News, Student Blog

Panel with Community Leaders

By Kacey McCoig, Health and Wellness Coordinator.

 

Last week, I organized a panel discussion for our middle and high schoolers here at Access The panelist were amazing community leaders and the students amazing future leaders. This panel discussion gave them the opportunity to ask anonymous questions that were on their mind or questions that they were too embarrassed to ask. Most of the questions revolved around relationships, saying good-bye, rejection and quite frankly, sex. Not surprising at that age…and if we’re honest…we still share some of these same questions. If I’m totally honest, I was listening closely too and reaping some of the benefits as well.

One of our panelists, Sean Sheppard, the founder of Embrace, a non-profit here in San Diego focused on mobilizing college students to volunteer and serve underserved civilian and military populations all over the country, provided an easy to remember, simple, applicable and quite possibly true guideline to keep in mind. This was the two G’s.

It went something like this: There are two kinds of people in the world: givers and get-ers. Givers are individuals who give of themselves and what they have without any attached expectation to receive in return. Get’ers make their moves in order to…you guessed it…get.

Simple enough? I thought about it. What am I? I think I’m a giver. I’ve been accused of having expectations before, however. Is it always bad to expect…something in return? I agree with Mr. Sheppard, and I think I will move forward, keeping this close to the surface and see what effect(s) it has. I will be open to the possibility that I can improve, expect less, give more and more importantly, give from a place of true compassion and nurturing care for others. I will let you know my observations.

Perhaps you may want to take on this type of self-investigation yourself. If you’re on this site, then you’re seeking something Some truth for you. Some answers to your questions, even though they may be simply food-related. I do find; however, and you will come to see this if we shall ever meet, that many of our food and lifestyle choices stem from a bit of a deeper layer of the onion. This exercise, as is the advice, is simple (Let me know if you think otherwise) and therefore one that we may benefit from trying out.

So, what about you and how does this relate to your health and wellness? Who do you give to? Receive from? Are their stipulations and how do these arrangements serve you and those around you? Who do you surround yourself with? How do you and those around receive what is being offered..or take? What are you giving to yourself? Why? Or…why not? How does this affect you and if it’s less than a positive, desirable effect, what do you want for yourself instead? I encourage you to write the answers to these questions down. You may be surprised with what you find.

That’s a good start. Once we have our answers, lets take the next step. What can change, how and where, big or little, that will serve us and those around us? How can we be givers..in the most nurturing sense of the word? And, what’s stopping us?

Remember, this is not a selfish act. It is a universal truth that we have to take care of ourselves in order to really care for anyone else. This act is actually an extremely courageous act that will positively impact those around you. This message may have transformed a bit from its original context and meaning, but I think it’s applicability is what makes it such good advice. I encourage you to apply, and see what happens.

 

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Second panel of the year organized by our Access Health & Wellness Coordinator, Kacey McCoig.

News, Student Blog

The College Program

It’s been about 12 months since I started working with Access as their College Coordinator, and in those 12 months, I’ve come to learn a lot about working with students, managing and distributing information through various channels such as newsletters, Facebook pages, word of mouth, and many others, kept notes on services we could provide our students, and more. But the overall year was filled with repeat trial and error. From my experiences with the students, I have been able to distinguish what kinds of things would truly make an impact during their time in college. And it’s important to remember when thinking about these things that a college student’s time is taken up with so much more than just studying and mastering their academics. While this may be a key factor to their success, our students’ reach is much larger than that. As an organization, Access provides our students with the necessary resources to help reach that success. By providing services through health and wellness, academics, and professional/career development, our students are able to receive support in any aspect of their college life, regardless if it’s school related or personal.

Because Access is a 12-year program, we are able to assist them throughout their time in middle school and high school, further into their college education, and even a couple of years further after their graduation. With the help of my co-workers, our college students, and my personal experience as a student in college, I’ve been able to create Access Youth Academy’s college program.

THE COLLEGE PROGRAM

In short, our students first come into the program at the start of 7th grade, go through middle school and high school with the help of our Academic Coordinator, get through college, and continue on past their graduation from their universities with a degree in their hands. Seems pretty straightforward, but there are a lot of moving pieces in between that make it all come together. Because the program adds up to being 12 years (6 years in middle school and high school, 4 years in college, and 2 years post college), we call this the “12-year promise.” This extensive amount of time with our students allows us to prepare those in Phase 1 (middle school and high school) for the years in college ahead of them.

PHASE 2 AND 3

As college coordinator, I’m specifically in charge of Phase 2 and 3 of the program. These pertain to college freshman – seniors (Phase 2), and follows college graduates two years after their graduation (Phase 3).

Starting with Phase 1, Access begins to prepare their students for college by providing tutoring and guidance in order to better their chances at succeeding in Phase 2 and 3. Guidance includes a “College Readiness” program that allows the seniors to gain a full scope of what it’s like in college, from academics to building a social life, this college readiness program allows for these seniors to be better prepared for their freshman year.

Once in college, we’re there to help make our student’s lives a bit easier. Whether this be taking the stress away from a job interview through the help of our mentors and volunteers, providing an internship opportunity for the summer, helping our students network in the professional workforce, or help develop a personal career plan, Access guides our students through the various facets of their college lives.

While in Phase 2, our mission is to maximize our student’s academic experience, increase the amount of summer opportunities available to them, and focus on building and strengthening their future careers. Once our students graduate from their universities, our focus is more on personal development, their connection to the team, and on becoming ambassadors for themselves, the people around them, and Access Youth Academy as a whole. The idea is that by the time our students graduate from college, they’ll give back to the program through various ways such as mentorships, tutoring, volunteering or many others.

With all of this in mind, I took into account all the different aspects of “the college life” and put together what we call The College Program. What we had initially thought was an amazing idea, getting first generation college students to be as prepared and successful before college (and eventually through college) is all finally a reality. After ten years of operations, our first cohorts of Access students have finally reached a long awaited milestone: graduation. This means that as of this past month in May, we officially have graduated these students onto phase 3, making them the first to graduate from their universities and moved onto the workforce, graduate school, and many others.

I’m excited to see what this position has to bring in the upcoming months.

Looking back on these past eight years that I’ve been a student at Access, and now as college coordinator for the program, it’s great seeing all my teammates whom I once practiced with reach great success.

Wishing you all the best in your futures!

Eric Malo

Access Youth Academy College Coordinator

 

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Eric (third from left), regularly puts together events for the phase 2 & 3 students when they are back in San Diego to enhance their experiences and continue to feel connected to the program. The above photo was taken from one such event, the 2015 Alumni vs Nationals Team Tournament.