Avia Hailey is a first year Bridge Scholar and coach for Public Achievement. This week, The Catalyst sat down with Hailey to discuss goals and transitions.
THE CATALYST: WHAT IS PUBLIC ACHIEVEMENT AND WHAT DROVE YOU TO GET INVOLVED?
AVIA HAILEY: Public Achievement is a group run through the Collaborative Community for Engagement that focuses on working with D11 schools to empower young students to do community enrichment and development. It also is housed from the civil rights movement so we do a lot of restorative justice practices — the story of us in self and community. I originally was introduced to it through a professor. I had recently just finished my summer session of Bridge and my professor was like I think you’ll be great for this. So she connected me with Nan Elpers, I learned a little bit about the job, and then I applied.
TC: WHAT’S THE HARDEST AND MOST ENJOYABLE PARTS ABOUT BEING A COACH FOR PA?
AH: At the beginning of the year, I believe the hardest part was getting to really know the children and fostering a relationship — getting them to trust you. And then as the year continued, it is keeping them engaged as the kids are a bunch of middle schoolers and it’s an after school program. So just trying to show them why these values and ideals are important for them to carry on throughout life. The most enjoyable part is the kids, just them in general. Every time you see them, they’re just balls of joy. We just have so much fun, whether it’s snack time or doing our project. I was with the educational resource group and our big focus was fundraising for textbooks. We were crafting emails to the school board and that was a lot of fun.
TC: CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE BRIDGE PROGRAM AND YOUR INVOLVEMENT?
AH: Absolutely, I would love to. Bridge is for incoming students to help them bridge the gap from high school to college. You come to school early in the summer and you have a pre-course that you take for a half credit. The course I was in this year was Colorful Colorado and it focused a lot on environment and social justice in that aspect. You also get to go around campus and meet different resources and get super connected. This year I was a student, which was incredibly fun, and I’m super excited because next year I get to come back as a mentor. As a mentor, we help to facilitate this transition by being a support system to the student. They say that the first six weeks of college is the hardest transition, so we try to really help our students feel secure and welcome here.
TC: WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH DURING YOUR TIME AT CC?
AH: So much. Academics is obviously something big for me. Something I was really interested in is the sciences, but this year I got into the feminist and gender studies courses and that’s been phenomenal. So becoming a well-rounded person and just really giving back to this new Colorado community that has done so much for me and just being active in our school.
TC: WHEN YOU WERE LITTLE, WHAT DID YOU HOPE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
AH: A principal. Education has always been the goal. As of now, it’s transferred a little bit. I want to be a superintendent of schools. My mother was a teacher when I was younger. She later moved into social work. She was always big on crafting the minds of tomorrow and helping to build and grow a love of learning. I was like “summers off, kids, crafts, there’s nothing better.”
TC: WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
AH: I love to dance. My friends sometimes get annoyed, but I try to do random dance parties wherever I am. Today we were on the way to the meeting and I was just dancing through Tava having a good time. I’m also a big napper. When I get a second to myself I’m like “nap? Yeah.”
TC: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT THE BLOCK PLAN?
AH: I’d say two things. The first thing is the transition because it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Most people are coming from high school and my friends and I always joke around because you’re in school for eight hours a day and then you come here and struggle to get through one three hour class and you get a break. So definitely that transition. And I think also in the sciences, the experience is just so fast tracked and you really have to hit the ground running and prepare yourself. Self-care intertwined with that is a biggie. Balancing is definitely a task. A lot of it comes down to time management, as well as having an incredibly strong support system that I’m so grateful for. My wall calendar is like eight different colors per day. Staying on track, [and] looking at Outlook [is important], but also [having] friends to say, “Hey why don’t you come get lunch with me and take a breather,” is key.
TC: IF YOU COULD TAKE CREDIT FOR ONE PIECE OF ART, ONE BOOK, OR ONE INVNETION, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
AH: That’s a marvelous question. Oh Jenga. That’s kind of been my big thing this year. I’ve actually beaten every faculty/staff member in The Butler Center at Jenga. That game just brings me so much joy so I would love to have invented that.
TC: DO YOU HAVE ANY MOTTOS OR SAYINGS YOU TRY TO LIVE BY?
AH:..“Don’t worry, be happy.” That’s a biggie. I try to start every day as an optimist as well as because, you know, life can be tough sometimes and throw some crazy things at you. Also something that my mom told me growing up and it comes to my mind all the time is ‘Don’t be the drama llama’. So I do my best to try and stay drama-free because that leads to just being back to being happy.
TC: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SMELL?
AH: It would either be lavender, peppermint. or coconut.