NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee is leading the nation when it comes to making college accessible with more students applying for financial incentives than any other state.
Tennessee Achieves has been working to make sure everyone who wants to go to college can, but right now, they’re asking for volunteers.
“Ever since I was little, I wanted to do something with kids because I know I have a love and compassion to teach,” said rising college freshman Abigail Sorrell.
Sorrell will start her college journey to become a teacher, but for a while, she didn’t think that would happen.
“I was thinking of going to college, and I didn’t have any money to do that so I looked into this Tennessee Promise program,” said Sorrell.
Because of Tennessee Promise, students like Abigail can fill these classrooms despite financial challenges, but there are requirements and deadlines they need to know about. That’s where mentors with Tennessee Achieves come in.
“You’re helping them in a very daunting time where there are simple questions most of the time, but they can keep them from continuing,” said mentor Amy New.
New loves seeing her partners progress.
“It is absolutely rewarding. You are lending a hand to a student. You are helping them make their dreams goals and achieve more than they ever thought was possible,” said New.
For just an hour a month, mentors check in on students to provide encouragement, answer questions, and remind them of upcoming deadlines.
“A lot of the things our students and mentors work on are not really classroom related, it’s not financial aid related, it’s a lot of those things going on in our students’ personal lives outside the classroom that can cause some problems,” said Graham Thomas with Tennessee Achieves.
The group tries to make it easy for mentors by hosting a training session in the fall to show them what college is like in 2018, and send mentors updates monthly on things they should check in with their partners about.
In the spring, mentors and high school seniors will be partnered, and they’ll stay together for a year.
“They’re that person they can call or text, they can go to when they don’t know that next step or they get a letter from financial aid and they don’t know what it means,” said Thomas.
TN Archive’s mentorship program still needs 8,000 more volunteers to sign up this year.
If you’re interested in signing up please visit Tennessee Achieves online to learn more.