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Where Are They Now? Course to College Corps Success Stories

LaVerne Handfield

Corps Member 2017-2018

"This was probably the best experience of my life so far."


Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Bachelor of Science in public health, University of South Florida

What work experience did you have before joining Course to College Corps?

I worked as an office assistant for a performing arts box office and scheduling director and committee director for the University of South Florida’s Center for Student Involvement.

What got you interested?

I was looking for something to do during my gap year, and someone recommended I look into AmeriCorps. My next step was going for my master’s in higher education/student affairs, so I felt this was a great way to get started on that path.

How was the adjustment for Florida to Fort Dodge?

It was drastic! I spent four years in Tampa for school and lived in Fort Lauderdale prior to that, so moving to a small town like Fort Dodge was such a big change! But the small-town feel was very cozy. We obviously don’t have seasons per se in Florida, so getting to actually experience winter and the flowers blooming in spring were my favorite. (I miss seeing bunnies in the mornings and fireflies at night.)

Looking back on your year with the Corps, do any particular memories stand out?

I’d say two in particular: preparing for the school’s College Decision Day and my last day. As part of the school’s College Decision Day, I wanted the students to have goodie bag survival kits, so I spent about three days packing 300+ goodie bags for students; that was certainly fun. My other memory was my last day of work: I was packing my space up and went to lunch with a co-worker and came back to cake! My supervisors organized a small going-away-final-day party for me, and everyone in our building came up to wish me well.

What would you say to someone who’s considering joining the Corps?

Getting started, the work may seem overwhelming, and getting people on board for your vision for projects may seem tiresome, but don’t give up. Compromise if you must compromise. Stand your ground if that’s the best option. Remember the goal is ensuring that students have access to college and career choices after graduating, and that they are equipped with everything they need to be college- and career-ready. You have a support system in Iowa College Aid, and their goal is to see you succeed, so utilize them as a resource.

Did being in the Corps influence your education or career plans?

Yes. I definitely see myself continuing to work on college access and success initiatives in the future.

What’s your current job title, and what exactly do you do?

I am the programs coordinator for Florida College Access Network. I oversee the state’s College Ready Florida initiatives and work with school counselors to provide resources and help implement these initiatives at their schools and in their communities.

Anything else you’d like us to know about you or your Corps experience?

This was probably the best experience of my life so far as it taught me so much not only about my future path in life, but a lot about myself. I will forever be grateful for being a part of the Course to College Corps.