My Experience as a College Connections Coach

By Tiffany Stallone 01/27/2015

As someone who has always enjoyed connecting with others and working with adolescents, I feel so lucky to have found the opportunity to volunteer with the Schuler Scholar Program as a College Connections Coach. In this role, I am mentoring an outstanding and inspiring young woman, Judy Glikberg, for the next four years as she pursues her college degree. Judy graduated from Maine East High School in 2014, is a freshman at Occidental College and is presently interested in the field of neuroscience.

Judy and I first met in person at the Schuler Scholar Send-off in July of 2014 but had shared some emails and phone calls prior to meeting. When we finally met in person, Judy and I had an instant connection. That evening, we shared dinner with her peers and other coaches, talked about her college expectations, my college experience, what made her join Schuler and why she chose Occidental. We also talked about upcoming transitions like moving away from home, making new friends and about  life and what exciting things were coming her way. The Scholars were then sent on an "Amazing Race" through the halls of Maine East High School. Through this activity, the other College Connections Coaches and I helped the Scholars learn how to navigate a university, use resources and be successful on campus. The evening concluded with Judy and I saying our first goodbye and planning for our first official connection.

A week after the "Amazing Race," Judy and I met at a local mall where we got lunch and walked around getting to know one another without all the chaos of the event we'd attended. As we talked about our families, we quickly realized  that we both strongly valued family and education and that we had quite a bit more in common than initially anticipated. Besides being extroverts and enjoying some of the same TV shows, we  both attended the same junior high and high school. After sharing my maiden name, we realized that my sister was Judy's camp counselor at her elementary after-school program. Once we figured this out, Judy explained that the minute she saw me it seemed like she had known me for years. Having come from the same community and sharing so many values immediately strengthened our connection and has laid a foundation that I hope Judy feels will help her over the next four years.

Since meeting in July, Judy and I have called and text each other many times. I look forward to our check-ins and hearing about how moving day went, what she did over the weekend with friends, what new club she has joined or how a particular class or test went. While the main goal of this program is to continue to offer support to the Schuler Scholars in the next chapter of their education, I too have learned a lot from mentoring Judy. I am inspired by her passion for learning, her love of family and her commitment to making the most of every opportunity or obstacle she faces. Seeing the world through the lens of an 18 year old is a beautiful and refreshing thing. In addition to volunteering,  I am a School Counselor and School Counseling Intern Supervisor. Mentoring Judy has helped me to continue to grow as a school counseling professional. I have gained a deeper understanding of  what the transition to college is like for today's young adults, particularly those who come from  the populations that Schuler strives to serve.

I look forward to continuing to connect with Judy over the next four years through our monthly check-ins. I consider it a privilege to be the sounding board for her as she declares her major, studies abroad and encounters the many other college experiences that lie ahead. Judy knows that I am only a text or call away and that I am eager to hear how her day went.

If you are passionate about the Schuler mission, then I strongly encourage you to consider joining me as a College Connections Coach, a one-year commitment that may grow into a longer mentoring relationship. The time commitment is minimal and the rewards are immeasurable. Learn more on the College Connections page or contact Margie Falter, Schuler Volunteer Program Manager, at margaret@schulerprogram.org for more information.


Tiffany Stallone has a Bachelor's degree in Business and a Master's Degree in Education in from DePaul University as well as a Master of Arts in School Leadership from Concordia University Chicago.  She is a School Counseling Intern Supervisor and an Adjunct Professor at DePaul University as well as a School Counselor at Niles North High School.

Tiffany's mentee, Judy (far left), and her team at the 2014 Amazing Race event.

Tiffany's mentee, Judy (far left), and her team at the 2014 Amazing Race event.

College Connections Coaches helped run the Amazing Race at Maine East High School.

College Connections Coaches helped run the Amazing Race at Maine East High School.

Raeven, a Schuler Scholar and Schuler summer intern, speaks with a College Connections Coach during the Amazing Race event.

Raeven, a Schuler Scholar and Schuler summer intern, speaks with a College Connections Coach during the Amazing Race event.

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