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Meet Falone Serna

Falone Serna
Director of Admission
Pepperdine University (CA)

How did you become the director of admission at Pepperdine?
My career started as an admission counselor at my alma mater, the University of La Verne (CA). Despite developing a heart to serve students and families, I left the profession to finish my master’s degree and try my hand in another field. I eventually returned to higher ed and landed at the admission office at Harvey Mudd College (CA). My experiences there helped me earn my first management position as director of admission at Reed College (OR). After helping lead that office for a few years, I made the move back down to SoCal last October to assume my current role as the undergraduate director of admission for Pepperdine.

What is your favorite part of the job?
I enjoy strategic planning and being involved in the discussions that shape my office’s goals, initiatives, policies, and procedures. These decisions impact how accessible my university can be for prospective students. Getting to connect directly with students and families through outreach, recruitment, and application reading also gives me life, so I try to be involved with that as much as I can.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
The opportunities I’ve had to work with NACAC and my regional affiliates helped broaden my perspectives on issues relating to higher education and enrollment management beyond what I would have been able to experience in my home offices alone. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own institutional bubbles but it’s important to be educated on issues that impact all students, not just the slice that make up our respective applicant pools.

Additionally, being a member of NACAC has helped me develop a strong professional network that has become a real asset in my career. I value being able to call on colleagues from all over the country to collaborate, share ideas, or just verify that I’m not going crazy!

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?The ability of students and families to keep up with the rising cost of education concerns me. Even if we can keep actual cost at bay with financial aid, I worry that sticker shock will eventually get the best of us.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
Being present with my family. I can’t remember exactly where I heard this, but something that has always stuck with me is the idea that being successful professionally at the expense of being a good husband and father is ultimately a failure. Thankfully Pepperdine’s environment encourages us to live with a healthy work-home balance. Individually, I like weight training, listening to podcasts, and about 6 years ago I picked up playing the bass guitar. I haven’t been able to play much in the last couple of years but I’d like to start again soon.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Luke Cage, because…doesn’t everyone want to be bulletproof?!!  Aside from the super powers I appreciate that even though he can be selfish, sometimes acts on emotions over logic, and makes mistakes, the viewer (or reader for my fellow comic book geeks) understands his intentions come from a good place. Despite his flaws, he is still accepted as a hero.

Describe yourself in five words.
I am anxious for nothing.

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