Sarah Bredar is a 2020 Ball State English graduate who is currently located in Phoenix, Arizona. She works as a College and Career Coach for a nonprofit organization. When she isn’t working with students, Bredar may be spending her time painting, solving puzzles or camping in the Southwest.
Where are you now? What are you doing career/job-wise?
After graduation, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona where I still reside. I work for ElevateEdAZ, a nonprofit through the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation, as a College and Career Coach with Trevor G. Browne High School.
What significant challenges have you faced throughout your career and how have you handled them?
I started my career as a reading teacher for the Cartwright Elementary School District, where I taught middle school ELA for two years. When COVID struck, schools and public service fields got hit hard–particularly in low-income areas. I struggled to teach when my students’ families were experiencing extreme loss, threats of deportation, violence, mental health struggles, and more. It was incredibly rewarding to work in the community I was teaching in, but I soon realized that I was not best serving my students and families from the classroom. I burned out and left teaching after my second year.
When I decided to leave the classroom, I struggled with how I could continue using my English teaching degree to impact my students. I then got the opportunity to serve the same community I taught in through my current role as a College and Career Coach. I now work with students aiming for high-wage, high-demand careers, and connect educators with support from the business and post-secondary communities to help them succeed. Since taking this position, I haven’t looked back! I have loved this new and unique opportunity to continue working with my families and students that still uses my degree, but in an innovative way!
Do you have any specific methods you plan on using/are using to help students at your current place of work?
Working with high school students preparing for their futures is the touchstone of my position. Focusing on opportunities available or increasingly available here in Phoenix, I connect students with a myriad of resources to help them be prepared for post-secondary plans after graduating high school. Some of these resources include: career fairs, professionalism and resume workshops, job shadows, guest speakers, and internship placements. I also work 1:1 with many students, including some of my former kiddos from when I was a teacher!
Additionally, my organization and I are working on collaborating with other community resources that provide wrap-around support (like professional clothing assistance, transportation help, affordable or free childcare) so students have increased access to these resources.
What advice do you have for students who are unsure about their career path?
My advice to students unsure of a career path is to not limit yourself. When I graduated from Ball State, I went for the sure, safe career choice for my degree. After moving across the country, and experiencing new cultures and places, my eyes opened to so many opportunities I didn’t know I could access. I pushed myself to do something out of my comfort zone, and so far, it has paid off more than I could ever expect!
What advice do you have for students who are experiencing ‘burnout?’
My advice to students is to not be afraid to prioritize your own health over other things. It’s easy to get wrapped up in comparing yourself to how other people are doing–taking more credit hours than you, participating in more clubs, getting internships, balancing school and personal life, etc.–but everyone’s threshold is different. If what you’re taking on is causing more stress than benefit to your experience, reevaluate what you are wanting to get out of it. It’s definitely something I wish I had done as a student myself!
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
What I enjoy most abo is the flexibility that we are able to have as College and Career Coaches. Each week brings new opportunities for who we work with, whether students, educators, or community business partners, and for what we do. One week I could be hosting a career exploration fair for 800 students, and the next, I could be bringing a class of students to a job shadow with a prominent company in Phoenix!
As a former cardinal, do you have a favorite Ball State landmark?
As a former cardinal, I have to say my favorite Ball State landmark is the Quad. In between classes and club meetings, I would bring a picnic blanket on warm days and draw, read, or just relax surrounded by all the buildings and trees!
For more information, visit the English Department’s website and hear more stories like this!