Our career and college readiness staff has grown tremendously this year as we increase our presence in Minneapolis and Saint Paul public high schools. We're thrilled to welcome several new talented and passionate staff to our team, including Lisa Beckham, our new career and college readiness program manager!
Lisa came to Achieve from the University of Minnesota, where she advised students on professional development opportunities. In her new role, Lisa provides leadership and management support for our Minneapolis Career & College Centers. She's also busy developing new career exposure strategy, systems and opportunities for our school-based work in collaboration with the Step Up Youth Employment Program and our district and community partners.
We asked Lisa to reflect back on her time as a student, share some favorite memories and talk about her work so far at Achieve.
What was your favorite class in high school and why?
I LOVED my calculus II class. Math classes were always my favorite courses in high school. I was a junior when I took Calc II and felt so honored to be in a class with super smart seniors. They would always give me advice about what to do to prepare for college. My favorite part of the class was our year-end project. We had to go to different elementary schools and teach a math lesson. I had so much fun and met so many people in the community.
Did you have a favorite teacher or other adult who made a big difference for you? Who was that person and why?
I had so many amazing teachers and adults in my life growing up. One that stands out was my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Denny. I grew up in Florida and Mrs. Denny was the first teacher to suggest I switch to the accelerated learning track. She gathered all of the 6th grade teachers together and convinced them to put me in accelerated courses. After this happened I immediately thrived. When I moved to Wisconsin during high school, I was the only black person that took AP courses, I have no idea where I’d be now if it wasn’t for Mrs. Denny’s advocacy.
What did you enjoy most about your high school years, in or out of school?
The freedom I experienced when my friends and I learned to drive! When my friends got their licenses, we took quick day trips to Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee. They weren’t too far from where I lived, but it was so freeing to be able to hop in a car and see a different place.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A spy. When I was younger, I was so committed to being a spy that I never told anyone I wanted to be one (just in case it happened). I blame my dad for all the James Bond movies he watched while I was growing up.
If you could go back in time and have a conversation with your teen-aged self, what would you say?
Keep up your studies, it gets better, and it’ll pay off. Also, it’s ok to be a math-nerd.
What do you like most about working at Achieve so far?
I love how intelligent everyone is. The people I work with do not take decision-making lightly and they’re very cognizant of including multiple voices and perspectives in their decisions. I truly respect and appreciate how open, honest, and thoughtful my colleagues are while working with youth and the community.