Alumni return to high school halls


Photo provided by Julia Poage

Sarah Ramos spends a majority of her days driving. She has to travel between the 16 different high schools that she serves, ensuring that a team of advisers at each school is working to achieve certain initiatives and goals. Ramos also drives to continue connecting with other college advising programs to see if she can be an asset and help in any upcoming events.

These high schools Ramos works with are a part of Trinity’s College Advising Corps.

The Trinity University College Advising Corps’ mission is to support high school students who are low-income, first-generation or underprivileged and encourage them to attend college and attain a degree. The national College Advising Corps is currently partnered with 31 universities within 17 states and has been active at Trinity since 2011.

“We are all kind of unique. We are housed at different universities, so I think the beauty of this program is, at least for me, I make sure that I maintain different community initiatives and being kind of like that community liaison,” Ramos said.

Another part of Ramos’s role is being a mentor to Trinity’s student advisers. Trinity’s College Advising Corps is currently involved in five school districts and 16 high schools in San Antonio. The program hires recent university graduates and places them in local high schools, where the advisers can serve for one to two years. They help high school students with financial aid, scholarships and college applications.

“The goal is to foster a college-going culture on campus because typically these high schools do have low college-going rates,” Ramos said.

Ramos has been working at Trinity for the past five years as project director of Trinity University’s College Advising Corps. Ramos’s role includes building relationships with the different San Antonio districts, counselors and other College Access Partners. She is involved in different college committees, such as My Brother’s Keeper, San Antonio Diplomas, Region20 and Generation Texas.

“Anything involving college access, SAT, financial aid and any different organizations that have that kind of component, I try to make sure that we are embedded in that,” Ramos said.

Working for the Advising Corps is a full-time position. Most advisers working for Trinity’s College Advising Corps are Trinity alumni, but some graduated from surrounding universities such as St. Mary’s University, University of the Incarnate Word and Texas State University. Advisers help high school students with financial aid, scholarships and college applications.

The student advisers, who trained for the entire month of August, are now serving in local San Antonio high schools.

Henry Pratt, Trinity class of 2019, is currently working at Sam Houston High School. Pratt explained the training process in an email interview.

“We had sessions 8 [a.m.]–5 [p.m.] Monday to Friday, discussing college access and receiving training on different aspects of the ‘college-going process’ like financial aid and scholarships, match and fit, ACT/SAT etc. [Training] included a week-long trip to Fort Worth, where we had a statewide training with other Texas chapters of College Advising Corps and toured several universities in the area,” Pratt wrote.

Julia Poage, another 2019 Trinity graduate, also recently took a position as a college adviser and is currently working at MacArthur High School.

“We are really just a resource for the community that we are based in,” Poage said. “So we have really been trained to be receptive to what kids are asking for . . . just like listening to the questions that they have, their concerns, their parents’ concerns and not try to impose a certain expectation or limitation on them.”

Poage enjoys teaching and helping other students and this position was an opportunity for her to continue doing that.

“I’m very used to being in an educational space,” Poage said. “Even at Trinity I was the head writing tutor for a semester, and I love being in that mentoring space, so it’s just really comfortable for me.”

One of Ramos’s favorite things about her job is watching the advisers that she mentors grow and develop professionally in their positions.

“It’s definitely neat because you are working with individuals who have been in the school system for a long period of time, so they are able to see the different components of that,” Ramos said.

The success of this program is also close to Ramos’s heart as she gets to be a part of the impact that this is making in the community.

“As a non-traditional first-generation college graduate, it’s exciting to see this program implemented in the high school that I graduated from, and then high schools that my family graduated from and seeing the impact that we make, so the exciting part is to see us in that working space,” Ramos said.