Promise Team Spotlight - Trenae Dunigan0
We are excited to share another Promise Team Spotlight! Our latest entry in the series introduces Trenae Dunigan, a Promise Scholar whose mission is to help high school seniors find the right fit after they graduate.
After graduating from Kalamazoo Central High School in 2011, Dunigan enrolled at Grand Valley State University. As the first person in her family to attend a four-year university, she entered uncharted territory and faced a lot of anxiety. Gradually, she learned how to ask questions and advocate for her needs as a student.
In 2015, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Communication with a minor in Public Relations and Advertising. Now a Pathway Coach for The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise), Dunigan draws from her collegiate experience to assist Kalamazoo Public Schools seniors make the same transition she did nearly a decade ago.
“Together, we go over the unspoken information,” she explains. “I help students understand the details in FAFSFA paperwork and documentation related to The Promise. I also assist them with college essays and applications, scholarship research, and learning which colleges can be applied to using The Promise.”
For Dunigan and her students, this process begins in the fall and carries on through the school year, giving seniors a chance to be well-prepared and introduces them to options they may have been unaware of. For example, if a student finds they are uninterested in a four-year education, they can use this time to explore different trade school opportunities.
During COVID-19 most of these services are administered virtually. Students can meet with Dunigan and other Pathway Coaches in one-on-one appointments as well as group sessions. The pandemic has also led The Promise to waive the full-time status requirement for the foreseeable future, so students pursuing a collegiate or trade school education have the flexibility to experiment and learn what is the best fit for them.
Dunigan hopes that these changes motivate students to be proactive in their preparations for the next step and push them to ask questions about the process.
“Do not be afraid to ask for help or start the dialogue,” she encouraged. “Do not wait, start the conversation early in high school and as you start your path in college. Asking questions helps open doors.”
As a Promise Scholar who found a career with The Promise, Dunigan sees her current role as an opportunity to give back to the community and people who helped her grow.
“I want to show that just because I left for college does not mean I will leave others here to fend for themselves,” she said of her career path. “I know education is not the only obstacle people face here. I want to be active and be a voice in this community. I have the opportunity, confidence, support, and the platform to do so because of The Kalamazoo Promise and I will forever be grateful!”
It has been a pleasure meeting you, Trenae. We appreciate your hard work and wish you the best of luck as you guide students toward a fulfilling future. KPS seniors who would like to meet with Trenae are encouraged to schedule a meeting online.