Papillion-La Vista High School (NE)
How did you become a college counselor at Papillion-La Vista High School?
Although I loved being a classroom teacher, I was looking for a change of pace and needed to start graduate school. Working individually with students was one of my favorite parts of teaching so I started my school counseling degree. Before I was finished, Papillion La Vista High School advertised for a school counselor, specializing in college counseling. Since I had been primarily teaching juniors and seniors and Advanced Placement, I thought it would be a good fit for me. Seventeen years later, it is still a good fit.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part is when “that student,” the really special one who needs your help, comes down to my office excited about an acceptance letter or a scholarship. When I see graduates and they say, “Without you, I would not have gone to college,” there is no greater sense of job satisfaction.
How did you get involved with NACAC’s College Fairs and what does that experience mean to you?
I was president of my affiliate and on the national Admission Practices Committee, so when NACAC wanted to start a fair in Omaha, they called to ask if I would be interested. I am very passionate about the great students we have here in Nebraska. Omaha is a great city to recruit in. It’s not just a fly-over city.
Do you have any advice for new counselors?
Find a good mentor, someone you can bounce ideas off and consult with on those situations you’re not sure of. Also, find a system for yourself to get organized. The paperwork, email, etc. can be overwhelming.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing counselors today?
In college counseling, the over involvement of parents is the biggest challenge. Students aren’t allowed to develop and make decisions or mistakes on their own. They don’t have the confidence, initiative, and independence to make the transition to college life. This also affects our greatest challenge—mental health. The number of students with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses has increased so much that we can’t keep up helping students just get through the school day.
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I like to hang out with family. Our kids are grown, so we actually like to be around them now. I’m also a little over the top on Pinterest projects.
If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
Carol from The Walking Dead. She’s one tough cookie.
Describe yourself in five words.
Passionate, dedicated, organized, direct, and competitive.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Get involved in NACAC. The experiences and relationships I’ve developed through serving on the president’s council and various committees have enhanced my professional career.
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