Bryan Rivera

Bryan Rivera, college and career guide at Kodiak High School, sports blue and gold colors in his office on Friday, Nov. 1. Rivera works to help high school students figure out their plans after graduation. (Nicole Klauss photo)

About half of the students at Kodiak High School aren’t sure what they want to do after graduation.

That’s where Kodiak High School college and career guide Bryan Rivera steps in.

“It’s 50-50,” he said. “I often see a split with students. Either they come to me and need help with the process and that’s where we start working or there are students who come to me who don’t know what to do after high school. With them, we start from scratch.”

Rivera was hired for the position last year. He was a Kodiak High School graduate, and graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with a marketing degree in 2011. The position is funded by the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education.

Rivera’s position is only a two-year position, and it will end in May. Until it’s over, he’s making the most of his time by trying to help as many students as possible.

Last year he met with students during their 70-minute advisory periods, but this year’s schedule has less advisory time. He now has to meet with them for small presentations or one-on-one in the school library.

Rivera is one of 10 college and career guides assigned to a school in Alaska. His main responsibility is to help high school students come up with a plan for after high school.

“I say college a lot, but I say that in general terms,” he said. “It could be a two-year, four-year, or technical school, the military or employment after high school.”

Rivera meets with students in all grade levels. His focus with the freshmen is getting them involved in clubs, sports and organizations that will bolster their résumés and college applications.

“With the younger groups, it’s about exposing them to the all of these options at the high school and making sure that they start looking into their interests,” he said. “I make sure to let them know to take the freshman year seriously. It’s very important because it will carry through their whole high school career.”

When it comes to the seniors, it’s all about putting things into action, whether it’s filling out applications or applying to scholarships.

The biggest challenge facing students in Kodiak who want to go to college is funding, Rivera said.

“The financial aspect is the biggest challenge,” he said. “About 80 percent is financial.”

Rivera also started the college club last year, which meets twice a week during lunchtime, to give students more time to work on post-high school planning. He has around 20 regular members in the club.

“Meeting with students during advisory or meeting with them one on one at the library, I don’t think provides enough resources for students,” he said.

Rivera received $2,000 from his supervisor to use toward college prep courses. Since he receives money from the state for his regular programs, he came up with the idea to use the money for scholarships for his college club students.

“I told my supervisor I want to use the money for scholarships for students for college club regular participants,” he said. “They are very excited about this because it is a scholarship just for them and they have a better chance of getting it.”

Rivera said he didn’t want to completely deplete the funding though, so he turned college club into a real club that will now do fundraising throughout the year.

“Our goal is to reach $5,000 by the end of the year,” he said. “If we reach the goal, then we can give three students $1,000 scholarships.”

The students will be required to go through a scholarship process with scholarship committees making the final decision.

Rivera’s position with the state ends at the end of the academic school year, but the high school will have a new college and career guide next year.

Rivera said he’s not worried about having a new job because he plans to move to Anchorage and go back to school. That also helps him relate to the students.

“I keep telling students I’ll be in the same boat,” he said. “I’ll be applying for scholarships and doing schoolwork too.”

Contact Mirror writer Nicole Klauss at nklauss@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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