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Author: Samantha Jenkins, First-Year Adviser Serving Mount Airy High School and North Surry High School.

Over 600 advisers from across the country gathered in Fort Worth, Texas for the 2017 College Advising Corps Summit the week of December 4th.  As a first year adviser, I had absolutely no idea what I was in for but was so excited to reconnect with my fellow Carolina College Advising Corps advisers.

Our first full day at the Adviser Summit was packed with excitement and presentations. We not only heard from our founder and CEO, Nicole Hurd, as she welcome us to Texas, but we also heard from each other throughout the day. Advisers had the opportunity to attend different adviser-led sessions that interested them. I chose to attend an adviser-led session where I heard from others who are serving in rural areas about their strategies and best practices. As an adviser currently serving in two schools within a rural community, I loved being able to hear stories and exchange ideas with other advisers who have had similar experiences in other rural communities across the United States.

Daveed Diggs was our surprise guest during lunch on Tuesday. You may know him as a Hamilton superstar, but he spoke honestly about the non-linear path his career has taken. I feel like this conversation rang true for the advisers in the room that are just starting out on their paths towards 600 amazing futures. He also spoke to us about the importance of encouraging our students to be their true selves, saying, “Just being you is a revolutionary act”. Additionally, he shared great insight on how to deal with the haters out there. Tuesday night, the TCU Corps hosted all of us at the famous Stockyards for dinner. After one of the local (and absolutely amazing) high school drumlines performed, it was announced that every single student on the stage had received at least one full ride scholarship offer.

Wednesday was equally packed with events and speakers. We heard from a panel that included two of the very first University of Virginia advisers. Though these panelists all took different routes after their time serving as college advisers, they discussed how the skills they developed during their time with the College Advising Corps have helped them pursue their passions throughout their careers.

All in all, the summit was a whirlwind of action, information, and feels. It was informative to learn different strategies and tools taught to us in the different workshops; however, much of my inspiration came from talking to other advisers about their experiences and learning about the schools, communities and students that they serve. The Adviser Summit made the College Advising Corps seem more real and connected to me. Before the Adviser Summit, I know that there were advisers serving all over the country, but seeing 600+ motivated advisers all together reminded me that I’m not alone in this work. It was incredible to see how an organization that started with just 14 eager college advisers in Virginia has grown to over 600 advisers serving thousands of students across the nation in their journey towards higher education.

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