Adviser Spotlight: Simone Dixon

AdviseMI is an initiative of the Michigan College Access Network that works with AmeriCorps to place recent college graduates in Michigan 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. Simone Dixon is a second-year adviser exiting the program, who served at Old Redford Academy.

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

My college going story isn’t easy, but it’s pretty simple. I’ve always loved to learn and going to college wasn’t a question of if, but where. However, the universe had different plans in store for me and my family. Like most students across the country, I didn’t have access to a dedicated individual whose sole job was college advising. I planned on attending Saginaw Valley State University; however, I didn’t have a completed FAFSA. By the time I completed the financial aid form, there just wasn’t any money left. Therefore, I wasn’t able to attend. Like most people who loved knowledge, I made the only logical choice I could and attended Washtenaw Community College. From there I eventually transferred to Eastern Michigan University and finally had the “real” college experience I often hear my students speak of. I joined clubs, organizations and even held an on campus job for three years in a department that helped me find my passion and a job with AdviseMI. It was because of the network I created and their dedication to students’ growth that I first learned of AdviseMI and secured the position that would leave time to not only serve as an adviser in the city that is my second home, but also in my dad's former high school.

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

The best thing I learned is to just be my authentic self and to own up to our shortcomings. High school students have a raw sense of honesty and will just tell it like it is. Often when I would ask students why they wouldn’t come see me or keep our appointments I would hear “You’re cool and all Ms.D but there's ALWAYS someone else in your office doing something and I just feel like you're too busy to really focus on me.” What I heard is “you need to have a better system of engaging with me because I feel overwhelmed when you multi-task and can’t put all your focus into me.” So I did what I do best; I owned up to my shortcomings and apologized. I had to admit that I couldn’t do it all and I didn’t have too. I was, in fact, the “cool” person in the building and all I had to do was slow down and take a minute to regroup and the world wouldn’t stop spinning.

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

The best thing I created was a student office aide position. This position generates a lot of paperwork and administrative tasks. In exchange for community service hours, I recruited three reliable and trustworthy students to file and organize paperwork, stuff envelopes, make copies and bulletin boards as well as volunteer at my school events by greeting parents and staffing the welcome desk. I did this because unlike my high school experience, my students don’t have access to opportunities to serve as an aide or assistant in the office or throughout the building for credit. This program not only has with my capacity but provided students with office experience in preparation for college and/or the workforce.

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?

AdviseMI recognizes their advisers as the emerging leaders in the college access field. I have had multiple opportunities to contribute my voice, thoughts, time, means and talent to this organization through committee and conference presentations, as well as to serve as a mentor to incoming college advisers. From here, I will finish my master’s degree at Eastern Michigan University while still employed as a college adviser in my district. After that my plan is to pursue a PhD program out of state and to change the world because I know I am destined for greatness and this was only the beginning.

To learn more about AdviseMI visit http://www.micollegeaccess.org/statewide-initiatives/advisemi.

 

Author: Simone Dixon, AdviseMI Adviser Alum
Posted: July 31, 2018

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