December 11, 2023 | Matt Kucinski

Michelle Charles Anaele waited until nearly the last minute to make her college decision.

“I had gotten all my financial aid packages, had messaged students on Instagram from all the colleges I applied to asking about their experience,” said Anaele, “and then I sat down with my sisters.”

Anaele’s sisters both went to Calvin, and she said they offered her some advice. “They told me if you want a straight path from school to work, Calvin is the way to do that. Calvin has connections to people in the profession you want to go into, and in between you can really find your own mini-community in a smaller school that’s very community-centric.”

“When I visited campus it was peaceful, not go-go-go,” said Anaele. “Everyone was taking life at their own pace and that’s something I really valued. At one of the top schools on my list [a larger state university], I felt rushed, felt I’d have so much ground to cover if I went there.”

Getting ahead

So, in late Spring, Anaele decided on Calvin and she also chose an early on-ramp through the Entrada Scholars Program.

Michelle Charles Anaele graduated from the Entrada Scholars Program in Summer 2021.
Michelle Charles Anaele graduated from the Entrada Scholars Program in Summer 2021.

“It was almost a no-brainer,” said Anaele of doing Entrada, which is a pre-college program where racial ethnic minority high school students have the opportunity to experience college living and learning. During the month-long program, scholars live in the residence halls while completing a three or four-credit course.

“I saw Entrada as a way to get ahead on my college journey,” said Anaele. “I was already coming to Calvin, why not come with 3-4 credits under my belt, with friends, knowing at least one professor and the campus well.”

Anaele said she started her time at Calvin feeling the advantage of having gone through Entrada, including the financial benefit of an additional $4,000 scholarship, renewable each year.

The preview matches reality

For Anaele, Entrada was the “trailer” to her undergraduate journey.

“In Entrada, I felt very cared for and that someone always seemed to have my back regardless of what I was in,” said Anaele. “I really valued the relationship I had during Entrada with my professor, that he was very personable, felt like he was someone who wanted us to do well. He wanted us to first understand the material and second to succeed in his class.”

Now in her junior year at Calvin, the marketing management major from Midland, Michigan, says that the trailer was an accurate portrayal of what she’d experience.

“Calvin is also like this [Entrada], there are people who have you, not just other students, but faculty and staff who are there to defend you or stand next to you whatever you are going through.”

Thriving in community

And, for Anaele, she says it was more than just about finding “a” community.

“I knew that I needed to be surrounded at a vital point in my life with like-minded people and that was surrounding myself with other young Christians who are finding out their faith and are steadfast in their faith,” said Anaele.

Michelle Charles Anaele is involved in Dance Guild at Calvin.
Michelle Charles Anaele is involved in Dance Guild at Calvin.

Anaele is now thriving at Calvin, taking advantage of many opportunities. She’s found community through student organizations like the African Student Association and Dance Guild, where this past month she choreographed an Advanced Girls Hip Hop group.

Ready for the next step

And while she’s enjoying the community that she’s a part of now, she’s also preparing for her dream job of becoming a business analyst. This past year, she interned as a market research analyst for a company in Denver, Colorado, having the opportunity to dive deep into data, making visuals for the company, and helping answer their questions.

“I felt a sense of importance and impact in what I was doing,” said Anaele. “That’s the goal with whatever I do in life, I want to feel important and impactful and that I’m making a difference for a company.”

Now that Anaele’s a few years into her Calvin journey, she encourages those about to start their college journey to take the same on-ramp [Entrada] she did.

“It’s on a plate,” said Anaele. “You just need to pick it up and take it.”

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