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Meet Anthony Ambrogi

Anthony Ambrogi
Director of College Counseling
St. Catherine’s School (VA)

How did you become the director of college counseling at St. Catherine’s School?
Right time, right place! I had considered moving from the college side to the high school side for a while, but I waited for the perfect opportunity because I was happy where I was. I also knew I wanted to stay in the Richmond, VA, area - my wife and I both have deep family roots here. Our daughter attends St. Catherine’s, so I already knew what a fantastic school it was, and my wife has worked at St. Christopher’s (the all-boys coordinate school) for 20 years. Plus, both my wife and I attended single-gender high schools and know the benefits first-hand. So, when St. Catherine’s decided to expand their college counseling office, I knew it was the perfect opening for me. I’m so lucky the stars aligned to make it possible for me to be here.

What made you decide to get into this field?
Like many people in our field, I fell into the work by happenstance. I had been hired by my high school alma mater for a different role; they had an opening for the director of college counseling and asked me to fill in for a year while they did a search for a permanent replacement. That was my first exposure to the field 20 years ago, and I was hooked. My next job took me to the admission office at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA, where I worked for 16 years and was the director of admissions. I wanted to stay in the education field and move up to the college level, and I wanted a smaller college where I could get to know the students as individuals. Now, it’s come full circle and I’m back on the high school side as director of college counseling.

What is your favorite part of the job?
I love puzzles and problem solving, and that defines a lot of the college search process. Each student I meet has their own puzzle to solve. Some are easier than others, some are familiar and others challenge me to expand my knowledge base. That’s the other fun part of the job – when you’re dealing with colleges and teenagers, there’s always something new and different to learn. It’s never dull, and just when you think you have a handle on it, some new wrinkle appears to keep you on your toes.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
When I attended my first Potomac & Chesapeake ACAC conference during that one-year interim hitch at the start of my career, I knew I had found a group of people who cared deeply about their profession and their students. PCACAC and NACAC together have helped me expand my professional horizons. I’m a big believer in always trying to improve on what you do, and that no one has all of the answers. The collaboration among colleagues that NACAC fosters is one of its most valuable assets. I’ve also been fortunate to have served as President of PCACAC, which has allowed me to work closely with other NACAC and affiliate leaders and to learn more about the macro-level and micro-level issues and how they are affecting colleagues in other parts of the country. That knowledge has helped me better serve my institutions and students.

You’ve been a supporter of the Imagine Fund. Why do you choose to give to NACAC’s fund?
I’ve been fortunate to work at schools like St. Catherine’s and Randolph-Macon that believe in the importance of professional development, collegiality, and ethical practices, and how they help us be better stewards for our students. I also know that many of my colleagues aren’t as fortunate, and many don’t have the resources to be NACAC members or attend conferences regularly. So, for me, supporting the Imagine Fund is my way of paying it forward. Ultimately, the more we can all work together, the better all of us will be able to shepherd our students through this important time in their lives.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I spend a lot of my time chasing after my 10-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. I try to get some exercise in, mostly running or road cycling. I’m a history buff, so I read a lot of history books. I have my private pilot’s license, and while I don’t use it nearly as much as I’d like, I try to go flying at least a few times a year. Now that I’m on the high school side, I’m hoping to use it more often to visit colleges!

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
This one is really hard! I’ve started re-watching The West Wing on Amazon lately, so I’ll go with President Jed Bartlett from that show. Mostly because I wish I was that eloquent.

Describe yourself in five words.
Determined, affable, witty, ambitious, and integrity (there isn’t a good adjective for integrity).

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