Over the course of almost two decades, Bay College graduate Amanda Bloxton-Kippola’s life has come full circle. While she was once a first-generation college student at Bay, she now assists today’s first-generation students in her role as TRIO’s program coordinator.
Amanda graduated from Baraga Junior/Senior High School in 2002. Later that year, she and a friend went to Escanaba with the intent of signing up for classes at Bay.
“I actually came here with somebody who wanted to enroll in the nursing program,” she said.
While Amanda’s friend ultimately decided not to enroll, Amanda did. She started taking classes at Bay in the fall 2002 semester as a business major.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and that was a pretty general degree to have,” she said.
Part of her difficulty in choosing a career pathway was due to her status as a first-generation college student. However, her teachers and peers helped her learn how to thrive in college.
“I loved the smaller class sizes,” Amanda said.
In 2004, Amanda earned an associate degree in business from Bay. For her first step into the working world, she returned to her hometown.
“I went back to Baraga and got a job with the village. I did several things there: I was the deputy treasurer, I did utility billing, and I was on the board for the wastewater authority,” she said.
Amanda then moved to Florida and worked for The Coca-Cola Company as a distribution administrator for about nine years. After working in central Florida for a while, she transferred to a bottling plant in Negaunee.
Eventually, Amanda decided to take her career in a different direction.
“I finally decided what I wanted to do with my life – I went back to school at Northern Michigan University and got a bachelor’s degree in social work,” she said.
Amanda went on to get a master’s degree in this field in 2020. Along the way, she worked in several positions related to child welfare, including a stint as a victim advocate.
After getting a master’s degree, Amanda decided to put it to use while making a career change. Noting that many people who experience crises make life changes like going back to school afterward, she decided to follow them there. In October 2021, she returned to Bay College to work with the TRIO program.
As a program coordinator for TRIO, Amanda oversees the program’s day-to-day operations and works with Director Amy Gibbs on operational concerns. She also supports the low-income college students, college students with disabilities, and first-generation college students that TRIO focuses on helping.
According to Amanda, it has not been hard for her to connect with these students since she was once a first-generation student herself.
“I was that, and I can really relate,” she said.
Amanda said it has been interesting to see how her old college campus has improved over the years with the addition of spaces like the new library and the Hub, where her office is. She also appreciates that the college has not done away with the elements that set it apart.
“It has and it hasn’t changed. There’s still a lot of that one-on-one feel,” she said.
Finally, she noted that her time as a Bay student helped her prepare for her job at the school.
“I still utilize skills from when I gained my associate degree. It was the first time I considered that I could be a professional,” Amanda said.