WCSU graduate prepares Washington students to pursue college degree
Nicole Struth crosses the nation for AmeriCorps service in Anacortes school district
DANBURY, CONN. — Nicole Struth entered Western Connecticut State University in search of direction in her education and career goals — now the new WCSU graduate is crossing the country to motivate high school students in Washington state to pursue their own dreams.
Struth, a Bethel resident who received a bachelor’s degree in political science in December, has begun a yearlong appointment arranged through the national service organization AmeriCorps to coordinate college preparedness and community outreach programs in the school district of Anacortes, located on Fidalgo Island along Washington’s northern Pacific coast. An important element of her position, which she assumed at the beginning of February, will be to coordinate the district’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, an instructional resource for teachers, students and parents to strengthen academic and testing skills required to improve readiness for college admission.
“The work that I do will help to make sure that students with average grades who have the drive and desire to go on to post-secondary education will be able to obtain the skills necessary to be successful in achieving their educational goals,” Struth said.
During her AmeriCorps year of service, she also has been assigned the task of recruiting parents and other volunteers to train for roles as classroom tutors and guest speakers at Anacortes district schools. In addition, she will participate in organizing and conducting fundraising efforts to support student enrichment activities.
Struth knows well from her own experience at WCSU that students often need mentoring and guidance to define their academic objectives and how to achieve them. She credited her discovery of her own academic and professional interests to faculty mentors including Professor of Political Science Dr. Chris Kukk and Professor of Political Science and Conflict Studies Dr. Averell Manes.
“I started my education at Western not knowing exactly where I was going, until I stumbled into one of Dr. Kukk’s classes,” she said. “His teaching style motivated me and made me realize that I wanted to go into the field of political science.”
She recalled another pivotal moment in her WCSU education came when she enrolled in Manes’ Conflict Resolution course. “Her passion convinced me that I can make real-world changes that benefit those around me,” she said. “The political science and conflict resolution programs at WCSU have given me the tools to understand and work with the different community dynamics that I will face as an AmeriCorps volunteer.”
Kukk noted that Struth gained valuable preparation for her present position from her studies at Western as well as her internship in the Connecticut state legislature. “Nicole is always thinking how her words and actions can benefit others,” he said. “From helping other students understand concepts in classes to assisting constituents during her political internship in Hartford, Nicole draws energy from serving others. She is a perfect fit for AmeriCorps.”
Struth looks forward to making a difference as a mentor to students in the Anacortes school district with average or below-average grades who are determined to seek a college education. At the same time, she anticipates that her service year will set the foundations for the next stage in pursuing her career goals.
“After my AmeriCorps service, I plan to apply for the Peace Corps, and I also expect to go on to graduate school to study international affairs,” she said. “I feel that the Peace Corps and graduate studies will give me the opportunity to put my desire to promote peaceful development into action.”
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Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.