I Found My Niche

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Recently, I was given the opportunity to attend a professional development conference that changed my entire perspective on education and access to it.

So here I was in Stowe, Vermont – a beautiful rural area – about 4 hours away from where I reside.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”2140″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”2139″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The (NEOA) New England Educational Opportunity Association’s Annual Conference. This event is a way to promote opportunities for students in secondary and higher education and to also recognize all the alumni/administration/faculty/staff who have made (and continue to make) great impacts on the lives of these students.

The existential question of “is this my job or my career” came to mind and it honestly took me days to fully analyze the question, to find an answer.

… A job is something you do to earn money; a career is a series of connected employment opportunities.
Jobs have minimal impact on your future work life, while a career provides experience and learning to fuel your future

I found the answer!
Here goes… Growing up, school was my entire life. My parents didn’t get the chance to finish their education and being the first-born (first generation) in the family, I was to set a good example.

University of Connecticut

The beginning milestone.

I received my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature (concentration in Creative writing) and a second major in Sociology.
I went to university, thinking I want to study Nursing. After taking all the hefty science classes, I realized I am not cut out for it.
I spoke to my advisor and in my eyes, she saw a teacher. The field of teaching was something that I knew about my entire life due to the line of teachers in my family.

In my heart, I knew I wanted a deeper impact than that.

I changed my major to Human Development and Family Studies, thinking counseling could bring me that deeper impact. It wasn’t quite right.
In the last semester of my second year, I fell deeply in love with writing. I kept it to myself. I wasn’t sure how my parents would take that revelation.
English isn’t my native language but it is something I have learned and have become incredibly fond of. For years, I didn’t realize I need to impact myself, in order to do that for someone else. During that time, I didn’t think writing would make any life-changing impressions but I found my voice and I couldn’t let it go!

Quick gist – I was part of a TRIO program called Student Support Services (SSS). This program is a backbone for students going into college or university blind. “Blind” meaning from first-generation or low-income backgrounds.
In my 2nd year, my SSS advisor gave me a flyer for a tutoring job. I was in a space where I wasn’t making many friends and I needed some sort of experience to further solidify my college career. I applied and got the job.

For more information about Trio Programs, click here


The second milestone.

My first year working for the Connecticut Collegiate Awareness and Preparation program based at the University of Connecticut, I was a tutor for English and Humanities at two high schools. Proofreading and editing student essays, helping with annotations or finding easier ways to read an assigned book. I even helped with a French class some students were taking. Loved it. Interacting with students from various backgrounds, making friends with the other tutors and my supervisor was FANTABULOUS!

My supervisor saw my hard work and she trusted me enough to be her right-hand woman in the summer. I was titled the Summer Residential Hall Coordinator. During the residential summer component, I had the chance of living with 70 plus students at the university’s campus.

For more information about ConnCAP (new name UCAP), click here

I had the chance to switch roles and I enjoyed every second of it.
Two summers of working as a Hall Coordinator, a summer being in the shoes of the summer residential tutor/counselors. In the role of the Tutor/Counselor; I was a resident assistant, a counselor, and an English professor’s assistant. Then another, where I collaborated with a tutor/counselor in developing a  curriculum for our English as a Second Language (ESL/EAL) class.
I was allowed to voice my opinions and share my thoughts with my colleagues. The students were a blast. There was never a dull day – I mean, TEENAGERS![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”2143″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”2144″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]ConnCAP gave me the opportunity to learn from people who have been in higher education for years, network with teachers who enforce social justice; administrators who love every minute of what they do; professors in the English literature department.

The sky was not the limit!

In 2016, I became the Academic Advisor Assistant. My supervisor’s right hand and left leg (as she always said). Just graduated uni with my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Sociology, with nothing truly calling my name but higher education. I was given this opportunity and I was beyond grateful. I facilitated meetings for our target schools, organized events, anything to help lessen the load I was there to lend a hand.

A year came by and I needed to grow up.

My familial and financial responsibilities were piling. Although I wanted to grow old there, even my supervisor saw I needed a change.
Month after month of talking about finding a new job and not truly doing the research, the month of November reared its head. I applied for two jobs I wasn’t qualified for and heard nothing back.
Then I planned a trip to Ghana. I couldn’t stay in the cold and wallow away.

December popped up. I couldn’t let a new year pass without some solid and good changes to my life. I looked into a school I fell in love with when I first visited and told myself I’d definitely apply for my graduate school. Found a job – admission counselor – I applied and because of my lack of experience in the field, it was a NO. I was starting to give up when I received a call about my qualifications for a job at Upward Bound Math/Science.

Upward Bound Math/Science

My third milestone.

I applied and left for Ghana! I tried to enjoy my vacation with my family but at the back of my mind, all I could think about is when will I get this interview date.

January 10th, 2018 – my nephew Cody was born and I received an email to schedule an interview for the job!!!!! I was beyond ecstatic. 

I scheduled a Skype interview, while in Ghana. First attempt, a complete fail. The internet service was working perfectly fine when my fam and I set it up. As the call arrived, it blew up in my face (figuratively).
There was no connection. I cried. My fam cheered me up by getting me food from one of my favorite spots in Dansoman, Accra.

Click Hidden Treasures for all the amazing places I found in Ghana. 

The second attempt at a Skype interview – I was back in Connecticut – still tricky but managed to go well.
After two weeks, I received another call to come to the campus for an in-person interview. I was nervous AF that I had to present to a panel of people on how I would advise low-income, first-generation students in the process of achieving a college education. I was with people who understood TRIO, people who advocate for higher education and I felt so at home.

February 26th, 2018 – Here I am.

The Program Coordinator for three target schools in two districts. I have my own office and BUSINESS CARDS 😀  It is a full-time position with benefits that I haven’t fully unraveled. I work with a cohort of 50-60 students.

In the academic year, I meet students at their high schools to discuss their grades, upcoming enrichment trips, college preparation and just anything a student would like to discuss.
Currently ended recruitment of students in those target schools. Working on the interview process. I am looking forward to the summer component of this job. This one is non-residential so I do get some “freedom”. I am looking forward to more interaction with the students.

Dear reader, if you’ve read to the end, I just want to say hard work definitely pays off! My advice is, allow people to see your potential in everything you do. Self-doubt will lead to nothing. If I gave up in my job search, I would probably still be at home without purpose.

I want to say a big THANK YOU to my support systems.

Without mum’s nagging, I wouldn’t have accomplished much.

I wouldn’t even realize my own potential, without the help of my supervisors

Without Francis and Rodney and Sita – my fam – I would be wallowing and missing all the good food.

I would not have fully pushed myself, without my big brother’s encouragement and prayers


Check out my interview @alleyesonme.wordpress.com

Stay Inspired and Push Boundaries



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