Why do you choose to stay involved with NACAC post-retirement?
I am embarrassed to admit that for the majority of my career as a high school counselor I was not aware of the existence of NACAC. I was the counselor for high-risk students and my goal was to get the majority to graduate from high school. I would consider it a great success if a few attended a state university or a UC. The skills of the majority of my students were not strong and their emotional problems were great, so getting them to stay in high school was quite an achievement. Most of the counselors I worked with were on reactive mode and we did not even contemplate being able to create a college-going culture.
About 10 years ago I went to my first “Share, Learn, and Connect” where I learned about Western ACAC and NACAC. Soon after, District Directions (DD), from WACAC, trained our district counselors on how to create a college-going culture. As a result of the training, Sequoia High School was never the same. Through DD we learned how to become proactive and intentional at creating a college-going culture. Subsequently, at the NACAC conference we gained additional knowledge and tools that helped us transform our school. The number of students that now attend four-year private and public institutions has grown dramatically. Every year I attended the conference I went back to work with more tools for the trade, a renewed shot of energy, and hope that we could do better than the year before. The information and practical tools on the website are also incredibly helpful and supportive.
I am grateful to NACAC for all their help and support in helping me become a much better counselor and leader at my school. Now that I am retired I want to continue to help NACAC reach out to more counselors and help them become the counselors they are capable of becoming, and through them, offer better college preparation to all of our students.
You retired last June. How long were you involved in the counseling field and how did you get your start?
I was a counselor for 31 years. The last six years in my profession I was the head counselor at Sequoia High School (CA). Before becoming a counselor, I was a high school teacher for six years. I taught in the bilingual program. I noticed that these students were not being given college prep classes. I felt that their limited English proficiency was also interpreted as limited intelligence. Many super bright and stellar students were in remedial classes only because they lacked fluency in English. I believed that if I became their counselor I could program them into more challenging classes that would get them prepared for four-year college admission.
Do you have any advice for those new to the field?
Believe in yourself and the power of your advocacy! Regardless of how high risk your students may be, you can help them see themselves as worthy to become who ever they wish to become. Instilling hope in your students is one of the most powerful things you can do for them. Be intentional in creating a proactive counseling program at your school. Stay connected with NACAC and your regional association and reach out to them for training. You will be amazed by the impact this will make in your work.
You’ve been a supporter of the Imagine Fund. Why do you choose to give to NACAC?
I am the daughter of migrant and blue-collar workers. Without financial assistance I would not have ever made it to college. The scholarships and financial aid I received did two very important things for me. They made it possible for me to go to college. Most important, when I saw how others believed in me and were willing to invest in my future, this helped me to believe so much more in myself and to never give up.
If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
I cannot think of a fictional character that I would want to be. However, I have always loved and been inspired by Sor Juana Inez De La Cruz. She was a self-educated scholar, philosopher, scientist, poet and writer who was passionate about learning. She grew up during colonial times, when, in Mexico, women were not allowed to go to study. Her story of courage and determination gave me the courage to work hard and succeed. Through her example, I learned that I could persevere as long as I did not give up!
Describe yourself in five words.
God-centered, loving, assertive, tenacious, passionate, and edifier.
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