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    Does your school need a HERO? Meet Joey Medrano… Your connection to all things Upswing on your campus

    Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Some can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Others can slay dragons or banish an ogre. Closer to home, you’ll find heroes who care for the sick, put out fires, protect our streets and teach our children. Then there’s Joey Medrano, Upswing’s Senior Higher Education Retention Officer, or Super HERO

    A good hero has a good origin story

    As a first generation Latino college student, Joey found himself alone and adrift when he first moved onto the campus of Sam Houston State University in Texas. Unlike other students, he didn’t have family members or close friends to share their insights or prep him on what to expect. This lack of guidance caused him to struggle with what most incoming freshmen see as simple tasks — like how to register for classes, which books to buy, and who to ask for help. Doubts about belonging quickly set in and before long, Joey began to isolate himself, making his challenges that much harder.

    One day while walking around campus, Joey noticed a group of people playing Ultimate Frisbee. “They noticed me too,” he said laughing, “and they could clearly see the struggle written all over my face.” One of them started a conversation with him and in a matter of minutes, Joey was tossing the Frisbee around with a group of people who would soon become his close friends and college support system.

    So how does this hero story end? Joey worked hard, got good grades, earned his degree and got an internship. After graduating, he spent a year in China teaching English. After that, he worked as an admission counselor at Sam Houston State University for two years. And now he’s a Super HERO at Upswing — ready to bring his superpowers to your school.

    Dedicated help from a HERO like no other

    Because of his background as a first generation college student, Joey has a deep firsthand understanding of what students are up against in their drive to earn a degree. He knows how difficult it can be just dealing with the basics of attending college. “To me,” he says, “being a HERO means being able to support students who are in the position I was in when I was in school. It also means being able to support college administrators in their mission to retain students and be their voice in all things Upswing.”

    Stories that stick

    One of Joey’s favorite things about being an Upswing HERO is getting to do collaborative work with partner schools that ultimately benefits students. “I remember one student at Bethune-Cookman University who messaged Ana (Upswing’s virtual assistant) about mental health support, maintenance issues, and struggling in school, saying they had nowhere else to turn to. They were feeling like dropping out. We worked with the school and their respective departments to get the assistance the student needed. I remember the administrator calling me saying how thankful they were that the student got the help they needed.”

    Joey continues, saying “The stories of the students who are deeply impacted by what we do at Upswing are the most rewarding part of my work. Knowing we were able to help, along with the school administrators, makes me so thankful for the work we do.”

    A superpower that drives support

    Joey cites “relationship building” with the student support administrators he works with as his super power. “I want them to be able to come to me about everything and actually have a friendship,” he says.

    To that end, a typical day for Joey in his HERO role includes meeting with his administrators to go over any updates they have, and ensuring that they are represented during internal meetings about how to continually grow and improve the Upswing platform.

    Increase awareness

    As someone who works with college administrators and support staff each day, what superpower does Joey think higher ed could use right now?

    “Awareness,” he says. ”Higher education needs s bigger light when it comes to some of the issues students AND administrators are facing — a light that shines awareness on these issues.”

    You need a hero!

    What does Joey Medrano say to college administrators considering partnering with Upswing?

    “When we work together, it’s a true partnership — not a vendor relationship. I’ll support you every step of the way and ensure that the program is successful at your school.” From a higher ed hero whose favorite things to do are spend time with his two dogs and read comic books — naturally! — you’d better believe he’s sincere.

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