My name is Kiersten Nolan, and I am proudly serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Michigan College Access Network. As I enter into a second year of service, I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to create change in my home state. Specifically, I will be focusing on how Michigan’s higher education institutions are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and how they are staying connected to students and communities in a limited-contact world. 

It’s an ambitious task, and we are definitely building the plane as we fly it, but it’s such a unique opportunity to serve. There’s so much potential to do amazing things for Michigan’s students.

Last year I completed a year of service with City Year Denver, where I was a student success coach at a high school in the Denver Public Schools system. During my time there, I realized I wasn’t as interested in the hands-on, micro-interventions we were providing, but more so in the macro, structural aspects of education, especially those of higher education. This position at MCAN gives me a great opportunity to serve closer to home and in a field that I’m interested in pursuing as a career.

I am most excited about all of the potential this year holds. It is imperative that we keep students connected to and interested in pursuing higher education despite the unpredictability of the world. One of the things I appreciate about MCAN is their broad definition of post-secondary education. Even if a student doesn’t think a traditional four-year college is for them, there are still so many other opportunities to attain more than a high school diploma. But some students don’t know that, and their access to that information may be even more limited now with restricted college visits and virtual learning. Our goal is to get the necessary information to students to let them know their options and let them know why they should still pursue postsecondary education, despite all of the uncertainty this pandemic has brought. I am confident that we will be able to make a valuable impact on the futures of Michigan students.