Octavia Brown ‘15 has returned to her alma mater to share her experience and knowledge as the new Countdown to College (C2C) coordinator for the First Generation Initiative (FGI) at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Octavia is excited about her new position. Octavia feels that she has a lot to bring to the program. She feels that SMUMN has offered her a lot and coming back to campus is a testament to the education that she received here. Octavia is invested in the C2C program and the university as a whole. She knows that this position is a great opportunity for her to grow.
“I honestly never thought about coming back to SMUMN. I am really happy the opportunity presented itself and I was able to accept this position to come back and continue doing the work I truly enjoy.” During her senior year at SMUMN a senior profile story was done about Octavia and she stated, “If it was not for this scholarship, I would not be standing before you today as a strong African-American young woman with goals and ambition. This scholarship gives me, and other underrepresented students who are financially struggling, a chance of making a name for ourselves. For me it has been a way out of no way.”
Octavia will be coordinating the two week summer program for C2C. The first two weeks are for rising 11th and 12th graders (approx. 45 students), and the last two weeks are rising 9th and 10th graders (approx. 50 students). “The transition from 8th grade to high school for students is very unique. Many changes are ahead for them and that period is such an exciting, yet scary time in their lives because they are constantly growing and don’t know what’s next to come. The great thing about this program (C2C) is that not only are our counselors FG scholars, but many of them are C2C graduates and they have walked this same path.” According to Octavia she feels that she has built and established trust with the students since she worked for C2C the previous four years as a camp counselor,“This will be very beneficial as far as using my experience as a scholar to help educate the current scholars as well as future scholars.”
Throughout the academic year, Octavia will be advising and supporting the C2C high school students to ensure their success. She will also be working with the seniors to apply to universities. We hope some will attend SMUMN as first generation scholars (what FGI students are referred to). “Being a first generation scholar that has already graduated I have the experience of what these students are going through. It is easier for me to establish a relationship of trust. That trust is a bond so they can feel more comfortable talking to me about certain things since I have been a scholar.”
The First Generation Initiative welcomes Octavia to the staff, and looks forward to working alongside her to provide services to prospective first generation students.