Thursday, January 22, 2015

50 for 50: Robyn Lady

Robyn Lady
Director of Student Services
Performing Arts Administrator
Chantilly High School (VA)

How long were you in your most recent admissions position at Chantilly HS? 

I have been the Director of Student Services at Chantilly High School for the eight years. I delight in leading a strong department of 11 counselors and 2 career center specialists.

How long have you been in admissions/college counseling?

Prior to my current position, I worked as a high school counselor for 12 years at three other high schools in Fairfax County Public Schools (Marshall High School, Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology and McLean High School).

How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?

As a graduate student in school counseling I did not take any courses in college admissions counseling. When I started at Marshall High School in 1995, I learned on the job and managed to get through my first year. A colleague encouraged me to attend the PCACAC conference when it was held in Tyson’s Corner and that was the best advice I received during those early years. While working at TJ I began to develop strong relationships with the college side of the desk and committed to attending PCACAC and NACAC every year. My passion for college admissions counseling and firm belief in the transformative power of a college education continue to drive my work today.

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?

This is a tough question, because every year there are great memories…. but one does stand out above the rest.  A few years ago we had an amazing, rock star of a student leader (she was also a star student) wait- listed at her top school. Our entire Instructional Council at Chantilly was shocked by then news and wanted me to do something to fix it. I am not accustomed to contesting decisions, and I happened to agree with the decision rendered by the institution (based on what they knew about her at the time of the decision). What had not been conveyed in the application was the impact she made on our entire school community. I immediately drafted a letter that was signed by the entire IC and sent it to her 1st choice school.  I followed that up with a phone call and I was delighted to learn that the school was able to go to their waitlist and she was one of the first students offered admission. She continues to impress us and has been featured in the alumni magazine of her great university.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership in PCACAC and/or NACAC? 

Commit to attending the annual conference every year. Volunteer to help with registration and/or offer to help with conference planning. Make time to speak with current leaders and learn more about the different committees. If you reach out to a committee chair, indicate your interest in that committee, share your interests/talents and ways you believe you can serve. PCACAC is an amazing organization.  Build relationships with people and leadership opportunities will certainly follow.

If not working in admissions/college counseling, what else could you see yourself pursuing? 

Just about anything sports related. I would love to work in broadcasting, her for a professional franchise, or for a college or university’s athletic department.

What's one thing that most people don't know about you? 

I was the Washington DC Metro Amateur Women’s Golf Champion in 2002.  Prior to becoming the Director of Student Services at Chantilly I would play six days a week during my entire summer vacation. Now I work 12 months and am lucky to play 20 times a year.

What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why? 

I am very concerned about the stress and anxiety on high school students in general.  The one thing that really concerns me is the “push” to take “career oriented” electives. I see too many parents pushing their kids into business, marketing, engineering courses in ninth grade and discouraging participation in the fine, practical and creative arts. 

*** To Celebrate Potomac Chesapeake's 50th Conference Anniversary, we're highlighting some of our current members. Each week until the conference at The Homestead in Spring 2015, a new member will be posted. Interested in participating? Email Aundra Weissert at to get started.***

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