After graduating from Oregon State University, Callie knew she wanted to give back to her community and use her skills for advising and orientation to help students. Her motivations led her to apply to become an AmeriCorps service member with College Possible, where she completed two terms of service as a High School Coach in Reynolds High School outside of Portland, Oregon. Callie was so motivated and inspired by the team at College Possible that she decided to apply for a full-time Program Coordinator position following her two terms of service. She now oversees a team of six AmeriCorps members who offer tech-connected coaching to high school students throughout the country.
Callie’s history with College Possible evidences the opportunities available to AmeriCorps alumni. Her position allows her to continue working for education equity, this time from a place of leadership.
Q: What drew you to become an AmeriCorps member with College Possible?
I actually found out about College Possible and found out I wanted to serve before I realized it was AmeriCorps—I had no idea when I started looking into it. I went to Oregon State and they were at a career fair. I talked to a Corps member who was currently serving and she had nothing but good things to say. I pretty much knew as soon as I left the career fair that I wanted to apply.
Q: Did you know you wanted to do a year of service after graduating from college?
I knew I wanted to help people, but I didn’t know it would be through AmeriCorps. That being said, I’m really glad that it was. I really enjoyed serving with AmeriCorps because it was a huge learning opportunity and it’s unique in the way it brings people together. When I talked to my friends about what they did after college and their first jobs, I can say pretty confidently that I felt a greater sense of community than other people working at their first job. I really liked it. It’s just a huge community, and that’s something looking back that was really helpful and really inspiring.
Q: When you applied to be an AmeriCorps member with College Possible, why did you decide to be a High School coach in particular?
I really wanted to help students before they came into college. In college, I worked in advising and in orientation, and in both those jobs I realized how big the knowledge gap was between students who came from very well-resourced households with a lot of family support and those who didn’t necessarily have all the same resources. I thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved and hopefully get more information to the students who could have used it.
I knew pretty quickly into my first year as a Junior High School Coach that I wanted to return for a second year. I really loved my students. I feel lucky to have been able to serve two years with them. It was definitely about the students. It gave me a great opportunity to jump right into senior year. I will say though, there were people on my team who hadn’t been junior coaches and they jumped right in to the senior coaching role and their students loved them. They were fabulous in their roles.
Q: Why were you interested in continuing to work for College Possible after your terms of service?
I really loved the organization and I loved the community. I love the feeling when I come into work and knowing that I’m contributing in a small way to student success. Helping students who really deserve the opportunity to attend and graduate from college get there is just awesome. I feel really lucky to wake up and come to work. I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t want to do that.
Q: What have you learned within your new role as a Program Coordinator?
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that roles are different. Direct service is really different from VISTA service and Leadership Team service is really different from Corps service. But on all the teams I’ve been on, being student-focused is always the answer. It’s important to be able to tie everything to do back to students. We talk about students every single day and what’s best for them, even if we’re not directly serving them. I really appreciate that.