Who Encouraged Who?

Steve Reed
K12 Operations Program Coordinator

Michael appeared isolated from his peers. I suspected that it may be due to being over-weight, lacking good physical hygiene, or acting more adult like than many of the other high school students his age. He was friendly to me, as the facilitator of the Early College Career Seminar, and I sensed that he needed my friendship to help compensate for not relating very well to fellow students.

Michael’s zeal for politics and learning, made him an ideal candidate for the Early College program, and it wasn’t long before Michael was credentialed out to take full-time college classes at LCC. For his volunteer service requirement, Michael became a state legislative aid in the capital building downtown. I was not too surprised, yet very proud, when at 19, Michael conducted a campaign and ran for a seat on the township board in his community. Though not winning the seat, the experience whet Michael’s appetite to be civically engaged and make a difference.

Michael and I talked about his transfer to a college or university after completing an associate degree at LCC, and when Michael received a scholarship from a liberal arts college, he came in to share the experience. Two huge obstacles would stand in Michael’s way – his mother’s incapacitation from an aneurism and brain surgery and the fact that his parents owed the IRS and had not filed their taxes for the previous year. His parent’s financial struggle and failure to file taxes limited Michael’s ability to file the FAFSA and secure financial aid. I encouraged him to explain to his parents how they needed to settle with the IRS and complete the FAFSA, so he could continue his education. Too my delight, this was accomplished in time for Michael to enter his chosen transfer college the next fall.

Michael quickly became involved on a student leadership team, which included working with the college president as a student representative for recruitment and retention. He participated in the campus ministry, baked and distributed cookies for student activities, settled on accounting as a major, and appeared really happy with his peers and college choice.

Michael has grown academically and socially, and is using his talents to serve others. He offered to come back to LCC and support new students in the Early College program when he is not in college. What a privilege we have, as instructors in the community college, to partner with students in their success!