Clay Hensley
International Education Consultant
Current clients include Cambridge International, Cialfo, IBO, and NACAC

What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
Like many of us, I stumbled into a role within our college admissions field while trying to make my rent (in my case, in New York City, pursuing a career in the creative arts). It was a very happy accident: What could be more meaningful than helping to expand right-match college opportunities to more students, in the U.S. and internationally?

Supporting global higher education engagement has been (and continues to be) a wonderful way to explore our world. International education has also served as an incredible lens to view changes—and (hopefully) continued progress—as our world becomes increasingly interconnected. I’m honored to be collaborating with NACAC colleagues to advance international engagement projects, and am looking forward to NACAC’s inaugural Global Universities Fair, taking place at Northeastern University London this November.

What is your favorite part of the job?
I love making connections among our global higher education and college access communities across various countries and intercultural contexts.

Higher education—particularly international experiences afforded to me while at Vanderbilt University (TN)—changed my trajectory. We all hope our collective actions help to bend the destinies of students for the better.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
Throughout my more than two decades collaborating within our higher education enrollment community, NACAC has been a bellwether and a beacon among organizations promoting college opportunities, in the U.S. and globally.

I was honored that NACAC’s largest affiliate, the International Association for College Admission Counseling (Int’l-ACAC, formerly OACAC), awarded me their annual Distinguished Service Award in 2013.

I am impressed and inspired to see NACAC continue to extend and enhance its reach across borders. NACAC is now having a powerful and positive international impact, and is poised to have an even more profound influence.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
Recent attacks on American public education (at the K-12 and tertiary levels) have been disheartening. I’m proud of the role that NACAC, along with partner and peer organizations, have performed in promoting the transformative power of an inclusive higher education ecosystem.

Resisting strains of right-wing nationalism and other regressive forces will be essential for U.S. higher education to thrive in an increasingly international and interconnected environment.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
As mentioned above, I moved to New York City to be an artist (like many of us, I stumbled upon my calling within college admissions by trying to make my rent while pursuing the creative arts.) I used to show my painting and curate group exhibits somewhat frequently; and—although I no longer maintain a painting studio nor exhibit my paintings as often—I still do my best to sustain and cultivate meaningful connections within NYC’s creative communities.

Joyce, my wife (an educator/ administrator within NYC public schools), and I adore exploring neighborhoods throughout our home borough of Brooklyn. We also love to embark on journeys outside of the city. (I’ve traveled to every U.S. state, along with more than 70 countries and territories.)

What five words would you use to describe yourself?
Creating connections across #intled communities.


Published Nov. 6, 2023