Current job title and employer and briefly describe what it is you do: I am a transitional program coordinator at Northeast Kingdom Youth Services, where I partner with homeless and at-risk youth in the NEK. In this role, I work closely with individuals to co-develop pathways to stable housing, and goal attainment. I would describe this role as a bridge, as this is a bridge for youth to become meaningfully connected to the community, and it is also a service where I can meet these individuals where they are at and challenge their growth and goals. This is a role that is really about demonstrating care, and honoring the journeys that these youth want to embark on.
Academic experience at Saint Michael's College help prepare you for your career: A key lesson that I learned at St. Mike’s was when I was a part of a MOVE service trip to Buffalo. I learned the importance and the value of what serving a community should be. Service is about working with people authentically and maintaining relationships that honor their lives and perspectives. I would also say that within the education department through our experiential learning opportunities, I understood that education should be about how we work with youth, and not for youth. Validating their perspectives and agency is something that was celebrated and that aspect of student voice is pivotal towards the educational experience. In particular, I remember Professor Bedell telling us that we as educators working with students can either, “live up to their expectations, or live down to their expectations.”
Favorite memory or class from your time studying at St. Mike’s: One of my favorite memories was that in our Canadian Politics course, we got to travel to Ottawa and meet with members of parliament from the Liberal, Conservative, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois parties. It was a time where our class really got to bond and experience what we had been learning in class. Having Professor Ayres give us a tour of Ottawa was such an exciting experience that I will never forget.
Completed or are completing a graduate program, please provide the name of the degree and institution: This year, I completed my M.A. in Education Policy & Leadership from the University of Minnesota, and my thesis was a critical discourse analysis between student and non-student researchers and their different understandings of what student voice is in the U.S. I found that students have virtually been excluded from the defining and rules of what student voice is. I am planning on getting a PhD in education policy. Without the support of Professors Siplon, Nagle and Doyle, I would not have had the research skills necessary to enter grad school, and I am incredibly grateful for them challenging my growth as a learner.
Translated your volunteer experience at Saint Michael’s into giving back to your community after graduation: After graduation, I served in AmeriCorps in the Twin Cities as a student success specialist for first-generation, income-eligible students. I served in this role for two years, as I appreciate the importance and value of working with a population for an extended period of time. I really believe it’s important that service is about building and connecting with a community long term.
Other information you would like to share or advice for incoming or current students: I say this as a first-generation student, to take advantage of the career services and the time with your advisors. It may feel intimidating to go to these centers on campus, because you may come in feeling disconnected from the experiences and backgrounds of other students, but the staff and faculty at St. Mike’s truly care about making your learning journey a meaningful experience for you. These services can only further enrich your experience and prepare you for life after college.