In my undergraduate classes at UNC Kenan-Flagler, we talked a lot about opportunity. We were continually evaluating the opportunity to invest in a company, expand to a new market or reach a new target market. And in my sustainable business and social entrepreneurship class, we studied people who found innovative and profitable solutions to social problems.
UNC Kenan-Flagler taught me to seek out opportunity, and my search led me to forty seniors at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon. I currently serve as an AmeriCorps member with College Possible, a college access and success program for low-income students. As a high school coach, I assist seniors as they apply to college and find ways to finance their education. My days are filled with editing essays, polishing resumes, researching colleges and guiding my students through college and scholarship applications. The things I do every day are part of a larger movement to ensure that every student who wants to go to college has the opportunity, regardless of income.
The fact is, our current method of educating our citizens is not sustainable. From now until 2018, the U.S. economy will experience a shortage of 300,000 college graduates each year, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. I was drawn to College Possible because it has found a low-cost and highly effective solution to this problem. Our organization taps into the large pool of low-income students who are capable of attending college but could use help navigating the overwhelming and confusing world of higher education. By using recent college graduates who serve as AmeriCorps members, College Possible is able to serve thousands of low-income students every year for very little cost. More college graduates leads to more money paid in taxes, lower unemployment rates, higher civic engagement and healthier citizens.
On a more personal level, I chose to serve two years with College Possible because I see what an incredible opportunity it is to invest in these students. They continue to amaze me with their determination and resilience. They seek out help when they need it, set goals and refuse to let their financial circumstances or others’ doubts determine their futures. I continue to talk about opportunity every day – although now it is less about profit margins and more about majors, studying abroad and career options. My students deserve the opportunity to earn a college degree, and I cannot wait to see the incredible things they will go on to do.
By Briana Falduti (BSBA ’13)