There is no question that the United States is experiencing one of the most challenging times in our country’s history. Now more than ever, national service programs, like AmeriCorps, are uniquely poised to make a difference. With nearly 300 service members of our own, College Possible realizes that our work in supporting 23,000 students across the country each year wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication of our AmeriCorps members, especially during a global pandemic.
Throughout this unprecedented time, our AmeriCorps members continued to provide support and guidance as students transitioned from in-person to virtual instruction. Two of those College Possible Catalyze success coaches, Marceny Bedoy (CSU Stanislaus) and Tony Yang (St. Cloud State University), share why they chose to return for a second term of service amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: What initially inspired you to become a College Possible success coach and AmeriCorps member?
Bedoy: What inspired me to become a College Possible success coach and AmeriCorps member was that I would have the ability to not only serve students at the university where I attended, but also have the opportunity to engage with and give back to the community.
Yang: I chose to become a College Possible success coach and AmeriCorps member because I also came from a low-income and first-generation background. I’ve experienced what it’s like having a mentor and a role model in my life. It shaped who I am today and I wanted to make that same impact in other students’ lives.
Q: This is your second year serving with College Possible, what has been the biggest accomplishment for both yourself and your students thus far?
Bedoy: Being able to relate to one another has been the biggest accomplishment for myself and my students. It’s great when I’m able to connect with a student so they know that they’re not alone.
Yang: My biggest accomplishment so far has been helping my students identify and navigate scholarship opportunities and seeing them get granted, especially during COVID-19. Many of my students shared that they had struggled finding a scholarship in the past, so getting it this time around has meant a lot to them.
Q: As a near-peer success coach, how might you be able to engage with students differently than other people on campus?
Bedoy: I am able to engage with students differently on campus because I provide individualized coaching. As a near-peer success coach, I assess student well-being holistically, checking in with students about their academics, personal wellness and financial concerns.
Yang: In this role, I am able to support and connect with students quickly because I am fresh out of college – I still have that student mentality which allows me to relate more easily with them. Because we are similar in age, students feel more comfortable opening up to me and understand that I have also just had my own college experience.
Q: How do you think your role as a success coach and service members has changed during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Bedoy: Since the COVID-19 outbreak, my role as a success coach has changed since I haven’t been able to be physically present with my students. However, I have been able to connect virtually with more students than ever.
Yang: The biggest change during COVID-19 was going from providing in-person support to virtual support. Some students didn’t have access to technology, or learned best in the classroom. Some had a hard time finding resources online, so I spent a lot of time researching and navigating the new virtual platform to locate resources for students.
Q: In what ways do you think your ability to support students, whether virtually or in-person, impacts their college experience?
Bedoy: Whether it’s virtually or in-person, I think my role in supporting students makes an impact because I foster a sense of belonging. Students know that I am here to support them and help them in any way that I can in order for them to achieve their academic goals.
Yang: Like Marceny, I also think we help them feel a sense of belonging and motivate them to become better and successful. As success coaches, we can ensure their transition goes smoothly and act as a mentor which makes them feel confident and comfortable.