Coming into my role as a College Adviser from a social work background was very fitting. I knew that I wanted to help a population whose voice may otherwise go unheard; the College Advising Corps provided me with just that opportunity. Our mission at AppCAC is to increase the number of low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented high school students who enter and complete higher education. As a social worker, I have the opportunity to accomplish this and to also pursue social justice in the educational field while addressing students' emerging higher education needs. The Appalachian College Advising Corps has provided me with the opportunity to not only change lives, but to impact the community by making higher education that much more attainable for students in Western North Carolina. As a part of this non-profit organization, I strive every day to be the person I never had in order to build productive relationships with my students, school community, and colleagues.
My interest in working with the Appalachian College Advising Corps began while I was completing my social work undergraduate internship with the Upward Bound program. I was motivated to intern with Upward Bound by a mentor who had previously been employed by the program. I began doing research on the program and was quickly intrigued; Upward Bound was just one of the many college access programs meeting a need for students in Western North Carolina. Upward Bound is a great college access program that supports disadvantaged students from various high schools in the Appalachian region of North Carolina. Upward Bound helps these students with any and all educational needs throughout their 4 years of high school. It was during my time with this program that I was introduced to the great world of college access.
When I chose to obtain a degree in social work I knew I was going into a helping profession; however, prior to my internship, I did not know where my path as a professional would begin or if I would go straight into graduate school. Upward Bound was a great program that taught me just how rewarding college access work can be. I realized that the work I was doing with this program would have helped me and many of my peers greatly when going through high school. Growing up with parents who are from another country, I did not have that background knowledge regarding college or how to get there. I realized that, as a professional, I wanted to be that person I did not have as I made it through school. I was very interested in college access work, so much so that when I heard a sister program in the college access department at Appalachian State University was hiring for the following year, I had to apply. That sister program was the College Advising Corps, and I am extremely delighted to be working as an adviser for this program today. I feel extremely fortunate to be surrounded by such a helping and welcoming department. Following my time with AppCAC, I will be well prepared for the next step in my life, whether that be graduate school or a position in the social work field.
I am the current College Adviser at Alexander Central High School in Taylorsville, NC; a tight-knit community about an hour away from Appalachian State’s campus. I am thrilled to be working alongside the staff at Alexander Central; there is truly a sense of community and family at this high school that makes the work I do that much more enjoyable. I have felt welcomed at Alexander Central by all staff, whether that be the counseling center staff, custodians, library staff, or the teachers; I am extremely gracious for how Alexander Central has brought me into their school and assisted me throughout this ever-changing year. I feel great about the connections I have with AppCAC and ACHS because I know I am well supported at both institutions. I am looking forward to my time at Alexander Central as I continue to build bridges for students in the college access world.
*Written by Adviser Alex Rangel