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College and Career Coordinator, Molly Bonnet, Experiences Accolades and Adventure

College and Career Coordinator, Molly Bonnet, Experiences Accolades and Adventure

Molly Bonnett Molly Bonnett has been pouring herself into her role as College and Career Coordinator for Forest Lake Area High School. If you want to see how much influence she is having with students, just stand outside of her office for a short while. There is a never-ending stream of students coming and going. Every student has a different issue which varies widely from questions about 4-year colleges to signing up for the next school experience in the trades.

Bonnett and other award recipients tour NDSU campus Recently, Bonnett has had two very positive and diverse experiences. Bonnett was identified and honored as a Distinguished Education Professional by North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota. In a completely different arena, Bonnett was selected to participate in the Marine Educators Workshop in San Diego, California. Information on both of these experiences, as well as more detail about Bonnett herself are detailed below.

Each year, NDSU recognizes educators who work as student advocates for higher education. Over a snowy couple of days, Bonnett and other honorees were hosted by NDSU for an awards luncheon and given the opportunity to mix with the university’s students and staff.  Find a link to their press release here.

Andrew Wolf, an NDSU admissions counselor reached out to Bonnett to share his appreciation of her efforts:

Bonnett receiving Distinguished Education Professional award “My colleague, Matt Henry, mentioned that you were one of his favorite counselors to work with in this area. I quickly discovered why, as you greeted me with a warm smile and sincere handshake at the Forest Lake College Fair this past fall. You maintain this kindly countenance in your interactions with students, too, and your impact on their lives cannot be understated. They [the students] ask questions usually reserved for parents, such is their comprehension of the college search process. This is a direct reflection of your own counseling philosophy: “No two students are the same. We cannot expect them to walk the same path: however, we can give them the tools and support to navigate, with confidence, their own path to success.”

Your words resonated with both me and the Distinguished Education Professional Committee. For this reason, and many more, I could not be happier that you were selected as a 2019 NDSU Distinguished Education Professional award recipient. You truly deserve this honor, Molly, and I know your students would say the same.”

~Excerpt from Award Recognition Letter from Andrew Wolf

Below you will find an interview with Mrs. Bonnett:

Please tell us about yourself.

This is my second year as Forest Lake Area High School’s College and Career Coordinator, a position that I adore. After graduating from the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University with a degree in economics, I was the Loss Prevention Manager at U.S. Bank. Eventually, I decided to return to school and earn my social studies teaching license. For years, I predominately stayed home while my husband and I raised our four children. During that time, I frequently subbed with Forest Lake Area Schools.

How did you become interested in College and Career issues for high school students?

Those subbing days led to many conversations with high school students about their plans after graduating. Economics is the science of decision making. I have always felt students can only make decisions that best align their interests, skills, goals, and financial impact if they fully understand all of their options and the trade offs each option holds.  

What do you like most about working with students?

Post-secondary planning often causes uncertainty and anxiety for students. I love exposing students to opportunities and information that helps quell those feelings. Whether they are hearing from a professional in a career field of interest, meeting with a college representative, touring manufacturing companies, or job shadowing, they are working to learn more about themselves and what is important to them. I also find my conversations with students to be immensely rewarding. It is great fun to help students untangle their interests, goals, strengths, and financial considerations as they work to develop a post-secondary path that is right for them.

What advice do you give students as they explore their higher education options?

I always encourage students to start with what they know about themselves. Major of interest? School attributes of importance? School location and logistics required? If they are uncertain, that is okay. I often emphasize the importance of experiences plus self-reflection. Visit college campuses. Talk to people. Ask questions. Research occupations. Develop a lifestyle vision. Students should always plan and practice self-advocacy; however, I also encourage them to be forgiving of themselves. Life is not a straight line. They will likely experience changes of direction and detours along the way. It is also important to me that students understand how to make the most effective investment in their education. What will their financial picture look like after earning their degree?

You recently traveled to San Diego to learn about the United States Marine Corp. What did you experience on this trip?

Bonnett participating in team building exercise During our Marine Educator Workshop, we spent part of our time as a new recruit would, complete with a drill instructor. The other part of our time we spent hearing from panels of Marines and high ranking career Marines. We visited MCRD the recruiting depot in San Diego, Camp Pendleton, and Miramar where we went to the flight line. I experienced the full intensity of being a brand new recruit coupled with the physical exertion expectations and group problem solving. I asked hundreds of questions as I strove to more fully understand the life of a Marine and the opportunities available to US Marines.

What were your main takeaways from this experience?

When you choose to serve our country, you are entering a system that works to meet your every need while continuously encouraging self improvement and education. Although the Marines are “riflemen first” they are also so much more. They are pilots, musicians, graphic designers, and meteorologists. Most striking, they are diverse with seemingly no bias based on skin color, religion, or sexual orientation. Over and over again, we heard that Marines judge one another based on their ability to do their job effectively. Respect is earned through merit. Rank matters, but the respect demonstrated between ranks in both directions was evident throughout every experience we had.

Educational "Recruits" take position on the yellow footprints experiences by all new marines





Pictured to the left, educational "recruits" stand firm on the infamous "yellow footprints" experienced by all incoming Marine recruits. Over the next few days, this group of eductors will move between the field experiences of boot camp and the classroom lessons of life as a Marine.





Below is a list of of events coordinated by Bonnett:

  • Career Exploration Days for all high school students with over 70 career fields represented - done twice each year.
  • College Fair each fall with over 80 colleges attending.
  • Career Fair with a mix of businesses, colleges, military recruiters, trade unions, and other service opportunities.
  • Family events covering topics such as
    • How to select the right college for you
    • Understand Financial Aid
    • FAFSA completion workshop
  • Trade Career Expo with an overview of the many building trades and how they worked together to expand and renovate our school building.
  • College visits.
  • Military recruiter visits.
  • Workshops on topics ranging from ACT prep to ROTC to scholarships to college application essay writing to building trades.
  • College and Career Center Newsletters - one for juniors & one for seniors