I still remember getting the phone call from our President and CEO, Bonnie Sutton with the good news that ACCESS and J&A formed a new partnership, and we became one of the official charities for Shamrock Weekend. That was the big push I needed to commit to running the Whale Challenge (8k and Full Marathon) that year, in the hopes that I would qualify for the Boston Marathon. I was able to raise over $2,000 that year for ACCESS…and I qualified! It’s no secret that I love to run, and then to add ACCESS into the mix, well that’s the sprinkles on my donut!
I have personally raised over $5,000 for ACCESS through our partnership since 2014, and I’m hoping to reach my goal of $3,000 this year, please check out my fundraising site: https://give.everydayhero.com/us/meganulanich-overbey! For me it’s easy, I log in the miles and hope that I inspire enough people to get donations rolling in to help the students that I work with daily. The drive alone to raise money for a non-profit that I hold dear to my heart makes the long winter miles worth it, and when I have the day’s that I would rather do anything but train, I think about my students and how college is their finish line. Getting to that finish line for them is going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of patience, and the desire to succeed. Sounds all too familiar with what running means to me!
As an ACCESS Advisor at Granby High School, I work with 9-12 graders, primarily working with the juniors and seniors preparing them for what’s next. Right now the biggest task in the school year is helping our senior families file for financial aid, by filling out the dreaded FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Aid). It can be daunting for many, a lot of our students are from low-income families, many are first generation students, some have never been out of the Hampton Roads area before, and for many college is a pipe dream. We offer our services to help with this task, and my days fly by like Usain Bolt’s speed, counseling parents and students daily! I may feel like I was hit by a mac truck at the end of the school day, but I drive home feeling rewarded. Prior to ACCESS, I worked in college admissions, while I enjoyed learning that side of the college process, I find that there are so many options for students today, and I enjoy helping them find the perfect fit!
The biggest barrier in the college process is cost! Watching college tuition increase each year, has me considering opening up a VA-529 College Savings Plan for my unborn. I have an awful feeling that in the next twenty years, college costs might be in the six-digits, and that leaves me dreaming about a day to retire before 90, or going back into higher education in the hopes of getting free tuition through employment. Either way, this barrier is facing my students now, and we are educating them the best way we can. I have students that work 40 hour weeks, in addition to attending high school, playing sports, and participating in extracurricular activities. Some of them are the “bread” winners for their family, and working is not an option. The stories that I hear daily pull at my heartstrings, and at times it puts everything in perspective, and makes you realize what’s important.
I had a parent recently ask me how many children I had, I sarcastically said four fur babies, she laughed, and replied, “from where I’m sitting, you have them in the hundreds.” It’s moments like this that I know I’m in the right place at the right time. It’s the moments that my students run into my office to tell me that they have been accepted into college, when they are awarded a scholarship, when they are excited about the senior prom, or the big game on Friday night, that makes it worth while. When I get the hug with a “thank you,” because without your help they wouldn’t be able to continue their education, well that makes me eager to help more! I work with students who come from many backgrounds, all of them have their own story to share, all of them have their own aspiration for life after Granby, but all of them have the same common goal, to make a better life for themselves and their families.
This quote hits home for my students and the struggles that some of them face. Sometimes I think we could all use this quote at times in our lives.
“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” -Robert H. Schuller
For every $1 given, we leverage $20 in the services we provide to our students. For just $5, we would leverage $100, that would be several testing/college application fee waivers for our deserving students. If you would like to contribute to the ACCESS College Foundation, please consider donating to my fundraising page. It doesn’t take much to make a difference: https://give.everydayhero.com/us/meganulanich-overbey