“We don’t care how much you make, or how much you have, we just want to be able to help these kids make their dream come true.”
This is what new City of Hammond College Bound Coordinator, Courtney Margraf, said to me when I asked her about the heart of the program; the driving force behind doing what she does.
Margraf is not new to the City of Hammond nor is she new to the College Bound program. Hammond is the city she grew up in and the program she started off at in 2008 when she began working with Mayor McDermott’s office.
Now, seven years later, Margraf tells IIMM she feels fortunate to return to a job she is so passionate about and program that has the resources to continue making a positive impact in the lives of Hammond youth.
“Back when I came on board in 2008, the program was serving 100 students,” Margraf explained. “Now I am managing about 550 students across approximately 30 different universities. The mass amount of people Mayor McDermott has been able to help provide an education for is amazing.”
Admittedly, with this added growth comes added challenges in her job. But when you love what you do, Margraf explains, it’s absolutely worth it.
“With this growth, we’re now having to find community service work for all these students,” Margraf told IIMM. “But now with the resources we have at the Mayor’s office, a lot of these kids are finding ways to volunteer in areas they are interested in. For example, if they are a Political Science major we can find them a position at the Mayor’s office.”
“This program is helping these kids get real world experience.”
And now with the recent renewal of the College Bound program for an additional twelve years, comes a message of stability for Hammond youth, adds Margraf.
This stability, in turn, serves as a beacon of hope for these kids that if they are willing to put in the work towards their dream of going to college then there is an opportunity.
“We have students and parents dropping off info and asking about the program when these kids are in elementary and middle school now. This program just keeps growing and keeps getting more and more positive as we go along.”
And whether it’s 100, 550, or 5,050 students – whatever the future holds for the growth of the College Bound program – it’s each and every individual opportunity to see a Hammond student get a chance at an education, a chance at a future, that drives Margraf to do what she does.
“This program is my passion.”