Overcoming barriers to help others do the same

As a college undergrad, Rhiannon Diamond felt lost. “I felt very alone and I didn’t know what I was doing.” Now as an InsideTrack Success Coach, she has a clear understanding of what students are going through. “As a coach,” she says, “I hear those same tones in people’s voices or the same language around feeling alone or not knowing what to do. I want to be the guide for them that I wish I had.”

Rhiannon says that higher education is important to her because she came from a community where it wasn’t really a focus. “Most people saw college as a crazy pipe dream and thought getting a job right out of high school was the way to go.” She was part of a group of seven high school seniors that were motivated to get out and experience college, seeing the benefits of getting a degree. “Towards the end of our senior year, one by one, everyone in this group decided not to attend college. One had parents who didn’t think it was worth the expense. Another saw the logistics of what it would take to move to college and they pulled out.” But Rhiannon persisted. “I’ve noticed a definite shift in my quality of life versus my friends who didn’t go to college. Getting a degree is really important for breaking the cycle of poverty and the work is worth it.”

Since the pandemic, Rhiannon has seen a rise in healthcare workers looking to go back to school. “In my role as an enrollment coach, I notice a lot of healthcare workers who are suffering from emotional fatigue. They spend their entire day helping other people and putting other people first — so much so that they get burned out, and miss things like enrollment deadlines or forget about why they wanted to go back to college in the first place. As a coach, it’s important to have these conversations so the learners can be taken care of for once, and they can have an advocate who listens to their story and their struggles. From there, we can have a conversation on how they can reprioritize themselves.”

Rhiannon remembers a particular coaching interaction she had during the height of the pandemic — a video chat with an 18-year-old freshman. “Even though it was a scary time and she wasn’t able to have a roommate or visitors in the dorm because of COVID, she lit up being able to lift up her camera and show me her dorm room. It’s a great feeling when you really connect with a learner. And that feeling opened up all of the gratification of talking to students and helping them overcome their obstacles. I fell in love with connecting with and supporting my students.”

When she’s not coaching, Rhiannon enjoys the fiber arts — knitting, crochet and embroidery. She’s a painter, too, and sees a lot of similarities between coaching and her creative process. “When I start a painting, I have a whole idea in my head of what it’s going to look like. As I work my way through the painting, I do a lot of problem-solving and reassessing of what’s working and what needs to be fixed. Nine times out of 10, when I finish the painting, it’s beautiful — but it doesn’t look anything like I thought it would in the beginning.”

“I spent a long time having a million sticky notes on the institution, the program information and everything I thought might come up in a coaching session. That led me to having some very scripted, almost robotic conversations. But the more I trusted myself to know the information I’ve been discussing for months and just connect with people, the better these conversations have been. This has allowed for much deeper connections.”

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