Teacher's Guild Interview

First-generation college student paying it forward as a new College Coach.

Photo of Zachary Sheppard
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Name Zachary Sheppard

Title Tech-Connected College Coach

Organization College Possible

Where did you attend college? Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania

What is one of your favorite memories from college? One of my favorite memories from college is watching the night sky while lying down on the bleachers by the practice soccer field where there was no overhead lighting. I would do this often in order to clear my mind in solitude after a stressful day or week.

What was a challenge you faced in College? During my first few years of college, I found it very difficult to speak up and ask for help when I needed it. It took me a while to understand the relationship between a professor and a student, and that it has the potential to be much more than someone lecturing to you for a few hours a week.

What was something you wish you had known before entering college? Before entering college, I wish I would have known how important building relationships and connections is from the very first semester. I did not feel connected to my campus until the end of my second semester when I became more involved in clubs and activities.

Why is this collaboration topic (transforming college readiness) important to you? Transforming college readiness is important to me because too many capable and qualified students do not successfully complete their college journey, and some do not even believe it to be an option for themselves.

If you could re-design anything to make the to-and-through college journey better for students, what would that thing be? If I could re-design one thing to make the to-and-through college journey better for students, I would ensure that every college campus across the nation has some form of coaching and support for students outside of just their academic advisor (if they have one).

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Photo of Donna

Hi Zachary, Thank you so much for sharing about your college journey as a first generation college student. You point out how important support is for students who may not feel a sense of belonging. As we move into the Ideate phase, you may want to connect with Margaret Eichner on some ideas around support.

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