Priscilla Grijalva
School Counselor
Eleanor Roosevelt High School and Citrus Hills Intermediate School / Corona-Norco Unified School District (CA)

What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
I am a first-generation Latina college student from El Paso, Texas. I came out to California on a basketball scholarship where I was extremely fortunate to attend California Baptist University. While I was in college I volunteered at local schools, was a high school basketball coach, and an outreach counselor for K-12 schools. I originally wanted to be an FBI agent, but then was led to the world of school counseling. People always told me I was a great listener, motivator, and helper. I have always loved helping students go on for more education or training. In 2014, I was fortunate to attend the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) conference. At that time, former first lady, Michelle Obama, spoke about the Reach Higher initiative which supports school counselors and encourages students to reach higher for more education or training. I love the Reach Higher initiative and Better Make Room campaign. I genuinely believe that saying things out loud can make them happen. It was then that I started to implement some of their events and even created my own, including Reach Higher Signing Days (College Signing Days), Beating the Odds Summits, Reach Higher Thursdays, US Military Boot Camps, a podcast with tips on implementing college/financial aid activities, and so much more.

What is your favorite part of the job?
Giving students hope! I work at one of the greatest school districts in the nation! I get to collaborate and work with an amazing team at Eleanor Roosevelt High School and Citrus Hills Intermediate School in the Corona-Norco Unified School District. I love helping students reach higher for more education or training as well as helping students with their mental health and academic success. I am most passionate about helping students with financial aid. I have amazing mentors including an administrator, college/financial aid representatives, educators, school counselors, and state and national leaders that I get to call on anytime. I am forever grateful for them. They support me, encourage me, and keep it real.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
Throughout the years, NACAC has helped me build relationships with college representatives and collaborate with them to better assist my students. I love the conferences because I get to network with other school counselors and college representatives. I also get to learn from some amazing educators.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
Equity and access. We need more school counselors to provide the support students need with their mental health, college/career planning, and academic success. Students prefer help from someone who looks like them and understands them. The pandemic has created a lot of challenges. We are seeing a lot of students having a tough time adjusting back to a sense of normalcy. Many are experiencing anxiety, struggles with their mental health, and a lack of social skills.

When you are not working, what do you like to do?
I love going to the beach, surfing, spending time with family and friends, playing basketball, doing yoga, running, and interviewing people for our podcast Reach Higher Riverside. I also enjoy volunteering with the NACAC Ad Hoc Committee on Engaging Public High School Counselors, American School Counselor Association Postsecondary Affinity Group, California Association of School Counselors, WACAC Government and Relations and Advocacy Committee, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Students of the Year, When We All Vote My School Votes, Sallie Mae School Counselor Advisory Committee, Common App, and local animal shelters, as well as being a mentor for TN Achieves. I am also part of an anti-racism, equity, and access book club with some school counselors across the nation.

What five words would you use to describe yourself?
Relentless, kind, student advocate, hardworking, and dedicated.