“I love watching students grow in their journeys. It’s amazing to me to see them start here and end up so much farther along,” explains Cheyenne Miller, Centralia College’s new Americorps volunteer.
Currently serving in the WorkFirst Resource Center in Kemp 101, Cheyenne supports low-income students as part of a retention project to keep them in the program. Each day from 8am to 5pm, she manages the study area in Kemp, available to mentor, tutor, and provide resources and referrals for those needing extra help.
Cheyenne heard about the new Americorps position while working in the TEEN Program as a work study student. Excited about the opportunity to volunteer through Americorps right here on campus, she signed up to serve a 10 month term which began in September. In her new role, Cheyenne aims to help our community and teach life lessons to low-income adults.
Taking on the position meant a slight delay in her own educational path. However, by taking classes part time and on-line, she plans to finish her AA by the time her Americorps service term is complete. The additional time at CC doesn’t seem to phase her, though. Instead, she feels it has given her a chance to explore different interests like psychology and cultural anthropology. “I just want to study something I love. I’m more focused on the journey.”
Those are impressive words considering Cheyenne’s past. As a foster child, she moved around 40 times before she turned 18. Without support and stability—and often thrown in circumstances out of her control—Cheyenne admits that she lacked skills to make good decisions. She was in and out of high school and often in trouble.
Then, a few years ago, Cheyenne decided to step out of the dysfunction that characterized her youth and change the direction of her life. She said, “I chose to be a functioning member of society—to be normal.” One of the most significant steps in this decision was to surround herself with what she calls her “forever family.” Choosing to connect with this healthy, caring family gave her a new outlook on life. Now on a brighter path, she went on to complete her GED and is currently on track to complete her Associate’s degree.
Her new perspective also enabled her see the needs of others and become involved in making a difference. This led her to become actively involved in an advocacy organization that seeks to improve the foster care system. By collaborating with other foster youth, making presentations, and writing articles for their newspaper, Cheyenne advocated for better changes for children and youth in Washington’s child welfare system.
Today she continues to advocate for struggling low income students at Centralia College. With understanding, compassion, and encouragement, Cheyenne helps these students stay on track and in school. Looking back on her own journey, she says, “I know it’s possible to get from point A to Z.” She knows, because she’s done it.