What Service means to me: An Adviser's Reflection

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.

Alexa Girouard is a second-year adviser who serves at Belding High School.

Just coming out of college, I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA doing College Access and Success and Student Engagement work at Davenport University and with the Challenge Scholars programs with Grand Rapids Public Schools. This position ignited my passion for higher education and the way it impacts students’ lives. My service in VISTA was more about capacity building and indirect service, so I started to gain a hunger for doing service more directly and building stronger connections with students to make an impact. I then moved to serving with MCAN’s AdviseMI program as a College Adviser. Both of these programs have led me to be the passionate, young professional and confident leader I am today. I am so fortunate to do this nonprofit work and serve my incredible students, as well as work alongside so many intelligent, self-less, passionate advisers in my cohort. I am constantly grateful to be surrounded by powerful and empowering people, mentors and colleagues, who continually inspire me. I have learned so much from my students, my fellow advisers, and our phenomenal leadership at MCAN. Although this work is not always easy, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made and my experience means the world to me.

 My current service is so vastly different than my experience with VISTA, and they have both prepared me to advance myself. VISTA assisted me to become a young professional and gain my passion for higher education. AdviseMI has fostered my growth and has given me the opportunity to continue to cultivate these skills and attributes I have gained. I have grown more confident in my abilities, knowledge, leadership skills, and my ability to create relationships with students. At Belding, I have been able to help so many students take down barriers to postsecondary education, decide to pursue college to better themselves and erupt with happiness when I tell them they have the option to go to college when they never thought it was possible.  Being a hub of information and a resource for students and families in my community has been an absolute privilege. I have been able to increase their FAFSA submissions by 20%, held a dual-county college fair at my school, and held an event at our local community college for students and parents to come and learn more about colleges and programs.

 Service has shaped my life, my passion, and my professional and personal growth in very significant and special ways. Being a service member is the most valuable and rewarding position, and being able to help others and their communities come together and excel is just extraordinary. Being an AmeriCorps member means being a part of something much bigger than yourself, and willing to do the grassroots work as a puzzle piece of a larger solution for our communities. My time as a service member has brought me to some of the most amazing rewards of serving others, the most wonderful people and leaders, and facilitated some difficult lessons along the way. Being a service member teaches you about the world around you, and about other people’s challenges, which makes you become a person who searches for solutions. Service work is about entering a community, asking what they need, and doing what you can to advance that community, and in turn, to make the world a better place.

Author: Alexa Girouard, Second-Year AdviseMI Adviser, Belding High School
Posted: Nov. 6, 2018

Michigan College Access Network | 200 N Washington Square, Suite 210, Lansing, MI 48933 (map) | (517) 316-1713 Contact Us | Site Map | Terms and Privacy