On Friday, Nov. 21, Rockingham Country High School graciously hosted a celebration of the Carolina College Advising Corps, with UNC Chancellor Carol Folt presiding over the meeting. Advisers expressed their gratitude for being welcomed into the school community.
Located in Reidsville, North Carolina, the school hosted local officials, legislators, advisers, and students, all of whom came together to reflect on the value that the UNC-Chapel Hill-based Carolina College Advising Corps brings to the area.
Funded by grants and private gifts and led by Yolanda Keith with assistance from Eric Smith and Meredith Allred, the Corps places advisers in schools in counties with heavy populations of low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students. The Carolina Corps was honored to be joined at the event by three legislators who have served as advocates for college access work: longtime U.S. Congressional Representative Howard Coble, N.C. Senator Phil Berger, and N.C. Representative Bert Jones.
The Chancellor opened the event by remembering how impressed she was by the students she met as she walked into the high school assembly room during her first visit here in 2013. “You’re the reason we’re here!” she said to the 20 high school seniors who gathered for the event. She then thanked each legislator individually for their support of the Corps and education in general. “The Corps brings a special magic,” she said, “because it builds on advisers who are young graduates and who go to schools and use their amazing energy to reach out to students.”
Stephen Farmer, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions spoke next, commending the numerous local officials for their support of the Corps which has served 5,000 area high school students since its humble beginnings in 2007. “We’re here,” he said, “because of the generosity of the people of Rockingham County.” Today the Corps serves 59 high schools (with 42 advisers) across the state. Local officials in attendance included Rodney Shotwell, Superintendent, Rockingham County Schools (and 2015 N.C. Superintendent of the Year); Richie Weaver, Principal, Rockingham County High School; Elliot Miller, Principal, Reidsville High School; Elaine McCollum, Board Member, Rockingham County Board of Education; William Aiken, Interim President, Rockingham Community College; and Marilyn Payne, Executive Director, Rockingham County Education Foundation.
Due to strong local support, the Carolina Corps is fortunate that both Rockingham County High School and Reidsville High School are served by just one adviser each (Madeline Merrill and Gloria Schoeberle, respectively). This means that the students served receive even more individual attention as they make plans after high school. During the roundtable discussion, Ms. Merrill spoke movingly about her work with local high school students to help them prepare for and apply to college. “We do our collective best to ensure these students are cared for and to help their dreams come true,” she said. Several Rockingham High School seniors spoke next, giving Ms. Merrill high marks for her energy and the great care she gives to her students.
Adviser Warche K. Downing of Guilford County spoke on Fox 8 News about his advice for students seeking scholarships. As a Gates Millenium Scholar and an adviser with the Carolina Corps, Mr. Downing is eager to share insights with his students and families in his community.
The Carolina College Advising Corps helps low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students find their way to colleges that will serve them well. By providing well-trained, enthusiastic advisers who are close in age and circumstance to the students they serve, the program aims to increase college-going rates at partner high schools across North Carolina.
We recruit advisers who are recent graduates of partner colleges/universities. This allows them to more easily develop relationships with students and serve as both peers as well as role models.
Our advisers work in partnership with teachers, counselors and administrators, as an additional staff member whose focus is singularly on improving the school’s college-going culture and ensuring that students apply to and enroll in colleges where they will succeed.
Advisers focus on helping students to identify and apply to post-secondary programs that will best serve them both academically and socially, thus increasing the likelihood that these students will persist to earn their degrees.