Michigan's College Access Blog


School counseling programs play a vital role in ensuring students are provided the support they need to enroll in and complete college - a key component to Michigan meeting our Big Goal - 60 percent by 2025. The recipient of this award is an individual school counselor or school counseling program that has made significant strides in advancing the college readiness and enrollment supports and services to students which assists in moving the needle on critical postsecondary metrics. 

1. The award you received is for individuals who make significant strides in advancing the college readiness and enrollment supports and services to students, what lead you to pursue this kind of work?

I had the great fortune to have a high school Counselor who took the extra time to work with me during my senior year at Bullock Creek High School.  I was a first-generation student and had absolutely no clue what it would take to apply to college, take the ACT, and apply for scholarships.  Mr. JP LaCroix was there for me every step of the way.  Even more, fortune came my way when I was hired at my own high school, Bullock Creek, to work under JP.  He provided mentorship and guidance in working with juniors and seniors prior to his retirement.  I have a passion for meeting students' needs, whether it is emotional, social, or planning for life beyond Bullock Creek. I especially enjoy working with first-generation students and their families because I know that it can be a difficult road to college.

2. You are helping us draw closer to Goal 2025 as a college access champion. Can you tell us about one program or initiative you have pioneered or worked on in your role that has helped you make strides toward college readiness and attainment in your community?

Bullock Creek High School has a team of teachers, counselors and administrators dedicated to ensuring our students leave Bullock Creek with a plan.  I am proud of our initiatives, such as increasing our dual enrollment, starting an Early College Program, and most recently, our involvement with MCAN.  Through MCAN and our local LCAN, Midland County Career and College Access Network, Bullock Creek was able to secure a college adviser and receive a Reach Higher Grant.  This jump started our push toward Goal 2025.  Having a college adviser has increased our ability to meet one on one with our students who need it most.  I am proud that we have made significant strides toward reaching our goals.

3. We believe that college and credentials can be life changing to people across the state, why do you believe that is true in your community?

Many of our students come from first-generation, low-income families.  I believe it is important to challenge the students in our community to dream big and pursue their goals.  We can help our students to achieve their education and career goals by empowering them, providing mentorships, and equipping them with the tools necessary to be successful. Preparing our students to apply for a college degree, seek a certification, or join the military helps to them discover their passion.

Author: Jennifer Brown, School Counselor and Early College Coordinator, Bullock Creek High School
Posted: December 4, 2018

My “Drive” for College Access

Christopher Tremblay is the current Director of External Engagement at the Michigan College Access Network.

Prior to joining MCAN in August as the Director of External Engagement, I had been active in the college access movement for eight years.  My first participation was as a leadership team member for Project ACE (Access to College for Everyone), a local college access network that existed in Wayne, Michigan.  Over the years, I had considered college access to be my “professional hobby” since I was an enrollment management professional.  During my affiliation with MCAN, I served as an external evaluator for MCAN grants, published an article about college access marketing, became a member of MCAN, served on the taskforce that launched MCAN’s school counselor training program, served on the implementation committee for the original College Application Week, to name a few.  As you can see, my roots in college access run deep.

As a first-generation college graduate, I am grateful to my mentors who showed me the way through college and into my professional career.  Those mentors include Amy Schwentor, Beth-Gregory Wallis, Marian Hawkins, Donna St. John, Diane Ariza, Pam Liberacki and Stanley Henderson.

In 2014, I was inspired to co-create the Journal of College Access with Dr. Patrick O’Connor.  Since the first issue in 2015, the Journal has published 28 articles that have been downloaded some 9,000+ times!  It has been rewarding to showcase the important work and research happening throughout the United States.  We always are seeking new submissions, so give it some thought.

In honor of my new “drive” for college access in my new role, I felt it was fitting that I had a license plate to showcase my commitment to MCAN and Goal 2025 (60% of adults 25-64 with a postsecondary credential).  Most of you know that I have expressed my professional work with a personalized license plate since I first became “MRWMU” in 1995.  So the trend continues.  (Note:  Brandy Johnson thought I should have gone for “MRMCAN,” but I was able to surprise her when I presented “MCAN 60.”

In January-February, I am thrilled to be teaching a graduate level course on college access and equity for students at WMU, my alma mater (Go Broncos!).  This will give us another opportunity to shape the minds of others interested in this important work. 

I look forward to serving Michigan’s citizens by advocating for change that enables more Michiganders to pursue and earn a postsecondary credential!  #goal2025

Author: Christopher Tremblay, Director of External Engagement, Michigan College Access Network
Posted: Nov. 27, 2018

Alumni Feature: Lindsay Mieden

Lindsay Mieden is a former College Adviser who served at Woodhaven High School. Lindsay currently serves as a school counselor at Gabriel Richard Catholic High School.

“Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists they become the best they can possibly be.”

-Rita Pierson, Educator

TED Talks 2013

 Pursuing and accepting the College Adviser position with AdviseMI was the best decision I’ve ever made. I had no idea at the time, but those two years of service set me up on the journey that I am on today, and I truly do not know where, or who, I would be without it. After graduation with my Bachelor of Arts in degree in psychology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in April 2015, my future path did not yet feel clear. I knew the general work that I wanted to do—work with youth and make a difference—but I was not sure of how to get there. However, the moment that I read the College Adviser job description, my excitement went through the roof, feeling that I was meant for this job. Knowing that I would be in a position to help students have access to postsecondary education, along with the financial resources for those opportunities, felt like my life calling. Little did I know, my college adviser position would be so much more.

My experience serving Woodhaven High School in Brownstown, Michigan was fulfilling. The staff was extremely supportive, and the students were incredible! Seeing them excited about the college application process and all of the potential opportunities ahead of them was incredible, and I felt honored to be part of their journey.

However, it did not take long before I realized that this work was more than assisting with career assessments, college applications, and financial aid letters. These students had real life challenges that they faced each day. These obstacles in their lives were tough for them to navigate during their high school years, and I knew that if they were not given the tools to overcome them at that point in their lives, their chances of making it through their postsecondary education were slim. It was with this realization that I knew I wanted to become a school counselor, and I enrolled in Central Michigan University’s Clinical and School Counseling program.

I have since graduated with my Master of Arts in counseling and am working as a school counselor at Gabriel Richard Catholic High School in Riverview, Michigan Now, I help my students not only with the college application process but also with their overall development. Whether they face mental health obstacles, academic struggles, or fears about the next chapter of their life, it is my job to help them overcome that. Working with students on developing their mental health has quickly become one of my biggest passions, and that has stemmed from my role as a College Adviser. 

To some, it may seem strange that postsecondary planning and mental health are linked, but I would disagree. It is my belief that everything we do, or not do, in life stems from our mental health: self-confidence, ability to cope, resiliency, and ability to adapt to new situations. I think to myself, “What if every student struggling with depression knew that things would get better? What if every student who was labeled as a behavior issue had help identifying their strengths instead of being told about their weaknesses? What if every student who struggled academically had an adult who believed in them?” High school is such a delicate time in a student’s life, and if each child truly had a champion who never gave up on them, imagine what they could become. I am blessed to not only have a job that allows me to do this, but also to work with a staff who believes in this message as well.

I do not know what the next chapter of my life holds, because I would have never imagined that I would be where I am. The experiences that the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) provided me has set me up on the path that has become my career. I am beyond blessed and privileged to do what I love every day, and I owe that all to MCAN.


Lindsay Mieden, MA, SCL, LLPC
School Counselor (A-K)
Gabriel Richard Catholic High School



Michigan Needs to Commit to “Total Talent”

John Austin is the current Director of the Michigan Economic Center and former President of Michigan State Board of Education. Brandy Johnson is the current Executive Director of the Michigan College Access Network. Both serve as members of the Michigan Higher Education Attainment Roundtable (MIHEART).

Over a dozen years ago then-Governor Granholm charged Lt. Governor John Cherry and a coalition of state leaders to develop a plan to help Michigan dramatically increase the number of citizens with a postsecondary credential – an essential starting point for success in the modern economy. The Cherry Commission’s recommendations gave birth to the Michigan College Access Network and saw passage of state legislation to help more Michiganders be prepared for and be able to access and pay for essential higher education. 

As our economy and labor market has continued to change, today it is more important than ever that all Michiganders be equipped with the skills and education beyond high school to be prepared for the jobs of today, and those that will emerge tomorrow. 

We are very excited to share the work of a coalition of Michigan business, military, law enforcement, higher education, education, philanthropic and government leaders: the Michigan Higher Education Attainment Roundtable (MIHEART)—convened and facilitated by MCAN—who have laid out a new blueprint and call to action to build Michigan’s talent.

The “Total Talent” report challenges Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, her team, and the Legislature to act with greater urgency to meet Michigan’s talent gap. The report shows that while Michigan has increased its rate of postsecondary credential attainment to almost 44% of the population, those and communities with higher rates are the ones reaping economic gains in the form of job creating and employer attraction.

Today the pace of change in the workplace is accelerating–high-wage/skill jobs growing, middle-skill jobs changing, and low-skill jobs disappearing.  Since 2011, 99% of new jobs have required education past high school. Many workers are seeing jobs automated and facing dislocation—particularly in Michigan. To adapt, all Michiganders need some form of postsecondary credential as a starting point on an evolving career path, and lifelong acquisition of new skills and credentials as the workplace changes.

The report notes that Michigan has shifted the burden of paying for postsecondary education on to the backs of students and families and now has one of the highest shares of higher education costs being borne by students and families–6th highest in the nation. Michigan also has more workers than almost every state already on the job with some college, but no degree (20%) and these workers are at risk of seeing their occupations disappear. 

In recent years we have seen significant progress made by Michigan’s talent preparers —Michigan’s public and independent colleges and universities—to cut costs, get more bang for our taxpayer buck by improving access and creating efficient paths “to and through” postsecondary credential attainment and ensuring learners successfully complete degree and certification programs.

But to meet the needs of Michigan’s employers and equip our citizens with the tools they need to succeed, the report challenges the Governor-elect Whitmer and the Legislature to work more urgently to meet our goal of more than 60% of our citizens earning a degree or postsecondary certificate.

To accomplish this goal—MIHEART’s priority recommendations include significantly increasing state-provided need-based financial aid to make education past high school accessible and affordable for all students; and more aggressive state outreach and financial support for the 20% of Michigan workers already in the labor market with some college and no degree, so they can earn a credential that will allow them to get and keep a good job.

Other recommendations of MIHEART in “Total Talent” are to:

  • Improve career/college awareness and advising at high school and college levels
  • Enhance collaboration between K-12 and higher education institutions to improve alignment and acceptance of credit in rigorous academic areas
  • Improve transfer and credit acceptance between various higher education institutions for seamless learning and credential earning
  • Increase high school student participation in all forms of powerful and cost-saving early postsecondary credit-earning programs (dual enrollment, Early/Middle Colleges, CTE, and AP/IB course taking)
  • Enhance higher education institutions work in institutional completion and success strategies so all learners finish their programs and earn a valuable credential.

You can learn more about MIHEART and the Total Talent agenda at http://www.micollegeaccess.org/advocacy/miheart


Author: Brandy Johnson, Executive Director, Michigan College Access Network 




Author: John Austin, Director of the Michigan Economic Center, Former President of Michigan State Board of Education





Posted: Nov. 9, 2018

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