Summer Madrid served with AmeriCorps as a College Completion Corps coach at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College during 2021.

Deciding to serve with College Completion Corps was one of the best things I have done in my life. Not only was I able to develop skills that help me in my current position, but it also helped me think about and prepare for my future. Before serving, I wasn’t sure what kind of career I wanted, but I knew that I liked helping people. Serving at a community college helped me realize that I really liked that setting and that I wanted to focus on building a career in supporting individuals as they work toward their ideal lives.

Since finishing my year of service, I have been working at a community college as an educational training specialist – more casually known as a “coach” to the students I support. As a College Completion Corps coach and AmeriCorps service member, I was able to gain experience that directly prepared me for a career supporting individuals aspiring to earn their degree or certificate. When I started in my current role, I was able to immediately start supporting students because of the skills and experience I gained during my service year. The time I spent searching for additional training opportunities to grow my skills as a College Completion Corps coach made me familiar with the variety of professional development opportunities available, which continues to help me grow in my current position.

I learned and improved many skills during my time with College Completion Corps. The training I received before I started, my experiences working with my cohort of students, and the professional development opportunities I pursued independently helped me with time management, setting goals, performing outreach, and coaching strategies – all skills that I continue to use in my current position. I also became familiar with important tools that many colleges use to support students, such as early alerts and texting platforms.

Equity is an important issue in the academic world. As a College Completion Corps coach, I served at a tribal college in my community. Pushing for equity in educational opportunity within a community that has been historically underserved was important work that prepared me to support students from underrepresented populations at my current community college. I was able to learn and develop strategies that I continue to use today to make sure I am advancing equity at my college, and I am pursuing more training opportunities on equity to continue growing, both personally and professionally.

I really enjoy supporting community college students and coaching them toward their ideal lives. In the future, I will be applying to graduate school to earn a master's degree in counseling so I can continue to advance my career. Service gave me relevant experience, and writing monthly reflections as a service member has given me the confidence to write essays for my graduate school applications.

Serving in College Completion Corps was an overwhelmingly positive influence on my life. I hope that many more people decide to serve with AmeriCorps and have their own positive, growing experience. For everyone who is currently serving or has served – thank you for getting things done for your communities and for America!