As COVID Wanes, Renewed Hope Emerges
In March, one year after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Mohammadayad Momin, a senior at Salem High School in Conyers, Georgia, received the emails he’d patiently been waiting for. To his relief and joy, he learned he has been accepted to Georgia State University and the University of Georgia and was wait-listed at Georgia Tech. Momin is going to college.
“None of this would be possible without the help of my college adviser, Mr. Porter,” shared Momin, whose parents immigrated from India to the U.S. more than 20 years ago. “He kept me motivated—even in December when I was under a great deal of stress and pressure and said I didn’t think I could finish my applications.”
Momin is a first-generation student. His parents operate a Marco’s Pizza franchise where Momin works after school and on weekends. For the past year, he has been attending classes at home via Zoom.
“I made it a point to reach out to Mr. Porter the first week of my senior year,” he shared. “Although I knew I wanted to go to college, I just didn’t know where to begin.”
Bradford Porter, 25, is a second-year College Advising Corps adviser at the University of Georgia. He helps students at Salem High School with their postsecondary plans, whether those plans include a four-year university, community college, trade school, or military service.
His goal is to help his students find the right match and fit.
College Advising Corps places recent college graduates, like Porter, in underserved high schools where they work to increase the number of low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students entering in and completing higher education. Generally, advisers serve for two years before either pursuing graduate studies or joining the workforce.
“I know just how difficult it is to navigate the college application process,” shared Porter. As a first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented student, I would have been that student served by College Advising Corps.”
Porter grew up in Covington, Georgia, where his father works as a mechanic and his mother is a homemaker. His parents recognized early on that Porter possessed academic promise.
“My parents always encouraged and supported me,” shared Porter, who graduated with a 3.9 GPA and whose extracurricular activities included student government, Key Club, 4-H, and volunteer work. “They sat me down my freshman year of high school and urged me to remain focused on my studies. They knew a college degree would help me move forward in my chosen career, and they wanted me to have the opportunities they didn’t.”
After graduating from the University of Georgia, Porter worked for a year as a teacher for a nonprofit. He heard about College Advising Corps from a friend who herself was serving as an adviser. She told him that the work was meaningful and rewarding and because he loved working with young people, it would be a good fit for him also. Porter began serving as an adviser in the fall of 2019—first at Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta and then, in the wake of the pandemic, at Salem High School.
For Momin and many other students like him, Porter has been a “guiding light” during a time filled with uncertainty and unrest.
“Mr. Porter has been my coach,” he said. “At the start of the year, I knew nothing about the Common Application. We began working on applications together straightaway. He nudged and encouraged me when I needed it most.”
Porter, who made it a point this year to call every student who did not set up a meeting with him early in the fall, said that as a college adviser it’s important to recognize when a student needs a gentle prod or a measure of reassurance.
“They have the desire,” Porter explained. “The idea is there. They just need someone to come up alongside to help them journey through the process—one step at a time.”
For Porter, a self-described people person, success is directly linked to building relationships. Over the past year, he has logged more than 180 phone calls to seniors and met with 156 families, exceeding his organizational goal. If a senior at Salem applied to college, they most certainly interacted at least one time with Porter.
As Porter’s two-year service draws to a close, he, too, had been checking email as expectantly as his students. In March, he learned he has been accepted to all five graduate programs to which he had applied in the fall.
“My experience as a college adviser has been transformative—both working with students in-person and virtually,” said Porter, looking back on his tenure. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time serving students. I have learned how passionate I am about supporting them with their postsecondary plans—especially low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students.”
This fall, Porter will attend Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, where he will pursue his Master of Education degree in student affairs.
“I want to continue working with students to make their experiences even better than my own. I’m excited for the next chapter in my life after the corps.”
Bradford’s positive outlook, passion for the mission, and drive to help all students, has served as a great motivational force for our team in a challenging year. I’m sure Bradford will continue to use his strengths to support college access and completion in his next career and I am very excited for his future.
— Brook Thompson, Program Director
College Advising Corps at the University of Georgia