Meet Sloane Murray, Iowa College Aid’s AmeriCorps VISTA at Southeastern Community College. Sloane comes to us from Conshohocken, Pennsylvania and is excited to help students realize their dreams of a college education. Sloane has this to say about his journey to get here.
When I finished school at Immaculata University in 2012, I realized that I was no longer interested in a career in my chosen field and I decided to pursue an MBA in management. I knew that I had to build on my communication skills if I wanted to enter into a leadership role in business, but the problem was finding the right opportunity.
Just a few months ago I was studying to get my insurance license and came up a few points short of passing. I decided that it wasn’t the path for me and was frustrated, wondering where I should go from there. In that same week, my best friend told me about AmeriCorps, the opportunities available and how well he was doing in his position. I filled out applications all over the country and interviewed for my current AmeriCorps position three days later. I was offered the position a total of 5 days after applying! I loved that the position was in Iowa seeing as I had been longing for a change of scenery and a fresh start since graduation.
Although there have been plenty of people on my mom’s side of the family with bachelor’s degrees, I was still considered a first-generation college graduate as there had never been a Murray who had finished college. The fact that I had the opportunity to be the first was a huge motivator for me. I also felt like I had a responsibility to show other Murrays that college is possible. My mantra when I graduated was, “I don’t do this just for me, I do it for my family”.
The VISTA position means a lot to me because I was a student who struggled for five years trying to get a bachelor’s degree and I remember every little thing I had to go through to get it. My mother recently asked me if I remember talking about not wanting to go to school on some days, because every time I would speak in class or do a presentation the students in class would laugh and smile at me. I told her that I didn’t forget. I will never forget any of the financial or academic hardships that slowed down my process of getting a degree. And how I refused to allow any of the obstacles that I faced, no matter how big or small, stop me from achieving my goal.
Being a College Access Specialist enables me to be an advocate for education and college success, and I have the opportunity to show people who are struggling how to be successful in college and that getting to where they want to be is possible. Although there are things that can slow the process down for students, I believe that the only thing that can stop them completely from getting to where they want to be with education is themselves. I also see this as an opportunity for professional development. It’s hard for me to think about where I will end up after my year because I know that the window of opportunity will be great!