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I graduated from Owosso High School in 2014, and it has been an honor to return to my community as an AdviseMI college adviser. I also serve Lincoln Alternative High School, and it’s been wonderful working with the staff at both schools to help further the postsecondary success of students. In my first year as an adviser, we increased FAFSA submissions and postsecondary attendance by more than 10%.

One of my favorite memories as an adviser involved efforts to increase student FAFSA completion numbers. Derek Woltjer, a freshman academic counselor, and I agreed that if students attained 50% FAFSA completion, we would let them shave our heads. Well, the deadline of March 1 came around, and students had reached 54% completion. As a result, we honored our commitment. We brought the senior class into the gym, gave a quick presentation, selected names, and had them shave our heads.

While often fun, my role as an adviser is not without difficulties. Like any district, we are challenged by students who, for various reasons, don’t want to pursue postsecondary education. Sometimes students must overcome social stigmas that make them think they aren’t college material. I do my best to help and encourage them. There also are students who refuse to meet with me, students who thought they applied or submitted the FAFSA but didn’t, and students who didn’t think they needed to submit the FAFSA. Other times, I’ve helped students deal with the disappointment of not getting accepted to their dream school.

Despite the challenges, my district has furthered its mission of establishing a college-going culture. We have “life after high school” discussions with students and promote college access. I enjoy assisting students in planning for a successful life after high school. The service I provide as an AdviseMI adviser creates amazing ripples in the lives of students and hopefully leads to better outcomes for their futures.

In addition to my role as a college adviser, I serve as the school club adviser for Model United Nations, a program where students debate geopolitical issues faced by the real United Nations. By taking the helm of this organization, I’ve learned more about the school and students I am serving. It definitely helps when my MUN students encourage their peers with college applications and FAFSA completion. As a former student of the district, it feels like everything has come full circle.

The success we have achieved with our students cannot be solely attributed to me. I must thank the wonderful counselors and staff of Owosso High School and Lincoln Alternative High School for working together as a team to help our students succeed.