Every year at our senior awards ceremony, I state “I have the best job in the world. I cannot think of anything better than having the opportunity to work with your wonderful children and help them celebrate their accomplishments.” That is what I get to do every day. Very often the students and their families reach out to thank me for all that I have done. But, it is not me that earned them admission to a university, or earned them scholarship money. They did that on their own. However, I do believe that I and all BRACE Advisors are an integral part of a student’s success. It is the teachers that give them knowledge and the guidance counselors that keep them on track and it is the BRACE Advisors that help them reach their goals. We arrange college visits for the students to learn what they are looking for in a school. We act as liaison to the military and offer ASVAB testing, which allows students to learn their natural talents. We advise the students on how and when to take college entrance exams, how and when to apply to colleges, and how to find money. We help them build and refine their resume. We critique essays. We make them aware of financial aid opportunities. The students come to us with all of the tools for success. We just teach them how to use their tools. Whether they are using these tools directly after high school, or later on in their lives, hopefully, I have given them knowledge that they can use to be successful in life after graduation.
Over my twenty plus years as a BRACE Advisor I have worked with many wonderful students. Many of these students have made a point of thanking me for what I do. I keep this “treasure chest” of thank you notes to help me “remember my why.” One of the most memorable thank you notes was from a young man who was offered admission to Harvard (and Yale, Johns Hopkins, etc.). The day after he was offered admission, I came into my office and found a card. This humble young man was thanking me for getting him into these prestigious schools. I was flabbergasted. I didn’t get him into the schools, he did. When I told him this, he said, “but without you I would not have even applied.” It’s funny. Until then, I didn’t truly realize how much my little bit of help could mean to someone.
I am not the only person who touches our student’s lives. Every person from the facilities crew, to the teacher and classroom assistants, to the secretaries, to the instructors, guidance counselors and administrators, have an impact on our students. Without all of our different roles our students would falter. I feel truly blessed to have the job that I have that allows me to have a positive impact on these young adult’s lives.
Wm. T. McFatter Technical High School