International Recruitment Officer (Americas)
McMaster University (Ontario, Canada)
What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
My entry into admission counseling is more of a perfect storm of factors falling into place versus a planned trajectory.
As a political science major, I pursued several opportunities in student politics to test the waters in governance. I quickly discovered a dislike for the cutthroat aspect of politics but found my passion for community development, communications strategy, and policy work. To this end, I pursued student leadership opportunities (e.g., working as a residence adviser, orientation planner, student council web editor, etc.) related to community development and communications. I cold applied to my original role in admission counseling (working with Canadian students) believing it was a four-month opportunity for recent grads to discuss their student leadership experiences. I was pleasantly informed that it was a continuing opportunity focused on digital communication strategy with face-to-face student support in communities across Canada. From that moment, it was a perfect match of skill set and passion.
Although I had a serendipitous entry into admission counselling, I have stayed for 14 years as I am fulfilling the original goal set by my younger self—helping to impact the community around me—and following my passion. With my transition into international education in 2018, I find fulfillment knowing that I have played a small part in students’ lives/decisions in numerous communities throughout Canada and now internationally in the US (and other countries within the Americas).
Coincidentally, the admission counselor who recruited 18-year-old me to McMaster University (my alma mater and employer) is now my director. I vividly remember her talk at my high school (20 years later) and hope I am having a similar impact on the students I support.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Front-line interactions with students, school counselors, advisers, and colleagues in the field are by far the most enjoyable highlight of my role. The switch to virtual interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the amount of energy I derive from my face-to-face engagements with students and colleagues. As an empath, I find engaging with others in the field, beyond a virtual setting, is the most direct way to gauge the reactions, fears, concerns, and challenges faced by students/colleagues.
How has NACAC played a role in your career?
As a representative of a Canadian institution, NACAC’s national conference and college fairs have allowed for an enormous amount of networking with colleagues and direct face time with students throughout the United States. Throughout the year, NACAC also provides highly structured and well-organized opportunities to connect with the stakeholders that impact the deliverables associated with my role.
Aside from conferences, affiliated groups such as the International ACAC, the various SIGs, and the virtual events held throughout the year are extremely valuable spaces for sharing best practices, gaining professional development, and networking for my personal growth as an international recruitment professional.
In my short three years as a member of NACAC, I found the programming/knowledge development opportunities to be timely and relevant. Connecting with other professionals tackling similar challenges is a great way to reflect, be inspired, and simply find solutions to common issues.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
Historians of the future will look back at the COVID-19 pandemic as the challenge of this generation. While there have been major challenges in recent decades, this type of collective struggle (at this scale/direct threat level) has not been witnessed since World War II. I am hopeful that future historians will report that we used this pandemic to finally recognize the importance of educators and used our current challenges as learning opportunities to transform our approaches, methodologies, and mindsets at every level of education.
Outside of the pandemic, access to education continues to be a challenge for many. As a living example of the transformative/equalizing impact of education, I am perpetually hopeful (and advocating) that access to education is top-of-mind for the relevant decision-makers in every jurisdiction around the world.
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
My motto is: Life is not a dress rehearsal. Triggered by the sudden loss of close relatives in the 2010s, I try to live/seize every moment and pursue as many of my passions as time will allow. Having spent my early childhood in rural Guyana, I enjoy immersing myself in nature—whether that means finding local hiking trails along the Niagara Escarpment, seeking out quiet country roads on my motorcycle, or trying to fly among the birds as I work toward earning my private pilot’s license.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been dabbling in homebrewing to fine-tune “Blue Moon–sammy”—my version of the popular Belgian witbier.
As an interntaional recruiter, it also goes without saying that I enjoy traveling and immersing myself in cultures/locales different from my day-to-day experience. To date, I consider myself fortunate to have used my holidays to experience the cultures of almost 40 different countries on six continents. A couple of highlights include trekking to Mount Everest base camp in Nepal and bungee jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand.
If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Tough question. It is a toss-up between Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man or Clark Kent/Superman—one minute he’s trying to save the world with his pen, the next with his might. Regardless of pen/sword, he’s trying to do his part and if everyone did their part—the world would be a much better place!
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