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Meet Dana Martin

Dana Martin
College Advisor
Mastery Charter High School-Lenfest Campus (Philadelphia, PA)
Twitter: @dmartincollege      
Instagram: @danamartincollege

How did you become a college advisor?
I worked in the nonprofit world for some time after undergrad where I worked with youth who were educationally capable, but did not have the resources to overcome barriers to be successful in the classroom. I enjoyed the work, but wanted to directly impact student choice and educate students about the college process. Mastery Charter Schools had a position that teaches the college process while also providing counseling to students and families along the way. It was a perfect fit for me. It wasn’t the traditional guidance counselor role, but a hybrid. Half teacher, half counselor that solely focused on transition to college and life after high school. I have been in the position ever since.

What is your favorite part of the job?
I love interacting with parents and getting students to discover their passions. Through my role I get to see both inside and outside the classroom. I love interacting with my students and finding ways to help them connect what they are passionate about to a college major, and ultimately, a college choice. I get satisfaction knowing that my work directly impacts their immediate future after high school. I like to travel as well and learn about new colleges and programs.

How does NACAC play a role in your career?
Attending the NACAC conference is a huge motivator for me professionally. I get so inspired by the hundreds of professionals in our field that dedicate time to perfect their craft. I use the resources that NACAC provides via the website and professional developments in my classes with seniors as well as with parents. As an active member of Pennsylvania ACAC, I see how the support of NACAC enables us to create and implement new initiatives, such as Camp College, which I have co-chaired since its inception.

Do you have any advice for professionals new to the field?
Be patient.Pace yourself.Find a mentor or group of likeminded counselors.Have fun.It is a long road and during the school year it can feel overwhelming, but if you stay the course, and stay positive you will get through the thick of it.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing counselors today?
Balancing everything that must be done throughout the college application and financial aid processes with other in-school responsibilities can be challenging. It is such a joy when I can simply meet with students and parents, but there are so many other obligations in this work that it can sometimes become overwhelming. Lunch duty, transition support, trip chaperoning, class covering and other high school responsibilities can sometimes feel like they are in the way, but working with students in any capacity gives me energy. I am big on self-care and I try to pace myself whenever possible to ensure that I don’t burn out from the many tasks thrown my way.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I am extremely family-oriented and am a hands-on mom and wife. My daughters are ages 7 and 16, which is a big gap in age and development, but I love the diversity in their needs. One hour it’s second grade sight words and dance classes, and the next it’s AP History and modeling. My husband and I are renovating our new home so Home Depot is our hangout spot at the moment. I am also the author of a new book, “Creatively Closing the Gap Unconventional Ways to Find Money for College.” I love to laugh and enjoy the music of Michael Jackson. Oh, and Beyoncé. I definitely love Beyoncé!

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
Olivia Pope from the Shonda Rhimes television drama Scandal. I am definitely a “fixer” both professionally and personally. Her catch phrase -- “It’s handled” -- is my way of life.

Describe yourself in five words.
Resourceful, Solutions-Oriented, Creative, Passionate, and Kind-Hearted.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I really like what I do in the profession. Over the past 13 years of counseling and working with youth, I have grown tremendously in both my passion and knowledge base. I value the relationships I have built through NACAC over the years and am happy to be a part of such an organization. 

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