My daily work at Sallie Mae allows me to interact with college, university and high school staff who are truly motivated to help students realize their dream of higher education. Periodically, I have the opportunity to work directly with students which is really fun and motivating for me as well.
This June, I volunteered for my first IACAC Motivate Me conference, hosted by Dominican University. This is a one-day conference designed to inform, inspire, and empower students from Chicago area high schools. Students engage with college counseling and higher education professionals whose goal is to strengthen the students’ focus toward the future – specifically successful completion of high school and pursuit and completion of higher education.
Forty-two freshmen and sophomore students from 19 different high schools started arriving around 8am (on a Saturday!). I spoke with a few parents who were so thankful for this experience for their daughter or son. Some students looked a little apprehensive, not sure what they were in for. After a keynote speaker and an energizing ice breaker, students were able to choose from various college awareness sessions throughout the day. Topics ranged from College Success 101, Navigating Life’s Tough Choices and College Misconceptions which were great to help attendees start thinking about their future. They were eager to hear more! I personally was thrilled to have a few students ask me for directions to the Financial Literacy presentation.
Another highlight of the day was the College Fair where over 30 colleges and universities were represented. Once they received a brief introduction, students were able to ask questions and learn more about each of these schools. The atrium was full of energy and excitement!
All in all, it was a great day for everyone who attended. You could feel the enthusiasm building throughout the day for students, presenters and IACAC volunteers. By the end of the conference, students left with increased awareness of the possibilities of higher education, contacts at different types of institutions and of course, new friends. This was a motivating day for everyone!