Consultant, Connector for Authentic Engagement and Genuine Education
In The Fleisch, Be You, Inc. (PA) / Primary Contract with M Square Media as Director, University Partnerships
What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
Short answer: An opportunity to help students and their parents value themselves and explore educational opportunities.
Long answer: I grew up in a low-SES school in Washington state. We were told about Running Start and Clark College, and we had frequent lunchtime “university visits” from the U.S. Armed Forces where we did push-up competitions for prizes.
I am grateful to my friends who served, they are impressive men and women. I am appreciative of my math teacher’s wife who told me “Sam, you have too much potential to get stuck in this town”, and thus, off I went to university in Idaho. With the intent on being a school counselor, for the expressed purpose of social, emotional, and academic counseling, I desired to help kids not get stuck, and get unstuck.
After graduating from Northwest Nazarene University (ID), I started my teaching career in order to be a better school-based counselor. While I taught social studies at ICS Singapore, I also obtained my master’s in education counseling from SUNY Buffalo. My goal was not university advising, I didn’t really know such a life existed. But I quickly learned that conversations about university applications led more students to my door than counseling sessions did.
To be the best counselor, I started learning everything I could about colleges and universities in the United States, but also about educational opportunities around the globe, especially university options in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Italy, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and the UK.
What is your favorite part of the job?
When I work with students in a school setting my favorite parts of the job are:
- Connecting with students outside of their curriculum (sports, clubs, hallway conversations).
- Talking with teachers about how great their students are (especially PE and art teachers…so many letters of rec snippets).
- Meeting with parents and guardians to learn about the expectations they have, or helping them articulate expectations they have not yet expressed.
- Guiding students to think about options they had never considered.
In working at M Square Media, Duolingo English Test, and in other consulting roles, I have learned to appreciate the process for making sure opportunities for students, businesses, schools, and institutions are aligned by addressing their needs through data, operations, and “sales.”
How has NACAC played a role in your career?
NACAC and my affiliate, International ACAC, has shaped who I am, how I think, and what I know more than any other professional organization. The conferences have become an extended family reunion I get to attend every July and September.
- My first International ACAC conference was in 2008 at Michigan State. Through that first conference I became friends with future leaders of the NACAC board, who encouraged me to get involved.
- I joined committees and eventually the International ACAC Executive Board as the vice president for finance. This was followed by serving a couple of years on the NACAC Finance Committee and helping to establish the Treasurers Development Institute.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
The pursuit of equitable access to educational opportunities and the cultivation of educational outcomes that nurture curiosity, empathy, self-awareness, and a genuine appreciation for the inherent humanity in every individual. While numerous challenges exist, I believe we must embrace the potential to transform our educational landscape and empower students to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world.
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I love spending time with my incredible wife and three amazing sons. We love to travel and create lasting memories together.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that “strangers are just pre-friends,” so I enjoy meeting new people and forming meaningful connections.
I have a deep passion for sports, which borders on addiction. Whether it’s watching, playing, or coaching, I find immense fulfillment in all things sports-related.
If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Allan Karlsson, from the novel The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.
Published Dec. 25, 2023