CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former WCHS news reporter Atish Baidya grew up in San Diego. He spent six years as a news reporter -- one in Zanesville, Ohio, and five in Charleston.
For the past two years, Baidya has been involved with the College Summit program, which helps prepare students for college. In 2011, at a Marshall University workshop, he served as a writing coach for the first time. This year, he was a writing coach for two workshops, one in June and one in July, both at Marshall.
"I first learned about College Summit several years ago after watching a story on '60 Minutes' that profiled the organization," Baidya explained.
"The story really stuck with me. It was clear the experience was incredibly powerful for not only the peer leaders, but for the writing coaches as well."
Peer leaders are the students who attend the workshops. Writing coaches help them with their personal statements, which they use on college applications.
Baidya thought if he were ever in a position to volunteer for the organization, he would. However, when he first heard about it, he didn't think he would be qualified because he was still in college. He didn't think they would accept his help.
After he graduated from the University of Southern California, one of his friends was working for College Summit in Washington, D.C., and she told him he should volunteer to be a writing coach because she knew he could do it.
"So when I was in the position where my work schedule allowed me to volunteer, I signed right up. By this time, Jen Wood was a friend of mine, and she also enthusiastically encouraged me to volunteer," said Baidya, referring to the program's community relations specialist in West Virginia.
Baidya signed up to be a writing coach, and the College Summit family welcomed him with open arms.
"So here I am. I'm committed to this organization for the rest of my life. I will always do anything they need me to do. I will support them because they are all about supporting their staff, volunteers, peer leaders, etc. It's an organization with an amazing soul, filled with love, and it shows in everything they do."
Other than being a writing coach and helping students that come to the workshop, Baidya has also emceed the awards luncheon for the past two years. That occurs in the spring and allows the peer leaders to see each other again."So, like I said, anything they need me to do, I do," Baidya said happily.