We recently sat down to catch up with CPA Alumni Tiara Weaver from the class of 2013. She attended Northwest Missouri State University where she studied Human Services. She has been working in education for the last 5 years, helping families gain access to quality education in St. Louis City, empowering them to advocate for their child and family.
Is there something that you will always remember from your high school experience?
The people. While the relationships have certainly changed over the years, the memories we made are forever. I am incredibly grateful for the people I had relationships with and the impact it had on me.
If you could create your own course in high school, what would it be and why?
Life after high school and college. When we left high school, I realized how much real world knowledge we did not have. Every year, graduating students talk about how they learned tons of things that may never be useful to them but don't know basic skills for everyday living.
What advice would you give to this year's seniors at CPA?
I have two pieces of advice. One, be open to possibilities. Whether you decide to go to college, a trade school or straight into the workforce, be open to opportunities that look different than the plan you have. I didn't intentionally plan to attend the university I ended up at. I didn't choose a degree in education. I never wanted to be a teacher. Choices, or a lack of choices, led to my first job in a school. Saying yes, to opportunities I didn't think I was qualified for led to my first promotion in education. I never would have guessed that I would be a teacher, never. Being open to possibilities changed my life. Be open because possibilities are truly endless.
Can you tell us about a project that you were particularly proud of during your college years?
The best experience from college was working with Alternative Spring Break. We did a week-long service project in Washington D.C. serving their unhoused community. It was an incredible experience to travel to a new place, and participate in such meaningful work. That program is what really sparked my interest and love of travel to this day .
Who encouraged you the most in high school/college?
I would love to say an adult or authority figure, but honestly it was the encouragement of my friends. Most of us were in the thick of it together. We were all facing similar struggles, with practically the limited resources. I'm not suggesting that I didn't have amazing adults who supported and encouraged me but there is something particularly empowering about friends who help you push forward and champion even the weakest part of you to keep going and get to the finish line, whatever that looks like for you.
How did your high school help prepare you for this career path?
I have given myself the experience of different career options since college. I have known my whole life that I would be a lawyer. That was always the plan, until it wasn't. High school helped me learn to be adaptable and open minded. I learned over and over again how to pivot and the power of trial and error. How to get up and try again. How to be a critical thinker and excellent problem solver.
My senior year, I had all my credits and was told I needed to fill my schedule. The only class available was Accounting I. That sounded like a lot of math, which meant I was not at all interested. I ended up in the class anyway and it was there that I learned to be exploratory and take chances and to step outside of my comfort zone. Solve the problem, try again, push your way through change. Whether I am in a classroom surrounded by 25 students feeling in over my head, or in the community building relationships with families and organizations to provide access to education, those lessons and skills are what push me forward.