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Talent Search alum Kelsey Stratton gives back to her hometown
Speaking with special education teacher and Talent Search alum Kelsey Stratton is nothing short of inspiring. A native of Randolph Union High School, Kelsey credits both her ability to give back to her students and her interest in education to the support VSAC gave to her as a young student.
For Kelsey, going to college was not something she took for granted.
“I come from a first-generation college family,” she shares. “No one else in my family has gone to college. Without VSAC, I would not have been prepared or informed about my options after high school. I wouldn't have had a launching pad for college.”
VSAC’s financial support gave Kelsey the ability to consider college and ultimately leave Lyndon State College (now Northern Vermont University—Lyndon campus) debt-free.
“I got out of school without taking out loans, and I don’t think that would have been possible without VSAC,” she notes. “It was truly a life-saver.”
Kelsey’s path back to Randolph Union High School as a teacher started with a course in high school that inspired her to explore careers.
“From balancing a checkbook to daily organizing and career advice, the course set us up to gain hard skills,” she explains. “One of the things we started with in the course was taking a Myers-Briggs test. It told me I should be a social worker, teacher or nurse. I was told by my advisor that I would be an excellent teacher and did some job shadowing as a result. That was the moment I realized it was the path I wanted to take.”
Kelsey now pays her support from VSAC forward as an advisor to a handful of Talent Search students.
“Now I get the opportunity to continue inspiring students interested in college,” she says. “I have my own set of students I advise, and we do a lot of planning early on in school to support them. Several of them are in the VSAC Talent Search program.”
For Kelsey, supporting her students in their future is a no-brainer.
“No matter what the student is interested in, I will always support them to get there,” she stresses. “If I can keep encouraging students to keep thinking about planning for after school, the ball will start rolling toward the future they want.”
The difficulties that her students face day to day stirred up memories of Kelsey's own challenges when she was considering college.
“Learning how to fill out the paperwork was huge,” she recalls. “If I had had to fill out the FAFSA alone, I wouldn't have gotten through it. VSAC helped with every part of the process. They were really supportive with the Common Application, too. I was given lots of resources. I remember getting flow charts and packages with info about certain programs. It was such a game changer.”
Critical to Kelsey was the support she received from Talent Search while at Lyndon State College (NVU—Lyndon). From assistance in managing scholarships to help with filling out paperwork for her awards, VSAC made sure that she didn’t lose financial aid while enrolled.
“During college I had problems with the paperwork surrounding my scholarships and the requirements attached,” she remembers. “I was able to use VSAC’s resources to solve the problems that arose.”
When asked if she would recommend the Talent Search program to fellow Vermonters, she answers: “100%. Especially if you have professional goals in mind already. The Talent Search program will do everything required to reach the goals you have.”
Asked about how she feels being back home reinvesting in her community and the next generation of Talent Search students, Kelsey replied, “It's incredible to be working at the school I used to attend and really grew up in.”
Need help with pursuing your career goals and education needs? VSAC is here to guide you. Serving our community is at the heart of all we do. We are available and committed to helping you navigate all your career and education needs.
For information on college and career planning and help with financial aid, go to www.vsac.org/FAFSAfirst and check out our online workshops and events. For those thinking about college for next fall, check out the Vermont Applies initiative for students and families that runs through December. Have more questions? Give us a call at 800-642-3177, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday or reach us online at email@example.com.
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