My name is Hope Dokho and I have been very fortunate to serve with Oakland University (OU) and Auburn Hills United College Access Network. MY role at OU is within the realm of academic service learning. I work towards helping faculty integrate a service component into their course by matching them with a community partner that has a specific need relevant to the class curriculum. Promoting service learning and exploring the community around OU has been eye-opening and interesting! I’m excited to work with the university as they try to solidify a newly reestablished partnership with the city of Pontiac.
One of my biggest tasks during my year of service so far was with my community partner, Auburn Hills United College Access Network (AH UCAN). The goal of AH UCAN is to coordinate and maximize the existing services within Auburn Hills in order to increase college access for all students. The coordinator of AH UCAN and I work together with community members to assess the gaps for college access within Auburn Hills and help to fill them. We are especially focused on students who are considered the minority within their school, who are currently performing below grade level, and who have low socioeconomic status.
This year AH UCAN helped two high schools in Auburn Hills obtain volunteers and resources for College Application Week (CAW). College Application Week is a week promoted by Michigan College Access Network dedicated helping every high school senior fill out at least one college application. It is also a great time to promote higher education in general, help students discover a new career path, and answer any questions they may have about college, vocational schools, etc.
During CAW I was able to recruit volunteers from all over the Auburn Hills Community to help students fill out their applications. It was also exciting to see college-age volunteers working as mentors for the seniors. I also helped create two student panel discussions at a local alternative high school. Students at the high school were able to ask Oakland University students and an admissions counselor questions about college life and college affordability. To help motivate students and help them feel prideful about continuing their education, I collected in-kind donations in the form of merchandise from various colleges around the state. Some fellow VISTA’s were even able to help me, so thank you very much for your generosity! Hundreds of items were collected and distributed between the two high schools. Students were excited about representing their future institutions and that made me excited as well!
Next I will be working towards financial aid and awareness with the same local high schools. I hope that I can continue to see progress and success within this community!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!