Why I work at HCM

Circumstances led to me living on my own as a high school senior – had it not been for need-based financial aid, I would not have been able to attend college after high school. And work-study positions tutoring math and writing in CAMP, and working for the Upward Bound program were foundational my interest in providing support to students from marginalized communities.

Stark racial disparities in educational outcomes stem from complex societal and educational challenges, including poverty, institutionalized racism, and inflexible educational structures. And yet they can, and must, be successfully tackled. I am thrilled to be working with a passionate team of experts who wake up every day ready to take on incremental and systems changes to improve opportunities for our students, families, and communities.

Rachelle Sharpe

Director, Pathways and Economic Mobility

With over 30 years of experience in higher education and state policy, Rachelle is skilled in analyzing evidence for decision-making, building coalitions of support, implementing programs, fostering collaboration, and building a culture that embodies values of trust, inclusion, and a joyful workplace.

Prior to joining HCM, Rachelle spent 15 years with the higher education agency in Washington State in roles spanning from state financial aid director to interim executive director. She led the development of an affordability framework to improve understanding of and advocate for affordability, created a statewide adult learner recruitment and support initiative, and launched the state’s first early commitment entitlement program, the College Bound Scholarship.

Previously, Rachelle spent 15 years on two- and four-year campuses working in college access (TRiO Upward Bound), admissions, and financial aid. She supported first-generation college students, enhanced transfer agreements, and contributed to accreditation, strategic planning, and faculty tenure review.

Before joining the firm, Rachelle served HCM as a part-time consultant, supporting Cal Grant reform, evaluating Louisiana’s GO Grant, and reviewing roles of transfer partners in Texas.
Rachelle lives in Tacoma, Washington.

She and her husband of 26 years, a high school administrator, are enjoying the start of the “empty nest” with two college-aged daughters. With a travel trailer, laptop and fishing pole – they are ready to explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest.



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