"I have a responsibility to pay it forward"
Montavius Jones, Milwaukee Donor
COLLEGE POSSIBLE student alum Montavius Jones reached a remarkable milestone. A 2010 graduate of Milwaukee School of Languages and 2015 Marquette University alumnus, Montavius is grateful for the impact College Possible has had on his life. That’s why, in 2016, he became the first Milwaukee donor who is a student alum of our program.
“College Possible got me to where I am today,” Montavius said. “If I can help another kid realize their dream and get some of those obstacles out of the way, I have a responsibility to pay it forward.”
In high school, Montavius benefitted from the extensive ACT preparation College Possible provides and worked hard to achieve a good score. This score, along with his strong application, got him an incredibly generous scholarship to Marquette University through their Educational Opportunity Program.
At Marquette, he was admitted into the business school and studied commercial real estate. He now works for the City of Milwaukee as an Economic Development Specialist.
An introduction at College Possible’s Dream Big Dinner helped Montavius get connected with an internship at one of Milwaukee’s business improvement districts. That connection changed Montavius’ career trajectory.
“I don’t think I would have this job without the experience and qualifications I got from working at the business improvement district,” said Montavius.
Montavius enjoys his work with the Department of City Development and the opportunity it provides for him to give back to his city.
“I want my work to be for Milwaukee,” he said. “I want to better my community. I want people who come here or go to school here to have a reason to stay here. I want to help improve the lives of people who already live here, no matter what their educational attainment or socioeconomic status is. I want to make a better Milwaukee for everyone.”
Montavius is a young leader with a bright future. Though his hard work and persistence got him to the place he is today, he says he couldn’t have done it without the help and support of College Possible.
“It’s a great program,” he said. “College Possible wants to make sure that you don’t just get to college but you finish college. It really helps people and it changes lives. It changed my life.”
"I know the difference it makes to a young person"
Susan Calmenson, Minnesota Donor
SUSAN CALMENSON'S career in higher education began in the financial aid office at Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) where she fell in love with her role helping students achieve their college dreams. She found nothing more rewarding than meeting students at orientation weekend, supporting them during their years at MCAD and then watching them walk down the aisle at commencement.
“Being able to spend my career helping students through the transformative experience of college was a real privilege,” said Susan.
Susan first learned about College Possible while at MCAD.
“It was eye-opening to see the difficulties students from low-income families had in terms of being able to complete their degrees, in spite of the tremendous sacrifices that they and their families made,” she said.
For this reason, Susan knew right away that College Possible was going to be an important resource to many young people dreaming of earning a college degree.
After more than 20 years in higher education, Susan left her position as VP of Student Affairs at MCAD to run her family foundation. She realized that, in her new role, her focus could change from helping students individually to supporting organizations like College Possible that were committed to helping students gain access to a college education.
Susan appreciates the structure, guidance, and support College Possible provides students, along with the organization’s partnership with AmeriCorps, the commitment of the staff, and the focus on removing barriers to attending college.
“For me, giving to College Possible was an easy decision!” said Susan. “I know the difference it makes to a young person to have someone believe in them and be willing to help them achieve their dreams.”
"THE EFFECT OF COLLEGE POSSIBLE IS A GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING"
Dawn Hammel, Omaha Donor
GROWING UP, Dawn Hammel would have benefited from College Possible. Dawn’s mother knew how challenging it was to provide for her family without a college degree and she wanted better for her daughter. With her mother’s encouragement, Dawn approached the journey to college as a first-generation student with a determination to succeed.
Today Dawn, a volunteer technology teacher at Do Space, and her husband Jim, the Clinical Service Chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, support the work of College Possible Omaha.
“We recognize that College Possible provides support for young people who are smart, capable, and ambitious but who need help to navigate through the college application process and get a good start,” Dawn said. “College Possible has designed a winning strategy that has a fantastic success rate.”
Together with College Possible’s generous donors, Dawn and Jim help support over 1,600 students in the Omaha metro area. Dawn hopes they’ll experience the benefits of college that were so important to her success.
“College teaches critical thinking, writing, organization, and expression,” Dawn said. “The effect of College Possible is a gift that keeps on giving: educated parents become better mentors for their own children. Educated citizens make Omaha a better community for us all. That’s the kind of organization we want to support.”
"You can have the smarts...but you also need to have the information"
Joseph Anthony and Heidi Yorkshire, Portland Donors
COLLEGE POSSIBLE PORTLAND is fortunate to have a community of supporters who are passionate about education access and equity—supporters like Joseph Anthony and Heidi Yorkshire—who realize the importance of ending the degree divide.
“Higher education today is still largely segregated by economic class,” Joseph said. “There's our challenge.”
Coming from a blue-collar family and being a first generation college student, Joseph understands the barriers many low-income students still face today.
“You can have the smarts, you can have the grades, but you also need to have the information about where you could go and how it might get paid for,” Joseph said. “When I was in high school, information about colleges and the financial aid process was rudimentary at best. I probably spent more time trying to figure out how I might be able to pay for college than I did actually applying to schools.”
Joseph and Heidi believe that giving students access to important information they need is the first step in creating more college graduates and shifting the paradigm for low-income students. They also know College Possible coaches work hard every day to accomplish this goal.
We are grateful for Joseph and Heidi’s sustaining support as we continue to serve low-income students across Oregon. Thank you for helping make college possible!