Heidi Paulson is a Get Ready Pathways Coordinator who serves at Apollo High School in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Recently, she had a student approach her with a concern: he was struggling with what to do after graduation. He wanted to attend college, but he didn’t think he’d be able to because of a learning disability.
Heidi got started by spending some time with the student, discussing his future and going over the results of his interest assessment together. This culminated in the student deciding to explore an HVAC program at a local community college. Heidi took the next steps by working with the college to set up a tour of the program for the two of them. She also arranged for meetings with the Director of TRIO/Upward Bound, an academic college prep program, as well as the college’s Accessibility Services and Admissions Counselor. Heidi then helped the student complete the college application and additional paperwork.
A few weeks later, Heidi received another visit from the student, this time with exciting news – he was accepted into the program and was looking forward to starting the fall after graduation!
“He told me none of this would have happened without my help and encouragement and the Get Ready program," Heidi said. “He is so happy to have a plan and can see himself doing this career for many years."
This fall, our Get Ready schools have had great success with college and post-secondary opportunity visits. These visits serve the students by spreading interest in the programs and activities available to them during their journeys after high school, and help determine what college or organization may be the right fit for their future. In addition, students are able to establish an initial point of contact with college or organization officials, ask questions, and acquire key resources. We look forward to the continuation of these events and providing students a firsthand view of all the opportunities they have post-secondary.
Get Ready would like to thank the following colleges and organizations for their participation: Concordia University, Dunwoody College of Technology, Hamline University, Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corps Center, Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center, Minnesota National Guard, Minnesota State University – Mankato, Moorhead State University, Saint Paul College, Southwest Minnesota State University, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud Tech & Community College, St. John’s University Student Ambassadors, The College of St. Scholastica, University of Minnesota – Duluth, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, University of North Dakota, US Army.
And a big thank you to all who helped with the events and encouraged students to participate!
The Minnesota Association of Counselors of Color (MnACC) is a post-secondary collaborative dedicated to improving access to higher education for Minnesota's students of color. Each year, MNACC hosts college fairs at high schools within the Twin Cities metro. Three of Get Ready's schools, Tech High School (St. Cloud), Apollo High School (St. Cloud), and Harding High School (St. Paul), partnered with MnACC for their fall fair circuit this past November, in which each were met with a great turnout. We look forward to partnering with MnACC during their spring circuit where more Get Ready students will be able to explore higher education opportunities!
October is College Knowledge Month and Steven Roenfeldt, Pathways Coordinator at Tech High School, represented Get Ready in an informational video created by St. Cloud Area School District 742. The video highlights all of the programs and opportunities available to students, including access to the Get Ready program and our amazing Pathways Coordinators!
Get Ready students from the Class of 2023 were invited to attend the Rising Senior Summer Success Program (RSSSP), which was held on three separate days over the summer.
The program gave students the opportunity to visit one of three local colleges: St. Paul College, North Hennepin Community College, and St. Cloud Tech and Community College. During the visits, students were able to tour the campus, meet with advisors and subject matter experts, explore college and career options, and attend hands-on workshops that covered topics such as: writing personal essays and statements for college and career applications, introduction to Federal Student Aid and accessing money for college, how to find and apply for scholarships, and utilizing free training programs.
The students left the program with tools and resources to continue their career and college planning – but not without expressing the positive impact of the program.
"The tour was really fun," one student expressed. "I liked all of the cool, different classes, and the presentations were enjoyable."
"All of the presenters did a great job. One thing I learned was during the Searching for Scholarships presentation; scholarships are everywhere, and people will be able to help connect you," another student commented.
Staff also found the program impactful, "I was inspired by the job shadowing discussion. I will be setting that up for my students. And the career interest survey was fun!"
Thank you to the colleges and staff for helping make the RSSSP a success, and welcoming Get Ready back for future programs and events. We look forward to these opportunities, and continuing to see our students succeed down their college and career paths.
Last month in our nation’s capital, the National Council of Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) hosted the largest convening yet of GEAR UP professionals at the 2022 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference, an annual event which saw over 2,100 attendees, including 11 Minnesota Get Ready Staff.
The three-day event included a new member orientation, daily keynote plenaries, and over 120 individual sessions taught by industry experts.
"It was a great experience attending in person," commented Lisa Thao, Get Ready Pathways Coordinator. "I’ve attended the conference in the past virtually, and as great of an experience as that was, the in-person experience was so much more engaging. It was great to see the 2,000+ GEAR UP professionals. It was a good reminder that we don’t do this work alone, not in our successes nor in our struggles. There are so many programs out there and everyone does it a little differently but our goals are the same, to help our students and that’s a reminder of the hard and yet rewarding career we choose. The conference for me was reaffirming the importance of our work and why we choose to be in this field."
The conference also included a set of moving presentations by the 2022 Youth Leadership Summit, which was made up of 150 high students from across the country. The students touched on passion topics such as postsecondary education access and affordability, mental health, environmental sustainability, education reform, and gun violence.
"Hearing from students and parents who have participated in the GEAR UP program reaffirmed for me that what we do as a program does work and is making a difference," said Mai Chue Moua, Get Ready Pathways Coordinator. "To hear about the issues that are important to students such as gun violence and school safety to the value of developmental and life skills taught through GEAR UP workshops have been an incredible insight. Hearing how parents have been empowered through their GEAR UP participation, paired with data showing how 3 hours of family engagement can influence the probability of students to pursue post-secondary education by three or four times is astounding and inspirational."
"This was a great way to bond with coworkers," shared Morgan Barrett, Get Ready Executive Assistant. "With everyone working from home, it has been difficult to get know my colleagues. I was thankful for that opportunity this conference provided."
In anticipation of the upcoming school year, the Get Ready team looks forward to using their new connections and resources, in addition to applying the ideas and skills they learned at the conference.
The 2022 Como Career & Trade Fair hosted 29 organizations – a diverse mix of businesses, industries, and companies – which provided students with a holistic view at how organizations operate and what kinds of career avenues and students can pursue after high school and college.
Some organizations and businesses included Best Buy, Metropolitan Mosquito Control, MHealth Fairview, MacDonald & Mack Architects, Ltd., Iron Works 512, small business owners Jen Calero and Gina Watkins from FLUX Studio, and artist Willian Wood from Phresch. Each organization and business were there to share their unique perspectives, and Como Pathway Coordinators noticed many had a constant stream of students visiting their tables.
The Como Pathway Coordinators were consistently reminded by presenters how much they enjoyed meeting with the Como students, and how thoughtful and engaging the students were with their inquiries. Many of the presenters commented how they look forward to returning to future career fairs. The enthusiasm was not one-sided; the students reciprocated with excitement, and the Coordinators mentioned hearing multiple positive comments from the kids.
Many thanks to the Como counselors and staff who helped the Coordinators get the word out to both recruit presenters and promote the Career & Trade Fair. In anticipation for next year’s event, the coordinators are already thinking of ways to grow and make this event even better. We look forward to seeing continuing success with the Como Career & Trade Fair!