April 14, 2023

AdviseAZ: Near-peer advisers help high school students pursue education after high school

Filling out college applications or even the FAFSA form for financial aid can be a daunting experience for high school students, especially first-generation students. However, some help and encouragement from a peer can make it easier – and that is exactly what our AdviseAZ AmeriCorps Program provides!

Education Forward Arizona offers a few different programs and resources for students, one of those being our AdviseAZ AmeriCorps Program.

AdviseAZ is a statewide initiative that places college students or recent college graduates in high schools to act as near-peer advisers. These AdviseAZ AmeriCorps members work alongside high school staff to make students’ pursuit of postsecondary education easier in support of the Achieve60AZ goal – for 60 percent of adults in Arizona to have a credential or degree by 2030.

Blayze Vanta, a graduate of Globe High School remembers the help she received from an AdviseAZ AmeriCorps member.

Blayze Vanta

“College access in high school was scary for me. I was already taking college courses while in high school, so it was a lot to manage. An AmeriCorps member at Globe High School helped me and got me interested in becoming an AmeriCorps member.” 

Now as an adviser herself at Miami High School, Blayze shares her own personal stories to help students with their own concerns.

Surabhi Sajith

“One student I helped was concerned about her GPA and being able to finish high school. I told her that during my first year in college, I was on academic probation but I pulled myself out of it…you can pull yourself out of it as well. I’m encouraging them to put their best forward now in high school because it will continue in college.”

AdviseAZ member Surabhi Sajith has spent the past two years advising Tempe students through online webinars and in-person workshops at College Connect and area high schools, including an SAT/ACT Prep workshop earlier this year.

“I feel more confident in being a leader and being able to lead larger groups and online webinars which helps me with my leadership ability,” said Surabhi.

Alyssa Orozco

Alyssa Orozco, an AdviseAZ member who advises high school students in the Chino Valley/Camp Verde area, said she enjoyed her year of service so much that she is considering it as her future career.

“It’s very rewarding to help seniors apply to college and get accepted,” she said. “When they do, we have our own celebration.”

AdviseAZ is now seeking current or recent college students to serve local high schools in the 2023-24 school year. Advisers receive a bi-monthly living stipend and an education award at the end of the year.

As near-peer advisers, AdviseAZ members can better connect with high school students and understand the barriers they face, said AdviseAZ Outreach Specialist, Aizelle Gulapa. The program also allows members to build their network and gain career experience. 

Inspiration and passion can be contagious, so if anyone you know sounds like they might be interested in this program please encourage them to apply!