Ask Maranda Totten about her dreams for the future, and she’ll pull out the vision board she created through Step Year at WMCAT. It now sits in the corner of her room – always nearby – covered with magazine clippings that represent her goals: get a driver’s license, go to college, have a family, give back.

Maranda and WMCAT Director of Workforce Development Renida Clark.

Maranda found WMCAT after a difficult year. She moved from Tennessee to Grand Rapids in early 2020, started at a new high school during her senior year, and made it to graduation in the midst of the pandemic. “I was trying to figure out what I want to do, where I want to work at … it was really hard.”

Maranda’s (left) 2021 Step Year cohort.

The goals Maranda created at WMCAT are guiding her now. “[Step Year] helped me figure out what I want to do.” She’s signed up for driver’s training, pursuing a degree at Grand Rapids Community College, working as a nanny, and researching different career pathways for special education – her ultimate dream.

Step Year, WMCAT’s curriculum-based college and career exploration program, supported Maranda in planning her next steps and became a place for her to belong and believe in herself. “I really didn’t know myself, and I didn’t think I could do it. [Director of Workforce Development] Renida helped me, like, ‘you can do anything if you want to achieve it.’”

“In 2020, I felt like I was nothing and I didn’t belong here. And this year I feel like I’m striving to the finish line. I’m slowly getting there but I’m getting there, I’m pushing. I’m just really loving life right now.” If she needs a reminder of her destination, that vision board is right in the corner.

Learn more at

Learn more about Step Year by viewing the 2021 annual report.