When I coach students, one of the main things I focus on is their ‘why,’ or their motivation behind finishing their degree. I do this because in my own experience, my ‘why’ was what kept me going from an early age toward my goal of being the first person in my family to graduate from college. My ‘why’ was my older brother Jeffry.
Throughout my youngest years, my mom worked hard to provide for my brother and I but struggled to make ends meet as a single parent despite the long hours she put in. She instilled a strong work ethic in both of us to always try our best and wanted a better future and opportunities for us than she had herself. Jeffry embodied the values that my mom passed on to us and was the person I looked up to the most. When I was in first grade, Jeffry was tragically killed in an accident while riding his bike–in a split second my world as I knew it would never be the same.
As I grew up and began to fully process what this meant, I grieved this loss at a variety of different levels. I remember when I was in middle school telling my best friend that I would go to college ‘for free’. I knew that I wanted to accomplish things that my brother never had the chance to do, and I didn’t want to overly burden my mom and new dad (who adopted me) with paying for it. I worked hard throughout my high school career to graduate at the top of my class and earn the scholarships I needed to make college a reality.
As a first generation college student, I struggled with a lot of things that I didn’t know to expect on campus. But every time I hit a roadblock, I reminded myself of why I was doing this–not only to be the first person in my family to graduate from college, but also to honor my brother’s memory. When I felt frustrated, I tried to remind myself that I was lucky for the chance to even have that moment of frustration because Jeffry never got to experience those things. I wanted to live a life that he would be proud of and take advantage of the opportunities he never got to have. My determination and connection to my ‘why’ enabled me to push through the ups and downs and graduate in 2007 with honors with my Bachelor’s in Psychology and Spanish from Dartmouth College.
It was also as an undergraduate that I realized I wanted to help people achieve their goals and dreams for their own educations and their futures. I went to graduate school for school counseling, and 3 years after working as a counselor found my calling as a success coach. I have never looked back and value every chance I get to support students in achieving the goals that are most important to them. I know for a fact that is something my brother would take pride in.
Q: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE?
“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.” –Mark Twain
Q: WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT COACHING?
Every day I get the opportunity to support other people in achieving their goals both inside and outside of school, and helping them to discover and live up to their own potential. There aren’t many things that are more inspiring than that! I truly believe in the power that education can have in transforming people’s lives, and in reentry coaching I get the opportunity to work with a student who is on the cusp of making that commitment to move forward and finish out this life-altering goal. I then get to witness the amazing things that my students can accomplish on this journey. Seeing someone have an ‘aha’ moment or reach that thing they have been striving for, whether it’s getting a certain grade on their final, figuring out how to juggle their schedule, or finishing their last class, brings such joy and energy into my life. It inspires me to try to be the best version of myself that I can be.