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Author: Imani Burwell, first-year adviser serving Warren County High School and Warren New Tech High School

Last week, all 57 Carolina College Advising Corps advisers returned to our second home; Chapel Hill. We used our two-day Mid-Year Training to recuperate, reconnect, relearn, and remember how important our work is. With this reunion falling on the eve of Valentine’s Day, we decided to celebrate love in all its forms.

On our first day back, we were welcomed with Valentine’s Day goodie bags and cards we could use to show our appreciation for one another. We also had a few special guests in the building. First, Craig Robinson, CPO of the National College Advising Corps, explained his journey into the Advising Corps and how his experience as a first-generation college student has informed his work. Craig also explained how his love of family continues to motivate him in this position. Our keynote speaker was Professor Gene Nichol. Professor Nichol teaches constitutional law at the UNC School of Law and serves as Director of the NC Poverty Research Fund. He expressed to us how much our service really matters. Nichol told us that as advisers, we are field agents for the UNC System cause; that of providing equal educational opportunity to all North Carolina children regardless of race, class, gender, or background. Nichol stated that “the cure to poverty is access to the best education for the high and the low.”

For the remainder of our day, we focused on preparing for the second semester. Presentations included interpreting financial aid awards, transition programming, engaging underclassmen, College Decision Day, and the UNC Summer Bridge program. After hearing from both current advisers and former advisers, I now feel confident that I can tackle this second semester without any issues. The training sessions helped me brainstorm new ideas that I think all of my students will benefit from.

After such an informative day, we got some time to relax. We enjoyed great southern food and cheered on our Tar Heels against Notre Dame. This was also a great time to reconnect with one another. I got to learn more about what other first-year advisers have experienced and are looking forward to, what our second-year advisers plan to do next year, and all about our amazing new team member, Chelsea Gary!

During our second day, we heard from first-year adviser, Abigail Jaimes, who has created resources to aid us in serving students who are undocumented or recipients of DACA. We also heard from the Summer Melt Team that is working to develop initiatives to keep graduates motivated over the summer as they matriculate into college. Lastly, we focused inward. Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Mitzy Gonzalez, presented to us about loving ourselves. She noted that self-care is the new trend on social media and it is very important, but “if we don’t start with self-love, then self-care is just a Band-Aid.” Mitzy prompted us to watch the TED talk, “Radical Self-Love” in which Caira Lee shares the steps to truly loving one’s self. Afterwards, we reflected on the video and entered into a time of sharing with one another which only brought us closer.

After the non-returning advisers departed for the Meet and Greet, returning advisers met with Sheena Jacobs from University Career Services. Sheena challenged us to start thinking about what’s next for us after the Corps and what we can do now to make sure that transition is successful. Lastly, we spent some time with Assistant Program Director Emily Simpson reflecting on our first semesters and goals moving forward.

All in all, this may have been my best Valentine’s Day Eve, yet. Love is always in the air when spending time with the Carolina College Advising Corps!

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