Katherine Mellinger is a social work student at Mott Community College who will complete her program at Mott next year. She has taken a lead role in the efforts of the college to provide equity and inclusion for supporting both academic and personal needs of the student body. She began her work last year as a volunteer at the new campus Family Life Center. She helped to ensure that students had access to basic needs including access to food and clothing through the Mott Eats college food pantry and Ellen’s Closet clothing distribution. Her services were critical to the sustainability of these services throughout the pandemic when it was difficult for students to access services. Katherine also led first by example and then by leadership as a college peer Mentor. She began coaching one-on-one at the Family Life Center and then joined as a Peer Mentor in the Connect2Complete program to assist developmental students to navigate systems and stay in class. She took her leadership skills to a new level this past fall as the student representative for the college in the efforts to build institutional capacity for meeting students basic needs for reaching their academic goals.
I believe that success one life at a time leads to many successes many lives at a time. When I began college in 2020, I became an engaged citizen not only to impact lives through my own volunteerism but to encourage others to do the same. I volunteered at the campus Family Life Center packing and distributing boxes of basic needs items to students. As my passion for changing lives grew, I became a personal coach to a student trying to navigate the systems at the College. Through this coaching, the student was successful in completing his academic goals. My contributions expanded and I became a peer mentor for the Connect2Complete program to help developmental students navigate College systems. This led to even greater opportunities to work collaboratively to help others. I became the student representative for The Center of Hope Institutional Capacity Building Cohort to help the college provide systems that help students find the help they need. I realized many times systems are not set up for success. Through this journey, I want to be a part of broader, equitable systemic change to help people get the help they need when they need it.