Ava’s Success Story

Ava McCargish

  • 2017 Whetstone High School Graduate
  • 2021 The Ohio State University Graduate, Public Management, Leadership, and Policy

Few people have experienced and witnessed I Know I Can’s benefits like Ava McCargish. For four years as a student at Whetstone High School, Ava received assistance from her College Advising Manager whom she credits with showing her that she could be a successful college student. Fast forward four years after high school graduation and Ava possessed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Management, Leadership, and Policy from The Ohio State University and was working for I Know I Can as an AmeriCorps College Guide helping younger students at Whetstone gain the same confidence and skill

As a student, Ava sought the advice of her College Advising Manager (CAM) throughout her high school career. “My CAM helped empower me to feel like college was 100% an option for me and was accessible. I’m not sure I would have believed that without his help,” she says. She recalls spending a lot of time in the corner of the library with her CAM understanding her options. After being dismissed by an adult who thought her ACT scores were too low to pursue a college path, Ava got reassurance from her CAM. He walked her through all the steps to help her figure out her best postsecondary plan. Together, they worked on essays for college applications, financial aid opportunities, and the FAFSA. She applied for and received $1,200 per year from the I Know I Can grant, began school at The Ohio State University–Newark, and made her college dreams come true.

After finding her passion in public policy during her undergraduate days, Ava sought opportunities to learn about how systems work and how she could be a catalyst for change. Upon graduating with her degree in Public Management, Leadership, and Policy, Ava decided to take a gap year before graduate school to give back by working as an AmeriCorps College Guide for I Know I Can. Remembering the power of connection and the importance of being a trusted adult, Ava returned to Whetstone High School to help younger students follow in her footsteps. She recalls, “I wanted to show the students that there were many pathways to success. You don’t have to be at the top of the class in high school to go to college and be successful. I loved seeing the lightbulb go off as students heard my story and found hope in their future.”

After serving her one-year term as an AmeriCorps member, Ava returned to The Ohio State University to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Administration. She is currently finishing her second and final year and interning at the Wexner Medical Center where she is working toward better outcomes for infant and maternity mortality. And thanks to her success and hard work, Ava will be graduating debt-free in May.

We are so proud of Ava’s accomplishments and can’t wait to see what she does next.

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