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APSU College Possible coach earns prestigious award from White House

By: Khatir Stewart February 19, 2024

Olivia McClendonCLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - College Possible is an important partner to universities across the United States – and few know this better than Olivia McClendon, a College Possible success coach at Austin Peay who recently earned a President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the White House for clocking in over 4,000 service hours with the organization.

The College Possible program is a combined partnership between the AmeriCorps service agency and colleges and universities. Its goal is to provide first-year, first-generation and Pell-eligible students with one-to-one coaching, deep campus knowledge and focused attention. This helps students transition to the campus environment through college preparation, enrollment and persistence. This is accomplished through near-peer college success coaches like McClendon, who aim to help students navigate life on campus.

McClendon, an Austin Peay alumna, said service programs, extracurriculars and the campus community heavily influence student success, and she encourages students to get involved in different activities.

“As a first-generation student, I really messed up a lot,” she said. “There are so many things that you don’t know until you’re in the middle of navigating the situation. I don’t feel like I would have been as successful here without the support of my mentors, academic advisors, faculty and staff on campus and being involved.”

McClendon’s advice to first-generation students who are getting ready to start college or already attending is to ask for help. She said it was difficult for her to feel the need to rely on others as a student, but realized how necessary it was for her to have those bonds.