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2022 Reflections from the AO Team

As we head into the final days of 2022, the Access Opportunity staff has been reflecting on the moments that brought us joy over the last year.

4 staff members pose in celebration in front of a patterned wall

Jasmine Johnson (Social-Emotional Learning Counselor): "I have had many great memories since my time starting at Access Opportunity. I have felt an incredible amount of welcoming and caring energy. One of my most favorite memories will always be one from our Cal-Wood retreat with students in June. As it was my first week working with AO, I of course was feeling a bit of nervousness and excitement getting to know everyone. During one of our team-building and activity sessions, I got the opportunity to join the students as a teammate in a game that involved running under a swinging jump rope as a group. In a burst of excitement, I tripped and almost fell as my team was running quickly together under the rope. One student, Manny, happened to see me stumble and caught my fall pulling me to the other side as our team made a successful transition. This moment was so special to me as I truly felt like a part of the AO family. I continue to see this caring nature and strong community within our staff and students every single day as I get the privilege to know and grow with them more."

Tiffani Lopez (College Counselor): "I was meeting with high school senior, Emmy, for the first time and she was having trouble translating her thoughts into words that would make up her personal statement for her college application. After 3 weeks of consistently meeting with her, we finalized her statement and she was filled with excitement and eagerness. This instance served as a pivotal moment as I realized just how limitless our students are and how important our work is in supporting them achieve their goals, dreams, and aspirations."

Natalee Deaette (Program Director):“For reasons outside of his control, one of our high school seniors missed the deadline to submit the enrollment deposit to their top choice college. When the student found out that they would not be able to attend the school that they’d been dreaming of for so long, they were absolutely devastated, but promptly reached out to AO for support. After speaking with the student, we got in touch with the admissions office for the university and they were able to make an exception given the students’ special circumstances – and they even waived the deposit fee altogether. To me, this was a testament to not just the resilience of our students but the incredible power of our partners and supporters in making our students dreams a reality."

Olivia Sutphen (Career Counselor):" My favorite moment was at the June workshop, when students were split into random groups and had to come up with a skit for various origin stories (for example, how the stars were born). They performed each skit for the group and then we had to guess the origin story. Students grumbled at first about the activity, but by the end of it they were extremely dedicated and excited. The skits themselves were hilarious! It was so fun to see students be creative and silly and cheer each other on in the process."

Cassie Howell (Operations Manager): "Going beyond the basic task of scholarship distribution and focusing on helping students think about money in a real way has been so rewarding. For example, a student wanted help creating a monthly budget that would stretch her scholarship funds longer and give her realistic expectations for her own personal spending. It was so fun collaborating on a final result that gave her confidence!

I also love getting honest input from our AO students about what costs they encounter at their schools. They have such interesting perspectives about opportunities that could help them succeed. It helps us keep in mind that education is an evolving adventure that looks different for every student."


Happy New Year from Access Opportunity!

We're looking forward to all of the special moments to come in 2023.


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