Passion born at Ripon bears fruit in College Possible mentorship
Helping students achieve their dream of a college education is the focus of Jenelle Simon ’15 of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since August 2016, Simon has worked as an Americorps member with College Possible, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making “college admission and success possible for low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support.”
At Ripon, Simon majored in sociology and anthropology. Simon initially learned about College Possible through her Alpha Chi Omega sorority sister Amy Browender ’13. She describes College Possible as a “nonprofit, pre-college program.” She started as a junior coach at Milwaukee High School of the Arts, where she worked with 40 students on ACT preparation. She now works with those same students as a senior coach who helps them send all necessary materials to colleges with the goal to receive acceptance letters.
“I work primarily with students of color, and over the past year and a half I have seen each of them grow into independent and mature individuals,” Simon says. “Each of them will be attending college, and I am so proud of them and cannot wait to see what they will accomplish in their futures.”
Simon’s work creates a streamlined process to college graduation for students who otherwise struggle with applications. College Possible connects low-income students with campus visits, ACT preparation and support in applying for school and financial aid. After a student enters college, they are connected with another coach who aids them and encourages them to stay on track to graduation.
“I strongly believe that each of the students we work with has the power within themselves to be successful and graduate college,” she says. “With that being said, not all of them realize the potential they have within, and as coaches we are there to help them find it.”
College Possible’s site cities are Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee, Omaha, Chicago, Philadelphia and Portland and looks for recent college graduates to fill various AmeriCorps positions. Simon believes everyone should volunteer for something at least once in their life. “It wasn’t until I was in college that I really enjoyed volunteer work and realized that I wanted to be helping people in some way for the rest of my life,” she says.
“Before I became involved with College Possible, I rarely thought about our education system. Now it consumes most of my thoughts, and I truly believe that people should try to get involved in their local school district in some capacity.”
Dakota Marlega ’21