By PAMELA CERRO, Ranger Reporter:
Amarillo College’s former intramural coordinator welcomes the semester with a new mission.
Calee Follins is now the new student coordinator, a position that oversees new student orientation, the Coaches and Champions program and many other student services.
“The whole point [of Coaches and Champions] is for students to meet new people and find a place on our campus to feel like they have a family,” Follins said.
Many students say they have felt welcomed at AC because of the Coaches and Champions program.
“I think that overall, promoting the program would reel people in. A lot of people that are only introduced to the program are students from high school, but because Amarillo College is so diverse, we should promote the program to all ages,” said Estrella Suarez, a criminal justice major.
The program is designed to help students with their financial aid, advise them and help them to navigate around school during their first year.
“Without Coaches and Champions, I think I wouldn’t have been encouraged to continue going to school. My mentor is truly inspirational and a blessing to the college experience,” said Joelysbeth Valle, a sonography major.
If the champions have any questions or concerns, the coaches are a call or text away.
“I absolutely love my coach,” said Suarez, “She has truly helped me understand the basics of college. We have built a close relationship. If I have any questions or concerns about anything, she is the first person I go to.”
Mentors help provide wisdom and insight to the students on which path they should take. The coaches have the experience and have the advice that students want to know for their first year in college.
“My favorite part, I think, is just offering some reassurance to these students. Especially because most of these students are the first generation of their families in college,” said Follins.
Follins earned her bachelor’s degree in education and her master’s in higher education. She encourages students to hang in there through the hard times with a positive attitude.
“Regardless of their circumstances, I just think their attitude is the key. You don’t have to be a genius to make it far,” said Follins.
Follins believes she wouldn’t have felt as lost with her college experience if she had been in a program like Coaches and Champions. “It would’ve been a tremendous weight off my shoulders,” said Follins.
Follins said she also believes that interacting and engaging with students releases many of their fears. “I really like being able to reach out to students and help them grow,” she said.
Follins encourages staff members to make a difference by signing up to be a student mentor.
“The more people we can connect, the better. We would love for people to get involved and help. It is a night and day difference,” she said.