By: Talon staff reporter Hannah Hart
The college process is complicated. Doing well in high school will help make applying easier, but there is more to the process such as meeting with representatives, visiting campuses, and navigating FAFSA. Luckily, HRVHS has someone to help students achieve their college dreams.
Lisa Roberts has been a paid employee at Hood River Valley for three years, but began volunteering in 2009 as an ASPIRE mentor. Last year Lisa mentored 50 kids, yet helped at least 100 students. “My favorite part I would say is helping the kids, meeting with the students, and helping them through the process,” says Roberts. “I love working with the kids.”
It is clear that over the years, Roberts has helped a lot of students achieve their college dreams, and with so many students to help, she is often very busy. Senior Beatriz Najera-Perez describes how Lisa has helped her: “I appreciate how much effort she puts into whatever she’s doing. Like for me for example, there was a point when I messed up my ACT registration and she called the ACT and she was relentless until she got it figured out for me, and that was really nice of her.”
Along with helping students, Roberts also spends a lot of her time helping mentors. “All of us ASPIRE mentors don’t feel like we know enough, we don’t know everything to help you kids,” says ASPIRE mentor Jonnie Andersen. “She’s just there for us, and for the kids.”
On the other hand, Roberts claims that the hardest part of her job is getting everything done in the right order. Roberts says she calls her job a “gotcha-job” because she must remember to complete tasks in the right order and remember each piece. Roberts recalls all the things she must remember for a field trip, “Did I order the bus because we have a field trip, did I put the sign up sheet up, did I do this, or did I do that, did I remember to do something?” Yet for one field trip, Roberts remembers the one thing she forgot, “We didn’t order a bus. We don’t have a bus. You know, you get 30 kids going on a bus and you don’t have a bus, that’s happened to me.”
Fortunately, her hard work in the ASPIRE program doesn’t go unnoticed. Roberts was nominated to represent Oregon at an ASPIRE conference held in Washington D.C. “D.C. was a big surprise,” says Roberts. “I was nominated through OSAC, which is ASPIRE.” There were two nominees from Oregon and Roberts was selected.
The purpose of the conference was to discuss the FAFSA and upcoming changes with it. “It was amazing because there were about 100 people there from state and federal government higher ed., and I was the only high school person there,” says Roberts about the conference. Being the only one at the conference who actually worked with students, Roberts says she answered the questions about why it is so hard to motivate students to fill out the FAFSA and what kind of difficulties students were facing with it, as well as how she motivated her students to complete it.
Although she was busy with the conference, Roberts still had time to enjoy the sights in D.C. The conference was held in the Eisenhower building on the White House grounds. Roberts was unable to tour the White House, but she was able to get ticket to tour another part of the grounds: “It’s a garden tour of the White House. And they only have it twice a year, and they haven’t had it since 9/11.” During this garden tour, Roberts saw many parts of the White House Grounds including the the Jacqueline Kennedy garden, the Rose Garden, and the South Garden. During this tour that was monitored by secret service agents Roberts had the opportunity to talk to one of the agents. “We were standing there, and I was looking at something, and one of these secret service guys was standing there and another secret service man walked up to this guy standing there and said ‘How’s your first day?’ and I’m like oh my God, it’s this guy’s first day as a secret service agent at the White House!” Roberts, because of her job connecting students to colleges and careers, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to find out what it took to become a secret service agent. “His supervisor said ‘don’t study criminal justice if you want to be a secret service agent.’ he said, ‘we study psychology or sociology.’”
Roberts has helped numerous students achieve their dreams. She is dedicated to her job and the future of the students of HRV. This dedication has not gone unnoticed by those she helps.“She is always willing to help people, and I think that’s inspiring,” says Najera-Perez. It is obvious that seniors have nothing to worry about with Roberts on their side.