Please help us welcome Jennifer Perrine to the College Possible Oregon leadership team. We are thrilled to have her on board and wanted to share a little bit about her with you!
Jennifer began her career at Drake University as a professor. In her ten years there, Jennifer taught a variety of classes from social justice to creative writing to women’s and gender studies. She relocated from Iowa to Portland in 2016 and worked at Portland General Electric as the lead for employee training.
We asked Jennifer to respond to a few questions so that you could learn more directly from her:
Why College Possible, and why now?
While I was teaching at Drake, I learned about College Possible as I was researching ways to help the university improve its recruitment and retention of historically underrepresented students. I’ve admired so much of the College Possible program—near-peer coaching, student cohorts, the focus not only on college access but also on college success. When I moved to Oregon, I hoped to work with College Possible, but the timing wasn’t right. I kept an eye on College Possible, though, and by the time the Program Director position opened up, I’d gained valuable experience as part of the leadership team at PGE and knew that I was ready to bring that experience to serve a mission that was closer to my heart. Higher education changed my life in ways I could not have imagined, and I’m grateful to help clear the way for more people to access that life-changing experience.
Even though I’m not quite two months into my role, I’m already impressed at the knowledge and insight that our team already possesses. I appreciate the relationships that Corps and leadership have built with our high school and college partners, and I’m excited to learn more about the specific strengths of each of these learning communities, as well as the areas where we can better support students in these spaces. I love professional development and am excited to bring some practices and systems that can help our Corps and leadership team continue to build our skills and abilities. The Oregon team has also done meaningful and significant work related to diversity, inclusion and equity, and I’m energized at the prospect of continuing to drive those conversations and actions.
What’s the biggest issue you see facing our students today and do you have any solutions to them?
The cost of college is certainly one of the biggest barriers to student success. Our coaches already do an excellent job of helping students and their families to understand and navigate financial aid, and I know there are many great stories about ways that coaches have helped students use ingenuity, persistence and patience to find that last key piece that fills the financial gap. However, relying on individual efforts isn’t enough. As an organization, we need to continue to work with our college partners to develop creative solutions to making degrees affordable for our students. It’s also imperative that we collaborate with other education organizations to influence policy and advocate for paths to four-year degrees that are accessible to all students, regardless of financial need.
How do you like to spend your time outside of work?
I’m an avid hiker and try to hike or backpack every weekend, rain or shine. I also square dance with the Rosetown Ramblers, am a crew leader for Friends of Trees, and am on the editorial board for Airlie Press, which means I get to spend some time most weeks dancing, digging in the dirt, and reading and promoting wonderful poetry. Also—because Julie will tell you if I don’t—I’m a published writer, and there are few things that make me happier than getting lost in writing a poem or story.
The thing people are most surprised to learn about me is…?
I am full of surprises, but one that seems especially relevant to this role is that I stopped out of college for a year and a half, when I was only six credits shy of a BA. Thanks to the encouragement of some mentors, I did decide to go back to finish my degree, but I had difficulty pulling together financial aid for that last semester. So, I turned to my last hope: I became a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. I won enough money to pay for those last six credits and to cover some of my expenses for starting grad school. It all turned out well for me, but it’s certainly not the plan I’d recommend!
Have another question for Jennifer, or want to help welcome her to College Possible? Drop her a line any time at JPerrine@CollegePossible.org or 971.407.2962.