Associate Director of Admissions
Randolph-Macon College (Ashland, VA)
How long have you been in the college counseling/admissions profession?
Randolph-Macon is where I began my official career in admissions in July 2008.
How did you get started in college counseling/admissions?
I was a high school teacher for three years prior to R-MC. I taught students with emotional and learning disabilities, and—really—it was during those years as a special ed case manager that I began counseling students and helping them set higher education and transition planning goals. I just didn’t know at the time that I was getting my start in college counseling/admissions. Soon then—during a time that I was starting to rethink a teaching career—I randomly met a young professional who worked in college admissions, and we got to talking about his job. It was an A-ha!! moment for me. This was a profession meant for me: my passions were transition planning and goal setting for young adults (my graduate school theme), and travel and customer service (years in service industry and retail). I almost immediately applied to an opening and got the job (after some special people in my network got me the interview). Of course, since then, the profession has become so much more.
What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory?
My goodness—there are so many. We have a good time in the R-MC admissions office, especially. There's always laughter among the seriousness... and a good Snapchat is never far behind this time of year. You know, there is a special fondness I have for one particular homeschooling session I attended at the NACAC conference about 5 years ago. That was another “Yes, please, tell me more!!” moment in this profession. Don’t you love feeling that way!? Wait, actually, is it unprofessional to tell you that my favorite memory from my admissions career was on an international recruiting trip, zipping a rental car through the narrow streets of Brussels during rush hour. SO MUCH FUN!
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership in PCACAC and/or NACAC?
Am I qualified to speak on this subject?!? I don't see myself as a leader within either organization, and I don't intentionally aspire to lead. Anyone else really, really like middle management? That's my happy place. That said, I would give the advice to figure out which current leaders and peers you admire and find ways to engage with them, ask questions, be professionally curious, be generous with genuine praise, and accept challenges. The ACAC community is so friendly and approachable. Also, volunteer however you're able, and don't be afraid to have different ideas.
If not working in admissions/college counseling, what else could you see yourself pursuing?
Whenever I take career interest inventories I end up with results that say I should be a construction worker or a scientist. I can see that.
What's one thing that most people don't know about you?
I am an introvert. Being around people-- even though I find relationships rewarding-- is exhausting for me. If you know me only professionally, you'll likely be surprised by this because I turn it on in social/networking settings or when presenting to a large audience. This persona is not insincere (my fellow introverts know what I mean here), but being social or high-energy isn't my natural state. As you can imagine, I'm regularly challenged by this character trait in our profession, but it has allowed me to grow and master some skills I otherwise wouldn't have.
What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why?
I'm fascinated by the concept of evaluating/ranking institutions of higher education based on outcomes. How can this data be realistically tracked and standardized across the region or nation, who is responsible for tracking it, what type of outcome is considered a "success"? I know I'm meeting more students looking for a professionally-geared, narrowly-focused major. They want a degree that will present them with immediate employment after graduation. And now that the pressure is increasing, what are traditional colleges doing-- specifically what are "Career Services" offices doing differently-- on campuses to faciltate successful outcomes? As this all relates to the college search, the value of a non-utilitarian education, and the future livelihood of higher ed institutions... this is so fascinating to me!