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AmeriCorps member helps students
Ernesto Duran hypes Lions fans, helps students go to college
Whenever there is a Detroit Lions home game, Ernesto Duran is out on the field, running around with a flag and getting the fans hyped. Now entering his fourth season as a runner, he enjoys being a part of the game day experience as well as helping out on the marketing side.
Over the last three years, when Duran wasn’t hyping up Lion’s faithful, he served as a college advisor at Millington High School. His service are part of the AmeriCorps program AdviseMI. It places recent college graduates in select high schools across Michigan to support students as they make the transition from high school to postsecondary education. Oftentimes, these high schools are in communities with low college-going and adult educational attainment rates.
Dance is a passion of Duran’s and he wanted to study and research the art and philosophy behind it. While studying dance at Oakland University, Duran became involved in the admissions process. He started off by working at the undergraduate office giving campus tours. He began to work his way up, becoming a programming assistant. In this role, he helped facilitate tours and organize campus open houses. Through these experiences, Duran is introduced to the AdviseMI program.
Duran graduated in the spring of 2020, right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With many businesses shut down, he was left looking for a job in a less-than-stellar market. Due to his work on campus, he had familiarity with the AdviseMI program and some of the people that were a part of it. With the program still running, despite the pandemic, he applied and took an AmeriCorps role at Millington High School.
Being a first-generation college student, Duran knows what it is like to not have many resources available. He wanted students to know that there were options for them.
“The reason I wanted to serve in the first place is because I constantly felt like I wasn’t necessarily in my place,” Duran said. “I’m a first-generation college student, I’m Latino, I was a male dance major. I check all the boxes. I wanted to show them that if you are passionate about or enjoy doing something, you should go do it, even if you think people are going to call you crazy.”
During his service, he helped show students the multitude of options available to them after graduation. He would set up campus visits and invite colleges and trade schools to come in and speak to the students. He helped students fill out the necessary forms so that they would be able to get to desired destinations. He assured every senior applied to Mott Community College just so they had options.
Duran believes that a big reason he could make such an impact at Millington was because of his ability to relate. He involved himself to be a role model and provide the help that they may otherwise have not gotten.
“I know what it’s like to want to go right to work,” Duran said. “Literally, put the boots on as soon as you walk out of there and you know you have a good paying job, that you’re a part of a union, all that stuff. I think that’s why ultimately it worked. I could relate to those students being misunderstood, counted out.”
Duran emphasized a personal connection with every kid. He met with all of his students one-on-one to make sure openly discuss what post-graduation may look like for them. He would call the parents and offer to stay after school to be able to talk to them about their kid(s). He would be available for every kid when they needed him and he planned to show up whenever needed.
“I feel like I hit the jackpot being able to serve at Millington,” Duran said. “I was their first adviser. It was a super supportive site at Millington. The AdviseMI program was also incredibly supportive. That helped make the transition pretty smooth.”
Duran would recommend serving to anyone interested.
“When you get the feeling of okay, how can I make a win out of every day? It’s a bonus,” Duran said. “But the payoff, the payout of that investment over time, that’s something you can’t put a number on. You can’t beat it.”