Star Zetocha wishes she had the type of school counselor she intends to become one day.
“I was literally discouraged not to apply anywhere out of the ordinary when I said to the school counselor I wanted to leave the state,” recalled Zetocha, who graduated from high school in Wisconsin in 1995.
“I wish I had someone to help me, not so much to choose a career but to help me be a bit more focused in which direction I wanted to go, college-wise.”
Thanks to a partnership between Grand Valley State University, Godwin Heights Public Schools and Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), Zetocha is the first Grand Valley graduate student to serve as a college counselor at Godwin Heights High School through a school-based advising program.
MCAN supports college advising programs in partnership with 14 Michigan universities to place college graduates as college advisers in high schools.
The initiative is part of MCAN’s goal to increase the proportion of Michigan residents with college degrees or credentials by 60 percent by the year 2025.
A Guide on the Path
Zetocha, a master’s student in GVSU’s school counseling program, will gain real-world experience as she offers students at Godwin Heights first-hand information on what it’s like to go to college and how select the right one.
“When we can get resources like individuals who are professionals to come alongside us, it’s a phenomenal component,” Superintendent Bill Fetterhoff said. “Schools have gotten away from what counseling should be and what it should mean to students, and this is a large step toward helping students be prepared and understand the opportunities that exist for them in the future and for their careers.”
Zetocha will also work with school counselors, teachers and administrators to help build a college-going culture in the school building.
High school principal Chad Conklin said having a professional reach out to students and work with staff on a daily basis will help students achieve their goals for college.
“Our students believe they can go to college,” he said, “they just need help getting on the right path.”