Courtney Thomas, Manager of KIPP Through College, shares her journey before coming to KIPP Indy, what the KIPP Through College program is, and how this work energizes her. Questions and answers were edited for space and clarity.

In your own words, what is KIPP Through College?  

KIPP Through College (KTC) is a college counseling program that provides one-on-one and group counseling supports to all KIPP Indy students and alumni as they make post-secondary college and career plans. It is our mission to give students and alumni the supports needed to develop the knowledge, skills, and mindsets necessary to matriculate to and complete college. KTC programming begins as young as kindergarten and continues until students have graduated college and are entering careers. A few highlights of KTC are: planning college field trips for all grade levels, partnering with Marion County Promise to help families start 529 College Savings Accounts, providing one-on-one college and career counseling, and leading SAT/ACT test prep sessions. KTC focuses on supporting families in every step of the college application and enrollment process. Once students are in college, KTC assists students with academic and career planning, in addition to supporting with planning for financial aid.

What attracted you to KIPP Indy and the role on the KIPP Through College team? 

I had a lot of friends who were already working at KIPP Indy and I knew the passion they had in supporting their students. Everyone I knew who worked at KIPP Indy put their everything into making sure their students had what they needed to be successful. I also served as a homebound tutor at KIPP Indy for a few years in the afternoons with students who needed additional time with their school work. Then, when I was in my final year of graduate school for my Master’s in School Counseling, the KTC role opened—I applied and the rest is history.

What did you do professionally before working at KIPP Indy?

I was a college and career counselor with Jobs for America’s Graduates and worked with students at different high schools across Indianapolis. The Jobs for America’s Graduates program was for high school juniors and seniors who qualified for additional resources and supports as they made post-secondary plans. I was also a program manager at the University of Indianapolis for a year where I worked closely with high school students who participated in pre-health professions programs on campus. 

What is one unique aspect about working at KIPP Indy that you think others should know?  

I believe something unique about KIPP Indy is the deep ties we have to the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood and community. We take pride in ensuring we are not only making decisions with students and families, but with the larger community as well.

What are the goals and responsibilities in your current role? What do you look forward to when you come to work each day? 

My biggest goal each year is to make sure seniors have the resources and support needed to make solid, successful post-secondary plans; this includes assistance with college applications, FAFSA completion, ACT/SAT test prep, and college and career planning workshops. I am also very intentional in building strong relationships with all Legacy High students. These strong relationships are critical to being best prepared to assist students in making solid post-secondary plans. My ultimate goal is to ensure students are set up for success once they graduate high school and able to live a choice-filled life.

Each day, I look forward to interacting with students and encouraging them in any way I can. I am energized by our phenomenal students and the amazing things they continue to accomplish. It is a privilege to work with such inspiring students!

How does KTC support students’ post-high school, college, or career? 

After high school graduation, KTC counselors continue to provide support and guidance to all alumni. Counselors support students with their transition to college, including class registration, orientation, and scholarship research. Throughout the time that a student is in college, KTC counselors support them through academic challenges, changing career plans, and ongoing financial aid needs.

How does KTC partner with the community? 

KTC partners with the community by working with organizations that promote college and career opportunities for students. To name a few, we’ve partnered with Edna Martin Christian Center, Center for Leadership Development, Indiana Latino Institute, 100 Black Men, 21st Century Scholars, and Marion County Promise. KTC also maintains strong partnerships with companies, local organizations, colleges, and universities in order to expose students early on to different interests they may have for their post-secondary opportunities.

How can individuals outside of KIPP Indy get involved with KTC?  

We are always looking for individuals to get involved with KTC. You can contact KIPP Indy and they can put you in contact with our team to discuss your interest and opportunities. A few opportunities include: 8th Grade Career Day, 7th Grade Mock Interview Day, job shadowing opportunities for our high school students, and guest speaking opportunities at Legacy High. Additionally, financial support of KTC is critically important. KTC is completely privately funded; therefore, we depend on the communities’ support in order provide the vast amount of services that we offer.