During a study abroad trip to the U.K., Megan poses in front of “Big Ben,” a famous London landmark.

Megan Ahlquist’s college journey started in Port Huron, Michigan where attending college was common in her family. During her senior year at Port Huron High School, Megan’s AP Literature teacher was an unexpected source of inspiration. By assigning more complex books and challenging her through discussion, Mrs. Devendorf helped Megan see her own potential.

Since her family’s philosophy was not “if you go to college” but “when you go to college,” Megan had always envisioned that as part of her journey. Mrs. Devendorf helped her realize she wanted to become an English teacher who changes students’ lives by encouraging and empowering them.

“When You Go to College”

Eager to experience life outside her home state, Megan set out to attend a liberal arts college in Wisconsin. Like many other students each year, she realized her chosen school wasn’t the right fit for her.

Although she had always expected college to be academically challenging, Megan hadn’t anticipated how difficult it would be emotionally. She felt very alone. This sense of loneliness was exacerbated by the happy, lively, curated social media feeds of people she followed. Her friends from high school seemed really happy at their new universities and as if everything was as it should be. By comparison,  Megan’s story felt as if something had gone wrong and she didn’t understand why or know what to do. She told her family and transferred to Hope College for her second year.

Her friends from high school seemed really happy at their new universities and as if everything was as it should be. By comparison, Megan’s story felt as if something had gone wrong and she didn’t understand why or know what to do.

A More Hopeful Chapter

Although she had initially been bound and determined not to attend college in Michigan, This instilled a greater sense of confidence and awareness of the world she would later use when moving to Colorado and Indiana for teaching opportunities.

Starting out with the goal of teaching for at least five years to get some experience before beginning graduate studies, Megan finished her final year as a teacher in Michigan. At that moment, she knew she was ready for the next chapter and started as a full-time graduate student at the University of Michigan’s School of Education. As a teacher and now, as a professional working in the Center for Educational Outreach at the University, Megan seeks to provide students with the same confidence instilled in her by her teachers and family, helping them see that their future isn’t a matter of if they have the opportunity and abilities to go to college but when.


At that moment, she knew she was ready for the next chapter…[now] Megan seeks to provide students with the same confidence instilled in her by her teachers and family. Helping them see that their future isn’t a matter of if they have the opportunities to go to college but when.

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Megan Alquist serves as the Data Strategy and Business Program Manager. In this role, she supports the GEAR UP and MCAC programs through program evaluation and continuous improvement efforts. Megan believes strongly in the power of storytelling and the impact of data on the stories we tell. As a former middle school English teacher, she is passionate about improving educational opportunities for all students. Megan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English for Secondary Education from Hope College and a Master of Arts in Educational Studies – Program Evaluation and Improvement Research from the University of Michigan.