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‘Oh The Places You Will Go, With Just a Little Leap!’

A bulletin board covered in pennants and other items from different colleges and universities

By HaLee Knowles, College Adviser for Wallace Rose Hill High School in Duplin County

Prior to the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year, my goal was to get Seniors proud to be excited about the college/military/workforce process.  “No one said it would be easy, you just have to believe in yourself,” I started stating when meeting one on one with any student. It could all seem so stressful at first, from making sure they are creating/revising their senior schedules, meeting graduation requirements, trying to submit college applications, FAFSA, RDS, and then maintaining coursework on top of everything — stressful and nerve racking, right?  

Well to be honest, it’s the most exciting time for me as a first-year college adviser at Wallace Rose Hill High School. The first couple of weeks are used to my advantage by meeting with these seniors and relieving some stress and anxiety to start off their senior year. I can remember how many seniors thanked me for talking to them after they got their schedules. After those days, it was almost time for school to start. I started getting my desk and work area ready, making presentations about who I was, and finally meeting and greeting the entire Class of 2022. I soon thereafter created a College Ambassador’s Club to allow students, just like them, to assist them in the process and encourage them to keep applying. The goal was to apply to more than three colleges (which happened!). 

As Oct. 18 through 22 started to approach, I was so nervous but excited at the same time. While attending WRH I never had a college adviser, nor a chance to communicate with someone about the college application process, but I made it known to my students that I would be there every step of the way and ready to leap into this experience with them. That week was just the best week of my college advising experience yet! I originally thought maybe 30 students were going to apply. I was — so wrong — and had 74 students apply! What an accomplishment and an exciting moment, if I do say so myself. 

As this year was winding down, so many students came to me excited. For what exactly, you ask? It was all about their acceptance letters from the numerous colleges and universities they were applying for, from Appalachian State to UNC Charlotte to ECU to WSSU to NCCU and Fayetteville State! Still as of this week, Jan. 18, they are still coming to me with the biggest grin on their faces to tell me where they were accepted and to state, “Ms. Knowles, you helped me in so many ways and I’m so glad you believed in me!” I am proud to give back to the community who molded me into the individual I am today, and can’t wait to lead these students to success. 

As a college adviser, I have had the opportunity to reflect on my first-year journey, and thinking about all these successful stories my students bring to me is what motivates me to keep giving more of my time. As they leave Wallace Rose Hill, I know without a doubt they understand their purpose, and that is to continue their educational journey and embrace the journey that they will endure. Also, I truly want them to understand that no piece of paper defines them and it’s important to remain true to themselves. 

Regardless, they are the Class of 2022!