James B. Massey Jr.
Director of Undergraduate Admissions
University of Maryland
What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
I found myself very curious in college about ‘”the how” and “the why” regarding students’ choosing to attend college; specifically, I was intrigued about the factors that may have influenced some students’ decisions and what barriers may have prohibited others from accessing higher education. A simple curiosity led to pursuing graduate studies in higher education policy and ultimately landing my first job in admissions at Maryland.
What is your favorite part of the job?
The people—I fell in love with working with the students, families, our school counselors, and our community-based organizations. It truly takes each one of us and our unique contributions to make access to higher education possible for all. Whether it is working with students and families to discover what is important in their initial search for colleges and universities, or sharing with them what may make your college or university the best home for them for the next four years, I believe that our contributions are essential and have a great impact.
How has NACAC played a role in your career?
NACAC has always served as a standard for excellence in our profession to me. I have long valued the many engaging conversations and lessons learned dating back to my very first NACAC conference. Now, after 20 years in our profession, I value the opportunity afforded through my involvement in NACAC to share with new colleagues in our field what I have experienced and learned. I also enjoy seeing younger colleagues grow and excel during their professional journeys. My hope is that they will be inspired to not only remain in our profession, but also become the next leaders within the field and recognize the responsibility that they too have to reach out to others that may come after them.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges that we face today is continuing to defend the true value and necessity of higher education. The many conversations and challenges questioning the value and merit of obtaining or even pursuing a college degree continues to give me great pause. I believe that access to higher education remains such a necessity for our students’ overall success regardless of their field of interest and that it should be accessible for all. We also need to continue to advocate for the resources that are necessary to support our institutions as well as the financial needs of students.
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I have a true love for travel and for fine dining. It is amazing to me how much you can learn about anywhere through the types of cuisine and restaurants that are offered. They often tell a story and speak to what makes that specific place and the people that it serves so special. I also enjoy engaging in community service with my fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and serving my community through my church, New Samaritan Baptist Church of Washington, D.C.
What five words would you use to describe yourself?
Dedicated. Passionate. Empathetic. Loyal. Advocate.