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I began working with Public Allies in the summer of 2017, just after graduating high school. A close friend of mine was already participating in the program and I admired how she was taking control of her life. I applied because I wished for a similar experience.
After the interview process, I was placed at the Arizona Commission for Post-Secondary Education (ACPE), which ironically, was my least desired match. The ACPE was my least favorite organization choice because it was out of my comfort zone. I prefer hands-on work; I did not want to work at a computer all day. However, I joined Public Allies to further develop my professional “real-world” skills; so inevitably, I was placed at the ACPE. My position title was College and Career Goal Arizona Communications and Volunteer Specialist. My roles included supporting the College and Career Goal Arizona (C2GA) programs as well as assisting the other in-house programs.
The College and Career Goal Arizona campaign was three-fold in its approach of supporting the post-secondary experience. The first step in this initiative is the Arizona College Application Campaign (AzCAC) which focuses on ensuring all eligible students complete and submit at least one postsecondary application during their high schools college application event. The second initiative is College Goal FAF$A (CGF), which supports students and families as they complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The third initiative is FAF$A Finish Line, which collects school-specific data on students’ FAFSA Application status.
The ACPE concentrates the C2GA campaign programs among Title I high schools. Title I schools are local educational agencies and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families, which receive federal financial assistance to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. The idea is that most youth living in poverty will be first generation college students, need federal financial assistance, and/or are lacking the resources to start the post-secondary process. The C2GA programs are truly important because they provide students with tools, resources and professional assistance when applying for post-secondary opportunities.
Working within these campaigns, assisting the youth of Arizona and communicating with post-secondary partners has expanded my view on public education. I have always understood the financial importance of attending a post-secondary institution, now I want to not only advocate for a college-going community, but also show the youth how to make it a reality for themselves.
Hana Burris was part of Public Allies' Class 12. Hanna was placed as a College and Career Goal Communication and Volunteer Specialist at The Arizona Commission for Post-Secondary Education. Public Allies Arizona is a 10-month apprenticeship program designed to develop the next generation of civic leaders.