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Katja Wallin - RockinghamAuthor: Katja Wallin, 2nd-Year Adviser at Rockingham County High School

Mid-Year Training was held at the perfect time this year—the first week of January! As advisers we got to come back, get rejuvenated and learn a lot of new information. When I first arrived in Chapel Hill, I immediately was taken back to my years at Carolina as an undergraduate and was excited to get that feeling that only college can give you. As the advisers trickled in it was great to catch up on stories of how Christmas’ had been and hear from our fearless leaders Yolanda and Donté. We quickly delved into our discussions of student success stories and our persistent issues in our communities.

We began the first day with productive discussions about best practices but with a twist. Our table was given prompts that had us reflect on our role as the adviser with questions like; “What makes the students like you?” One adviser thought it was her laid-back attitude and another his sense of humor. We also got to reflect on our own growth with questions like; “What do you find surprised you about yourself in this job?” I felt the start to our time at training was really set into a positive and thoughtful tone by our opening session. We finished the day with professional development from a fantastic speaker, Syrena Williams, Esq., who took us through her life and answered our many burning questions about how to be better perceived professionally and how to advance our own careers. I felt excited and empowered by this session; to see such a strong woman pushing us to be bold and create our own future. We finished the day with a family style dinner at Tobacco Road, and were greeted by a loving present representing our time at National Training.

group posing

The next day of training I felt ready to learn and ready to get back to hard work. Our morning sessions were led by Precious Barnes and Ariel Cochrane-Brown, two former advisers, who gave us everything we could need to know about Financial Aid and the FAFSA. Their presentation was exactly what I needed, with details and examples of the many complicated situations we are often presented with in our schools. This session gave me the confidence to go back to my school and conquer any FAFSA situation I saw. We then had the pleasure of eating lunch with Nicole Hurd, National Advising Corps’ Founder and Executive Director, and Steve Farmer, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions. Steve and Nicole coming by to see us put a smile on everyone’s face, but their words of encouragement made an even deeper impact. Nicole gave us more of her devotion, passion, and humility, fueling our own desires to help our students. Steve listens to advisers like everything we have to say is important and made us all feel like we were on the same team. He encouraged our table to go and be risky in our professional life, take chances, and see what happens.

We ended the day with more sessions on how to combat Summer Melt (where students who are accepted to college for various reasons do not enroll), an issue all advisers are always worried about. Through collaboration and idea circles, I got some great foundation work set. We finished training with a compliment circle that was silly, encouraging, and simply wonderful. I couldn’t have been happier with all of the games, numerous compliments, and invigorating experience I had over mid-year training and I know it has made me work even harder these past few weeks with an eye on May quickly creeping up!


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