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Meet Grace Cheng

Grace Cheng
Director of Admission
Wellesley College (MA)

How did you become the director of admission at Wellesley College?
I came to Wellesley in 2015 as director of admission after being an associate director of admissions at Harvard, and former director of college counseling at Taipei American School in Taiwan.

What made you decide to get into this field?
I started in the field in 2002 after a short career in public accounting and consulting. Before that time, I was an alumni volunteer for Harvard and thought it would be more fulfilling to advise young adults and talk about the residential college experience that I myself enjoyed so much. I firmly believe in the power of a liberal arts education and the important role colleges and universities have in teaching transferable skills for life. 

What is your favorite part of the job?
I love the teaching and advising part of what I do – whether it’s in encouraging prospective students, steering parents, empathizing with counselors, or managing everyone’s anxieties and expectations. I get to be part saleswoman, part therapist, part road warrior, and part stand-up comedian. You absolutely need a healthy sense of humor when working with students and parents.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
NACAC has been integral in providing me opportunities to network with colleagues from both sides of the desk, both informally and formally. It is so important to foster professional relationships because we are all in this profession together for our students. I am grateful for mentors I’ve met at conferences and workshops who have helped me succeed in this industry, and it has been an honor to present and collaborate with them in addressing regional and national issues that affect many of us collectively.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I love cooking and enjoy being a baking/cooking instructor in any spare time I can find. I also have trained for marathons to balance out my caloric intake.

Some know I was almost seen on MasterChef Season 4, but I wanted to keep my full-time job and I was not able to take a leave of absence between January-March for filming. Knowing that I worked in college admission, the show could have portrayed me as an outrageously judgmental person, I imagine!

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Penny, the niece of Inspector Gadget. She’s fearless, quick on her toes, smart as a whip, and used to being around others who think they always know what they are talking about.

Describe yourself in five words.
Entertaining, creative, adventurous, blunt, and efficient.

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