Teaches students that the journey isn’t always linear
"Your career path will change five (or more) times throughout your life." It’s an adage we hear over and over again, especially as we transition into higher education, whether from high school or from the workforce.
But when Candace Rayburn, admissions counselor and Indiana College Core management specialist, started her degree, she thought that sentiment didn’t apply to her. She attended IU Bloomington with a major in biology and plans to enter the medical field. But, as it turned out, that wasn’t the next chapter of her story.
"I finished the degree, and I realized medical school might not be it," Rayburn said. "I never really did the research to find out what I wanted."
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she decided to take some accounting classes, and soon ended up working in higher education and financial aid. "I found that my passion was in helping the younger generation. I know for a fact my passion is in higher education," she said.
Today, Rayburn is using her passion to encourage high school students to look toward their futures. In her role as admissions counselor, she visits high schools, talks with incoming IU Northwest freshmen, and promotes all the university has to offer. Recently, she has also begun to coordinate Advanced College Placement courses for high schoolers.
Rayburn wears many hats in the admissions office, from recruiting to counseling to coordinating. However, in everything she does, she’s motivated by student success. "You know what the most rewarding part is? Just seeing students succeed. That’s really fulfilling to know I was able to encourage someone else," she said.
More specifically, she’s interested in helping students streamline their career goals. Rayburn hopes that, with her guidance, students can find their passions early and not have to "go around the mulberry bush," like she did.
"My hope is to be impactful," she said. "When I see students doing well and staying committed to their goals, and I know that I might have encouraged them—that makes me feel good."
Through her work at the campus, Rayburn strives to have an impact, not only on students, but on the greater community. A Gary native and valedictorian of her class at William A. Wirt High School, she sees her position as a form of giving back.
"I get an opportunity to go and talk to people from the city I came from," she said. "It’s giving back in a sense—being able to impart knowledge so they can make the best decisions for themselves."
All in all, Rayburn hopes the haphazard journey to her current position helps someone else along the way. For her part, she views her story as "still being written." And it’s clear that the subsequent pages will be all about leaving a positive impact on her community (and, hopefully, a courtside seat at an NBA game—but that’s just a bonus!).