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College Completion Corps Program Allows Alumna to Support First-Gen Students, others Seeking Degrees, Certificates

PhotoMarissa Kelly

Marissa Kelly, from Ferris State University’s Office of Multicultural Student Services, is working one-on-one with students to support their pursuit of degrees and certificates, thanks to the Michigan College Access Network.

The College Completion Corps funding was provided by the Lansing-based nonprofit to Ferris and 17 community colleges and three tribal colleges across Michigan as part of the Americorps program. Kelly, a 2019 graduate of the Social Work program in the College of Arts, Sciences and Education, is pleased to have this role as a college completion coach in the OMSS.

“I feel that I have come full circle, having been a member of a MI GEAR UP cohort in Baldwin, where we had student coaches assisting us, from the sixth through twelfth grade,” Kelly said. “They stuck with us, which was a huge factor in my continuing to pursue my education after high school. I began my studies at West Shore Community College and completed my Bachelor of Science at Ferris. I am proud to be able to use those experiences in assisting current students, who benefit from advice and encouragement and are eager to learn best practices so that they can succeed academically.”

Kelly can also use her experiences as an alumna to add to the help that the College Completion Corps provides. The university selects up to 150 students to receive this counseling.

“It is helpful, knowing professional staff and faculty here, from my time as a student,” Kelly said. “My cohort includes students of color, first-generation learners, and those from low-income households. Getting them the support they need can be a big difference in their success, so they can complete their degrees and live a better life.”

Kelly, West Shore Community College’s Kalli Wahr and Grand Rapids Community College’s Jose Rodriguez are graduates of the schools they serve as College Completion Corps coaches.