’s the thing. She has a baby. She needs to take care of her after school. I was hoping if you explained it to me, I could help her out later.”
This honest admission became what I would soon see as Elizabeth’s own induction as a de facto College Possible coach.
In session and via text, I began to anticipate Elizabeth’s barrage of questions as information-gathering to pass along to her cousin. At FAFSA night at school, I was able to watch as both Elizabeth and Anareli successfully submitted the FAFSA. During lunch, they came into the College Possible office so we could make follow-up calls to colleges. Behind the scenes, I know Elizabeth was going home from session and walking her cousin through the very processes that had overwhelmed her just months prior.
Soon, Elizabeth’s successes were reported alongside her cousin’s. Over Thanksgiving, Elizabeth sent me a celebratory text that she had been admitted to her first college. Anareli’s acceptance letter followed soon after.
Right now, Elizabeth has three amazing four-year options for next year to help her fulfill her dreams of becoming a nurse. Last I heard, Anareli has the same three options.
It’s hard to convey the pride I feel watching Elizabeth be able to so directly impact the futures of her cousin and young niece. What our students learn goes beyond simply gaining college knowledge. Elizabeth has become a fierce advocate, a patient teacher and an unyielding support system in her own right.
Anareli isn’t in my cohort, but I feel her victories as acutely as I do those of the students who are on my roster. Stories like these only remind me that what we do in College Possible doesn’t just shape the futures of our own students; these successes ripple out and impact families and future generations.
And that’s not the end of the family story: Elizabeth’s younger sister just applied to join the newest College Possible cohort. She will soon follow her sister and cousin’s footsteps and be part of the college graduating class of 2023.