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Meet Adrienne Oddi

Adrienne Oddi
Director of Admissions
Berry College (GA)
Twitter:
@aaoddi

How did you become the director of admissions at Berry College? What led you to this field?
I started working in admission at my alma mater, Kenyon College. Initially, I saw working in admission as a transition from college to a mathematics doctorate program. Early in my career, I was fortunate to have great mentors in Jennifer Delahunty and Darryl Uy who showed me the art and science of admission work. I quickly learned that much like mathematics, the work of enrollment managers is both calculated and creative. The numbers can illuminate part of the story, but without context and creativity, we can miss the whole story. 

After working for Kenyon College for a number of years, I moved into a more data-oriented position at the University of Rochester. The experience working at a tier-1 research university was invaluable. After a few tough winters, I realized I missed smaller communities and the South. I grew up in Georgia and always knew of Berry College. When I learned more about the amazing experiences Berry students can have personally and professionally (over 90 percent of Berry students work in paid jobs on campus), I knew I had to check it out. My visit to campus, just like so many of our prospective students, was transformational. Berry is the most egalitarian private university I’ve encountered. I love the socioeconomic diversity on campus and the opportunity to work more closely with current students. After managing a subset of the team for my first 18 months, I was asked to step into the director role. As a former college athlete (shout out to Kenyon Swimming!), I couldn’t turn down the challenge of something bigger and the opportunity to build a team. After two years in this role, I have grown in expected and unexpected ways. I’m so thankful for the community of mentors and thoughtful colleagues I have here on campus, as well as the amazing professionals who have served as sounding boards and encouraging voices from the outside.

What is your favorite part of the job?
This is a tough one because there are so many components to the job that I enjoy. Perhaps the easiest way to answer this question is that I love the variety of work and that no two days are the same. More specifically though, two things stand out to me.

Enrollment managers have a tremendous opportunity (and responsibility) to create and shape campus communities that reflect the values of this country. Through constantly improving admission practices and policies, we can transform a college community in just a couple of years. I love being able sit at the intersection of the frontlines and campus senior leadership. This position allows me to train and develop a confident and thoughtful recruitment team that pushes campus priorities forward. I love that Berry’s campus has become more diverse over the years, and more importantly, that the team we have is thinking about issues of access, equity, and inclusion as we welcome new people into the community.

Related, I love finding opportunities for other professionals to grow and to learn. I spend a significant amount of my time advocating for my team as a whole and for individuals who have a lot of potential. When I can make a positive change that recognizes a professional’s growth, it’s unclear who is more excited – me or them.

 

Do you have any advice for professionals new to the field?
Find the lesson in all that you do. The easiest days are the ones where everything works – the visitors all arrive on time and are happy, the student you’ve been recruiting for months (years!) says, “Yes,” and loves their financial aid package, a professor went above and beyond in welcoming a visitor. Find the lesson in the hard days; the days where you’re calling tons of prospects and not getting any love, the days where you don’t feel like you could ever have enough financial aid, the days where you’ve visited several schools on the road and no one is talking to you. There’s something to learn and to gain in each of those experiences. Finding the lesson and turning it into a positive will sustain you as will the people. Admission folks are incredibly kind and welcoming. Don’t be afraid to walk up to someone at another school and introduce yourself. Get to know counselors when you visit their schools. Learn from these new people in your corner.  

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing counselors today?
Everything is a priority and everything is important. Oftentimes, the institutional priorities compete. This balance of priorities is difficult for anyone, but especially new counselors. The actions we take can vary from day to day and season to season. As the person who is often making the tough calls, I work very hard to explain the reasoning behind the decisions we make and to show empathy when the competing priorities start to overwhelm my new colleagues.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
As a lifelong endurance athlete, at least some of my free time involves exercise. Over the last few years, I have gotten into cycling. My husband (fellow NACAC Member Henry Oddi) and I met through a cycling fundraiser for cancer research, so we try to get on our bikes as much as possible.

I also love to cook and to try new recipes. Lately, I’ve been digging a marinade that involves Aleppo pepper and smoked paprika. It’s got a bit of a kick and some wonderful smokiness. Let me know if you want the recipe!

When I’m not on the bike or in the kitchen, you can find me with a warm cup of coffee and a great book. Some of my recent favorites: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, and I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. You’ll notice all of these are by amazing women of color.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
Olivia Pope

Describe yourself in five words.
Brave, Empathetic, Disciplined, Helpful, Analytical

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