Alumni Spotlight: Morgan Ganoe
For those interested in entering the field of education, but not necessarily knowing where to begin, what to do, or what path to pursue, this is the blog for you!
Last week the ECYD community chatted with Morgan Ganoe, UVA graduate, Virginia College Advising Corps (VCAC) alumni, and Assistant Director of Admissions at George Washington University. Before becoming involved in education, Morgan pursed an undergraduate degree in Sociology and American Studies. She reminisced that she became intrigued with teaching when she took the course “Merit, Privilege & American Higher Education” her senior year and her professor encouraged her to attend a VCAC information session. As a low-income student, she fell in love with the idea of being able to give back to youth who had similar experiences to her growing up, saying she “believes education is the ticket to the way out of poverty.”
What is the Virginia College Advising Corps?
According to the VCAC website,“The University of Virginia launched the Virginia College Advising Corps in fall 2005 to address the widening gap in college access for low income, first generation, and under-represented students. The Corps places recent UVA and UVA’s College at Wise graduates in high schools throughout the Commonwealth to work alongside counselors and other college access organizations.” VCAC’s goal is to encourage and assist high school students with college applications, financial aid, scholarship searches, and making the transition to post-secondary education.
Morgan commented that VCAC was one of the most rewarding experience she has had because of her valuable work with students. She made the most of her time by attending professional development presentations and sitting in classrooms observing other teachers’ strategies. She also integrated herself into the community and focused on building relationships, particularly as the volleyball coach for the school she worked for in Danville which helped her get to know students on a personal level. However, one of the biggest challenges she faced was having to teach high school students as a fresh college graduate. The closeness in age proved to be an odd dynamic in the classroom, but she was able to utilize that similarity to relate to students on a more personal level. In fact, one of the most impactful moments she remembers was helping a student fill out his FAFSA since he had minimal access to communicate with his parents. Because the student had trouble in his home life, helping him initially work through his adversity to eventually seeing him get accepted into a college was emotionally exhausting, but beyond rewarding.
What are some differences she has noted between K-12 and higher education work environments?
Many of you might be unsure of what avenue to explore in education, whether that be policy, non-profit work, K-12 teaching, or higher education administration. Morgan luckily has experience in the latter two. After starting work with VCAC, she went back to graduate school and received a degree in higher education administration. It was a difficult decision because while she enjoyed teaching, she wanted more freedom and autonomy in her work, which K-12 education cannot always provide because it’s a more regimented system. While there is still a lot of red tape and bureaucratic processes to go through in both industries, there’s more flexibility for projects in admissions. Morgan noted that before she achieved status as Assistant Director of Admissions, she had to start in beginner-level positions as an admissions recruiter and focused on operations.
What does this mean for me?
Not everyone takes the “typical” route into the field of education. Oftentimes, students can pursue alternative pathways into teaching, non-profit work, or policy by building on experience developed outside the classroom. Or, in Morgan’s case, they can show a unique passion for giving back to the community and dive in headfirst. Morgan has three pieces of advice she would like to part with students:
- Say yes to opportunities and become involved in the larger institutional community.
- Show and take initiative. Be a pioneer in an area that needs improvement or coverage.
- Make relationship building a priority. It's unlikely you'll succeed operating in silos.
Morgan started off like any other UVA undergraduate not necessarily knowing what she wanted to do, but ended up finding her passion in education. What will inspire you?
Do you have a UVA alumni story you would like to share, a semester/summer internship/job you're interested in highlighting, or a blogpost you would like to see? Email Kalea Obermeyer (email@example.com) or Kaitlyn Diaz (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your ideas!