Reflections of a Community College Program Coordinator

by Freidricka Camille, Community College and Internship Programs Coordinator
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

With the fall weather in full swing, it is hard to believe that it has been nearly a month since I started office hours at Montgomery College in Rockville. I have “met” and communicated with a number of students via phone and email over the summer, but nothing compares to getting to know each other in person. Thus, I am excited to finally be on campus and for the opportunity to have consistent face time with the students.

Ever since my first day, I have been met with a truly warm welcome, friendliness, and a genuine openness. Many of the students have been a part of AALEAD since middle school and/or high school, and they were quick to share stories why they got involved back in the day, why they stayed, and the impact AALEAD has had on their lives. It is clear to me that students continue to see AALEAD as a safe space to learn, have fun, to connect with others, and to be a part of a community that has had a transformational impact in their lives.

The topics we discuss at office hours range anywhere from the passion and inspiration that drives college students to pursue certain majors, feelings of uncertainty in finding employment opportunities in their chosen field of study, the challenges of balancing a full course load while working to pay off student loans, to a full review of the newest bubble tea cafes in the area.

One of the more recent student interactions I had involved a student who is currently majoring in public health. While she greatly enjoys her public health classes and reading case studies of public health initiatives, she is not really sure how to go about getting a job in public health and what type of work she would be doing in public health. I vividly remember the student excitedly sharing all of the possibilities in her field of study with equal enthusiasm and uncertainty of which path to choose. I quickly recognized that the student had great vision, and needed some support exploring her career opportunities. What originally started off as mutually sharing career aspirations turned into an hour and a half of identifying strategies in career exploration, then creating SMART goals and action steps to support that exploration. One of the SMART goals the student came up with was to have informational interviews with public health professionals, and together we identified action steps for her to achieve that goal.  At the end of office hours, the student left with greater confidence, purpose and direction in navigating her career path.

It is a very rewarding and humbling opportunity to be a part of our students’ journey at an exciting time of greater independence, exploration, and self-discovery.

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