Meet Elsa von Heydenreich

Elsa von Heydenreich
Director of College Counseling
Sequoyah School (CA)

How did you become the director of college counseling at the Sequoyah School?
I never thought I’d leave the institution I worked at for 28 years (can I add I was Meghan Markle’s college counselor?), but, Sequoyah happened. A new high school in Pasadena with an exciting program -- I was hooked. I made the move and have never looked back. I was introduced to the school indirectly and approached to represent it in early recruitment meetings, well before the campus opened. Each time I heard the founding faculty and administration speak I became more intrigued and hooked. The entire program tickled my fancy -- from location to curriculum to faculty to students to the focus on social innovation. I jumped at the chance to become the founding college counselor. It has been a wonderful, fun, challenging, exciting, invigorating adventure.

What made you decide to get into this field?
It’s been a while -- over thirty-five years -- and I honestly don’t remember. I began my career within the confines of a more general counseling position -- a little bit of personal and academic counseling, a little bit of college. Ultimately, college counseling won out. It’s more refreshing and fulfilling.

What is your favorite part of the job?
The students. The students. THE STUDENTS! They make the work so satisfying, so worthwhile. I learn a great deal from them and enjoy every moment. My colleagues, too, enrich all parts of this job. My closest, dearest friends are from our ranks.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
It’s provided me with a strong base within this profession. It has introduced me to the membership via board service as the last coordinator for multicultural concerns, as a member of the National College Fair Committee, as chair of the Greater Los Angeles National College Fair, as an Assembly delegate, and as a Multicultural Institute for Advanced Thinking and Practices in Admission participant. It’s provided leadership opportunities and incomparable mentors. It’s been a rudder and a resource.

You’ve been a supporter of the Imagine Fund. Why do you choose to give to NACAC’s fund?
It’s such a great professional asset. From those who are just starting out to the most experienced, NACAC offers enrichment. It is clearly dedicated to our students and those who are underserved. It keeps equity, fair play, honesty and transparency at the forefront. What better organization to give to?

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I’m currently the state record holder for my age and weight class in powerlifting. I love lifting the heavy stuff. Reading and travel, hanging with friends and family -- love doing all of this.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Auntie Mame. “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” I enjoyed her take on life, love, family, and society.

Describe yourself in five words.
Adventurous, honest, open, happy, and thoughtful.

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