Nominee Statement: Sonia Ryan

Nominee for President-elect:

Sonia Ryan

Sonia Ryan
Director of College Counseling

Justin -Siena High School (CA)


Board members contribute many valuable skills to their work on the board, including leadership abilities, budget or financial planning, communications and media relations, advocacy and strategic planning, and other skills. How does your experience and skill set prepare you to be an effective board member? 

*Statement submitted June 3, 2021

I am a single Puerto Rican mother of two high-school students. As a first-generation student, college changed the path for me and my family.  It provided me a new life and opportunity that I share with my students. I started my career as a high-school counselor in a public school with a caseload of over 450 students. Ten years ago, I moved to a Catholic high school that has a mission to educate a diverse, inclusive population of all abilities. Both experiences have informed me and provided me with insights—insights that colleges need. I believe there is talent that American colleges and universities are failing to identify. It has been a privilege to have helped thousands of young people achieve their educational dreams as I have; there are few professional experiences more satisfying. 

Fifteen years ago, I joined my local affiliate, WACAC.  In those years I served WACAC in various capacities, accepting roles with increasing responsibility, ultimately serving as President.  Throughout that time my affiliate addressed key issues to increase college access. Along the way I was able to take advantage of a network of professionals who mentored me as we guided students toward college and a better life. NACAC was a critical element of that network. 

While leading a college counseling program of ethnically and economically diverse students, I am reminded that, while our work benefits all students, it is especially instrumental in benefiting those too often invisible in American society. Many of my students this past decade have been the first in their families to attend college. My schools have celebrated those who attend community college just as much as those who attend highly selective schools. The latter group, we all know, has been given advantages that we too often define as talent when they are merely economic, social, or ethnic advantages. This is a problem in a democratic society that claims to reward merit. 

My career has provided me with experiences that have sharpened my insights. I have been a reader for a highly selective flagship public university. I have consulted for a business committed to building affordable housing for low-income college students. I have advised disadvantaged families, parents who have sacrificed to give their children a better life. I understand the challenges on both sides. I’ve been on both sides.

Today, our profession is at a crossroads. Covid-19 has disrupted everything this past year, but there are stronger, systemic forces that have diverted us from serving those we need to serve. NACAC is poised to advocate for students. 

I believe NACAC is an organization for change. We can redefine what academic talent is. We can engage high-school counselors as leaders in our organization. NACAC is positioned to be the trusted voice for advocacy. We need to have high-school counselors in the highest levels of leadership within our organization.  I have seen the college admissions world through multiple perspectives during my tenure and I am passionate about expanding access to college for our students. I ask for your support to be your next NACAC President-Elect.



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