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First Student and…I am Back!...

It was a while since I matched students with volunteer tutors. This was a part of what I did in my past job as a literacy program coordinator from November 2002 to March 2015.

By working with hundreds of students in Waukesha County with a variety of educational and personal literacy goals, my job was creating the best possible learning environment for each student.

But for once, this is going to be a bit about me. I cannot help thinking as I am sitting in the Butler Library, four months later, with a tutor and a student that…


Not to brag, but people have always commented on how well I do matches.

And I just honestly hated hearing this.

I felt this was a patronizing way of telling me I could not do anything else (public relations, fund raising, grant writing, etc.). I always felt that ANYONE can do a match. I mean, how hard is it?

But then I got to thinking. I have often commented on tasks other people do well, and they will say, “It is no big deal.”

I bet a plumber will say, Anyone can fix that drain.

Or a doctor will say, Anyone can read that X-ray.

Or a Certified Nursing Assistant will say, Anyone can take a pulse.

Or a fast food cashier will say, Anyone can manage multiple orders.

When one is really good at something, that skill probably seems easy.

Whether or not, I am good at matches or not, I loved doing them! Anytime I see anyone (either professional or personal), I imagine what kind of student he or she would work well with.

When I was at the Butler Library briefing the tutor about the student’s background and waiting for the student to meet us in the community room, I was feeling a tad bit emotional. Four months was just too long, and finally….


Now about College STILL Achievable’s first student…

Our FIRST student is one who fits perfectly with our model. As she started talking, I just thought, she is what College STILL Achievable is all about.

“I was scared of failure, and I was scared I would not understand the material…With all the responsibilities of an adult, I wanted to help my children and go back to school,” she explained.

She worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for eleven years. She is a hands on learner, which means she would be a great nurse, but getting there (2-4 years of an academic program) is what is holding her back.

She struggled with her math skills, which she was aware of this difficulty, and had some reading challenges, which she was not aware of until she completed an academic assessment. She applied for a university that tailors towards working adults to study nursing.

She. Did Not. Get In.

This is my take of her situation:

She just learns differently and did not do that well in high school. When she graduated high school, she felt she was done with school. She then worked. Did well at her job. Had Kids. And her life moved on.

Yet, as her kids started growing up, she wanted to provide better for her kids. She wanted more money, to be able to help them with their homework, and to show her kids that she can succeed.

Being a nurse seems appealing since she has done a lot of this work as a Certified Nursing Assistant.

She knows she can do it.

She began researching and applying for schools. Everything was fine until she took an assessment.

A test to tell her if she has the literacy skills to make it as a nursing student.

She got declined.

So what kind of confidence will she have to apply anyplace else? Where can she get the help? Will she want to try another school, when she already did not get into this one?

So she felt like she failed, and the goal is still there. Burning a fire within her.

And she feels no one can help.

Her story is typical of about 1,000 literacy students I worked with in the last twelve years.

This is why we need to recruit students like her. By partnering with healthcare facilities and retirement homes and letting community members realize what we do, we can help get more talented people like her to become nurses.

By providing them tutors and mentors to be successful.

“I feel my tutor will help me gradually get to the level to get back to school,” College Still Achievable’s first student said.

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