By Eric Erickson

Beyond required coursework and college prep classes, the uncertainties of life after high school loom large for many Como students.

Helping students navigate their future is a team effort led by school counselors and supported by educational entities who embed their human resources in the school.

Como partners with Achieve Twin Cities to staff a career and college coordinator in the school’s Career Pathway Center. Known to students as the CPC, the recently renovated space provides Como students access to resources, opportunities and support.

Aisha Mohamed is a Como alum from the class of 2015. After she graduated from the University of Rochester in New York, she began working in educational research. She returned to her alma mater this fall as the CPC coordinator.

“Whether it’s an initial conversation about their interests and potential college major or what pathway post-graduation is the best fit, the aim of the CPC is to connect with students at any point about college and career,” Mohamed said.

The CPC has hosted more than 20 college representative visits this fall. Students and families attended workshops targeting the college process during College Knowledge Night and received support with applications and the financial aid process. Additional FAFSA completion workshops are forthcoming.

Mohamed collaborates on additional initiatives to bring students to campuses. Field trips are spearheaded by Mai Chue Moua and Steven Martinez Grande who lead the Get Ready program.

Get Ready is sponsored by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Get Ready’s mission is to improve the post-secondary outcomes for students from low-income backgrounds and communities of color.

To do that, students need to see themselves in college. For many aspiring first-generation college students, these day trips from Como are the first time they’ve set foot on a college campus. It’s frequently eye-opening and inspiring.

“For those students, I believe the field trips have helped them understand that college can be a reality, especially when that may not have been the case before,” Moua said. “There’s an increase of self-awareness concerning what they want, need and aspire to do for their future. The field trip experiences allow them to explore their potential.”

Schools visited include the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minnesota State Mankato, UMD, UW River Falls, St. Scholastica, Concordia St. Paul, and St. Paul College. 

Eric Erickson is a teacher at Como Park Senior High School.

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