Duration of partnership - 10 years
6,000 students impacted over 10 years
When Cecilia Zahedi, Lead Counselor for Gulfport High School, became an educator 16 years ago, her training and district focus taught her that the core role of the counselor is to push for high school graduation. Graduation goals, while very important, can eat away at the limited resources and time of a public high school counselor. Realizing the need to look beyond graduation, Ms. Zahedi discovered Education Services Foundation’s Get2College in 2003 and prioritized encouraging students to prepare for college acceptance and success.
Get2College is sponsored by Education Services Foundation, a statewide non-profit whose mission is to help Mississippi students go to college and be successful. Today, the college counselor team travels to more than 70 percent of high schools in Mississippi to speak to students and parents about applying to and paying for college.
Gulfport High School was among the first to engage with Get2College’s student-focused mission by inviting a college counselor to speak with students on campus. In 2009, Ms. Zahedi identified the need for parents to receive assistance to complete required financial aid paperwork. That year Gulfport High School was one of ten schools in the state to host an in-school financial-aid assistance event.
In 2011, Education Services Foundation concentrated on the college-related needs of south Mississippi by opening the Gulf Coast Get2College Center. This new center allowed three Get2College counselors to focus their full-time efforts on 27 schools along the coast, including support to create a comprehensive college culture at schools like Gulfport High.
Since inception of the Get2College Center, 14 college-related workshops have been held for Gulfport High School students and parents. College campus tours have been arranged for students, and professional development training courses have been provided for high school counselors. The center also provided an ACT test preparation workshop for Gulfport High School faculty. Today, more than 80 percent of Gulfport High School students attend college.