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Climbing Together with Career Forward at ACC

Jaime Treadwell, ACC Career Forward Advisor

Why does higher education seem like a mountain? What does support look like when you enroll? Who issues the parka and ice hooks? Here at ACC, we understand what it takes to climb together in higher education. We know what it takes to feel supported and successful in your studies, and when COVID consumed our lives we were innovative in figuring out our next level of support. At ACC, we are helping individuals impacted by COVID and connecting them to Career Forward. With 3 semesters left in the Career Forward program, I, Jaime Treadwell, am elated to have the opportunity to share the work I have been doing here at ACC.

First, I want to explain how Career Forward even came to fruition. In the beginning, March 2020 that is, our College and Foundation were noticing that there were some pathways that were not able to shift to remote learning. This is where the concern of recruitment and retention of our students began and led to a call-to-action of our Community, County, and State. “Who else is thinking about this?” and “What can we do proactively in a ‘Panini’?” Colorado Department of Higher Education and Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative answered the call. COSI came to the table with structure and insight of the programming needed to build a student support program and offered additional supports to create my role as a Navigator / Coach to the program.

When connecting with students at ACC via Career Forward, I can enhance the climb that is Higher Education. I pack on support, services from internal and external partners, connections to the right folks which alleviates the unknown of who helps and where do I go next. A few students I work with have been out of school since high school—that’s well over 20 years for some of them. I helped one student by walking their class route prior to classes starting and keeping an open-door policy for the first few weeks of their first semester; that student has one more class left in Fall 2022 and a 3.00 GPA—that’s what success looks like, right? Equally, I offer time to my students to soundboard their hard moments and to celebrate their successes—Another student in Career Forward is also active on Student Government, 2 Career Forward Students hold high offices in the National Society of Leadership and Success, another has earned awards for excellence in their grades, since they reduced their work hours thanks to Career Forward support. These students are active and motivated without me, yet the financial and holistic support given is the nudge they have been needing to go further!

At the helm of Career Forward, I help identify adult students with COVID impacts related to economic loss who also express motivations to rapidly complete their chosen studies at ACC before the Spring 2023 semester ends. Career Forward has obtained local and national recognition: a Colorado Public Radio News Feature, 2 Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative Commercials to highlight my role and a Student Success story, and recently Research For Action has chosen to come visit ACCs Main and Sturm Campus on account of the work I am doing for our ACC Students. It’s exhilarating and humbling to be doing this work at ACC and with adult-learners overall.

Career Forward is focused on supporting the adult learners of ACC’s campuses. Currently, Career Forward is supporting 178 students at ACC; their ages range from 20-75 yrs old with an average age of 38, and their interests in ACC Pathways are equally vast. Through Career Forward, I offer a scholarship that ranges from $1300-$2600 each semester that participants are working towards a completion; I offer 1:1 time and support to build rapport and genuinely validate their experience; and I provide those connections to community through applicable skill workshops each semester. Literally, students can lean in, and I will meet them there. Who wouldn’t want to climb with me?

Career Forward offers an array of benefits and only 3 expectations once you are admitted into the program to ensure you are successful and supported at ACC. This programs success is measured by the number of completions from participants, and our goal is 300 by Spring 2023—currently, we are estimating at 222 from 178 participants by end of Spring 2023. I know that my students are averaging about 3 semesters amounting up to $4500, which is what success can look like here at ACC; I am looking forward to seeing you join this #ClimbTogether.