Birthday Celebrations and Reflection

Brandy and Kirby

August is a very special month to me. I was born in August. Five years ago, MCAN officially launched as its own non-profit organization. Last year, I married the love of my life. And this August? I welcomed our first born – Kirby Daniel Repko.

During the pregnancy, I was often asked, "Is this your first?" I would joke that Kirby was my first human child, but that MCAN would always be my first baby. Now, nothing can compare to Kirby, but starting a nonprofit and watching it grow is more common to pregnancy and labor than one might think!

That immediate feeling of joy, excitement and panic when you receive confirmation your nonprofit status is approved or you're officially pregnant? Check

Growing pains? Check

Late night projects to submit a grant in time or finish building a crib? Check

Surrounding yourself with a strong support network? Check

Celebrating all victories - big and small? Check

Starting a nonprofit is no easy task. I remember the early days sitting alone in the MCAN office on Chestnut Street. Now, I'm surrounded by seven incredibly talented and dedicated colleagues. Each team member has pushed us farther and helped improve Michigan's college access strategy. In the past five years we've:

  • Awarded more than $4 million dollars to local communities to implement innovative college access strategies.
  • Launched a statewide initiatives strategy to include College Application Week, College Cash Campaign and College Decision Day.
  • Improved training and support for high school counselors through grants and a postsecondary planning training course.
  • Embraced collective impact framework, resulting in the production of Charting the Course: A community's guide for increasing educational attainment through the lens of collective impact.
  • Hosted numerous professional development opportunities through the annual conference, webinars and LCAN convenings.
  • Supported the growth of college advisers in Michigan through AdviseMI, Michigan State University College Advising Corps and the University of Michigan College Advising Corps.
  • Watched Michigan's college attainment rate increase from 36.4% to 38.4%

MCAN 5th birthday

And this is only a few of our accomplishments! I'm extremely proud of our hard working staff and board. MCAN would not be where it is today without them. I can't wait to see what the next five years will bring.

Happy birthday MCAN!


I won't leave you without the traditional baby facts and adorable pictures. Kirby was born on Saturday, August 1, 2015 at 6:34 a.m. He was 6 lbs, 10 oz and 19 inches long. The MCAN staff is already busy spoiling Kirby and stopping by for visits. Kirby even has his first acceptance letter to college courtesy of our good friend Christopher Tremblay at Western Michigan University.

Thank you to everyone for your well wishes!

Kirby collage


Author: Brandy Johnson, executive director of the Michigan College Access Network
Posted: August 19, 2015

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