When Brooke Greenway was in high school, college was the last thing on her mind. She explored the offerings at her district’s technical center, jumping from health care to criminal justice to global business management before graduating from the school’s diesel mechanics program.
But once she settled on a career in social work, she knew higher education was in her future. She also knew it would be an uphill battle. “The process of applying to college was an obstacle,” Brooke recalls. “My parents didn’t have any idea where to start.”
Brooke applied to and was accepted by Castleton University. But her struggles had just begun. After four years in trade school, the traditional classroom setting felt strange. “I had to get used to sitting at desks in rows and raising my hand in class,” she says.
And then there was the workload. “I had more projects, but less time to do them,” says Brooke. “I wasn’t used to managing deadlines.”
Through Castleton’s Summer Transition Program, Brooke made friends with other new students. Many, like her, were the first in their families to attend college. She also met Becky Eno and other counselors at the Academic Support Center (ASC). Through regular meetings with them, she learned to manage her time. She even found employment as a Learning Center Assistant, assisting staff and students at the ASC’s front desk.
Today, it’s hard to believe Brooke ever thought college wasn’t for her. The junior social work and sociology major has a 3.15 G.P.A. In addition to working at the ASC, she serves on the President’s Student Advisory Board and the Student Government Association’s Court. She credits the ASC with much of her success.
“The Academic Support Center offers the best resources I’ve ever had: both academic and emotional support,” she says. “They’re not like the counselors in high school where you were more of a number. Having that connection in a new environment is important.”
ASC staff have equally high praise for Brooke. “She mentors and supports her peers as a Learning Center Assistant,” says Becky Eno. “She is unfailingly patient, compassionate, and good-humored with students, often sharing her own challenges and never showing the slightest trace of condescension. She is going to be a wonderful social worker.”
After graduation, Brooke hopes to be a medical social worker or work with people with disabilities. “I think the majority of people with disabilities don’t know what their rights are, so I’d like to advocate for them,” she says. Eventually, she plans to earn a master’s in social work.
Brooke hopes her story will inspire other students to persist and achieve their goals. She encourages new students to develop relationships with their professors and use the resources available to them, including the ASC. “Don’t be afraid of failing,” she muses. “Without failure, you don’t really learn. It’s what you do after the failure that matters.”
-Dorothy A. Dahm