CLC College and Career Navigator Guides CHSD 117 Students with a Plan for Their Future

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CLC Navigator: CHSD117

Community High School District 117 welcomes Michelle Gutierrez, a College of Lake County College and Career Navigator, to help high school students at Antioch and Lakes Community High Schools with their college and career planning. A CLC College and Career Navigator has a mixture of responsibilities, from planning college events for students at the two high schools, recruiting and onboarding students to CLC, and advising them about the college planning process in general. 

Michelle Gutierrez’s own educational path has come first circle, starting at the College of Lake County and coming back to it once again. Ms. Gutierrez is from Gurnee and attended CLC her first semester out of Warren High School. She had a wonderful experience and felt the professors and rigor at CLC were great. She then transferred to Carthage College, double majored in German and Music, as interdisciplinary studies was encouraged. Ms. Gutierrez always had teaching in the back of her mind, and after Carthage, she taught English in Germany through a Fulbright program. This program ignited a passion in her of working with students, so she got her masters degree in teaching music education at Northwestern University. She has since taught elementary music in Highland Park and high school choir in Madison, Wisconsin. While teaching choir in Madison, she also taught a College and Career Readiness class, where she would have very real conversations with students about their future. It was so fulfilling to help students, so when Ms. Gutierrez saw the CLC College and Career Navigator position, she knew it was the perfect position for her. After getting married this July, Ms. Gutierrez started as a CLC College and Career Navigator and is assigned to CHSD 117, where she splits her time at each high school two days per week. 

Ms. Gutierrez’s daily schedule varies, but her main goal is helping students find their success. She enjoys working in the two schools and being part of both school communities and culture. Ms. Gutierrez meets with students individually, she helps them find the resources they need, has conversations about postsecondary goals and plans, and discusses different career paths with students. This can involve taking classes that are available at CLC to pursue a degree or to go into the trades. She helps students apply for college, send transcripts, apply for financial aid – whatever students need, Ms. Gutierrez is an added resource to the college and career advising students get from their high school counselors. Ms. Gutierrez wants to help demystify the process of applying to college and wants to make it attainable for any student who wants that as the next step in their career path. She love the schools, feels very welcomed, and collaborates with the college counselors. She is impressed with how the students are asking lots of questions and want to make informed decisions for themselves. Counselors and staff have already said how beneficial it is to have a CLC College and Career Navigator in the building, easily accessible for students and staff. 

Ms. Gutierrez believes that authentic and comfortable relationships are her key to success with students. She has made it her aim to get involved in the district, get to know staff and administration, and help with the needs of the schools and their students. She wants students to know that she is available to help with navigating any classes that CLC has to offer, including dual credit classes in the high schools and those at Tech Campus. She wants the CHSD 117 staff to know that she can be a resource to them as well, and she is willing to come speak to classes about CLC. 

Ms. Gutierrez has planned some field trips for CHSD 117 to CLC for early graduates and she has planned an application drive. Ms. Gutierrez believes that this role was created for accessibility and equity. Not every student has the guidance that some do at home about postsecondary plans, college, and careers, and some students may need some extra assistance. Every student can have multiple options for their future, and Ms. Gutierrez is more than willing to help them find their path. 

Ms. Gutierrez’s position is funded through a generous donor, and CLC College and Career Navigators are positioned in some other Lake Country schools. Ms. Gutierrez hopes that she can raise the number of students applying to CLC, promote the trades, raise awareness about the many classes available at CLC, and help students discover viable career options. A good number of seniors apply to CLC every year, making it the college that receives the most applications from CHSD 117 students. Ms. Gutierrez has many other exciting plans on the horizon for students, like opportunities to engage families and CLC alumni, and more field trips to CLC and the Advanced Technology Center.

Where can you find Ms. Gutierrez? 

Mondays/Thursdays: LCHS College and Career Center

Tuesdays/Fridays: ACHS College and Career Center

Students can drop in during lunch or study hall, or make an appt via michelle.guiterrez@chsd117.org.