Adviser Spotlight: Kanyn Doan

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AdviseMI is an initiative of the Michigan College Access Network that works with AmeriCorps to place recent college graduates inMichigan high schools with low college-going rates. The advisers are trained to help students navigate the complex college exploration process, retake college admissions tests, apply to colleges that are a good match/fit, complete the FAFSA, secure financial aid, and matriculate to college. Kanyn Doan is a second year adviser exiting the program who served at Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy.

1. What is your college going story and how did it lead you to this position?

My college story begins at Ramstein American High School in Ramstein, Germany, where I attended my final year of high school while my dad was serving in the United States Air Force. I was a 17-year-old who would begin college by herself in the states, while my family was thousands of miles away. I knew I needed to be by my extended family, so I began looking for colleges in Michigan, where both of my parents are from.  I came across Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan (a city I had never head of), and was the only postsecondary institution I ended up applying to, and then later being admitted to. I embarked at Grand Valley studying Film and Video, and quickly found my calling in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Through involvement in the Women’s Center at Grand Valley, as well as studying abroad, and creating an education that has embedded a lasting impression on my purpose in this world, my college going experience was of the most important experiences of my entire life.

2. What was the biggest lesson you took from your time as an adviser?

The greatest and most impactful lesson I’ve taken from being an adviser is the lesson of sustaining relationships. You can talk to anyone in education and they will tell you how foundational and vital relationships are within the learning environment; my time as an adviser truly showed me the importance of building and upholding relationships in order to truly create change. When I began as an adviser, I observed the way in which the environment I had just entered flowed, how communication ran, and how every staff member was there to sustain the mission and vision in place: to never give up on our students, and to provide them with the opportunities they so deserve. Having gained this knowledge, I embarked on my role as an adviser with authenticity, critical listening, and dependability at the forefront of my mind. With these aspects in place, I was able to build strong relationships with both my students and fellow staff, and created a space where students knew they could come to get the answers they needed. This was a two-way street, however. The students taught me more than I could have ever asked for, and they did so effortlessly. They taught me how to be a reliable and responsible professional, and they taught me what is truly found when you build powerful and trusting relationships within the community that you are in. My students still constantly get a hold of me with questions and updates on their experiences, and I know that this would have never happened if I were not taught how to build relationships with those in my community.

3. Describe an initiative or program you spearheaded during your years of service.

After gaining a great deal of appreciation for the community that Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy has built within itself, I began to think about a way in which I could use high parental participation and commitment within cultivating the college going culture at this school. I created an event called Prepare The Parents, a night that allowed for parents of senior students to meet and talk with postsecondary education professionals, as well as community members that are in place to help their child in the college-going process. After two consecutive and very successful years, Prepare The Parents brought accessibility and communication to a low-income community with a high percentage of first-generation college going students as well as their parents who were empowered to understand the college experience, and provide support to their child as they embark on the journey that is postsecondary education.

4. What opportunities, if any, has this experience offered you now that you are completing your service?  What are you plans now that this term has ended?

I often tell people how good of a decision it was for me to take on the role of a college adviser immediately after graduating college. I truly believe that there is no other position that provides you with the opportunity to meet people from various backgrounds and expertises, as well as expand your own creative expression, and develop your unique style of professionalism. Without this position, I would have never met the individuals that I am lucky enough to now have in my network. Because of the experience that I was able to have at Grand Rapids University Prep Academy being a college adviser, I have been granted the opportunity to be a Student Success Coach at Grand Rapids Community College, where many of my students are now pursuing their associates degrees before attending a four-year institution. In this next chapter of my career, I will use the foundational people, tools and knowledge that I obtained while being a college adviser at Grand Rapids University Prep Academy. I am forever thankful for all of the people that have undoubtedly supported me on my journey to where I am now. Though I will miss my service site and all of the incredible students, staff and friends I know there, I am anxious to embark on yet another opportunity for me to grow, learn, and blossom.

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Author: Kanyn Doan, AdviseMI Adviser Alum
Posted: July 3, 2018

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