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Meet Heather Riley

Headshot of Heather RileyHeather Riley   
College Counselor
Lexington Christian Academy (KY)

What drew you to the world of college admission?
I worked in financial aid while obtaining my master’s degree, which stood out on my application when I applied for my first college admission job. I honestly didn’t know much about the field before working in it, but I knew that it incorporated a lot of the skills that I already had, such as customer service, presenting, and building relationships. I stayed on the college side for over five years because of the fast-pace. I loved that my job was cyclical and never stagnant.

What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of my job is cultivating relationships, which has been very helpful during my first semester on the high school side. Whether it’s advising students in my office, meeting with parents at events, or getting to know college admission counselors, I just really enjoy getting to know people. Our backgrounds tell us a lot about who we are or why we do things, which is incredibly beneficial for me to be able to do my job well.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
I’ve been able to attend two national conferences and numerous state affiliate conferences over the years, allowing me to meet colleagues from across the country. I’m a big fan of networking and collaborating and NACAC has opened up a lot of doors for those things to happen. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
Our field doesn’t offer a chance for our workers, especially at the entry-level, to feel okay about not constantly doing or thinking about our work. Burnout is real and we must “practice what we preach” in terms of allowing employees to simply breathe. Without that chance, we are going to continue seeing high turnover rates in our offices.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I love to cook, especially for other people! I also volunteer for my sorority and find a lot of pleasure in helping our organization.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
I really admire Mary Poppins and her ability to bring order and make sense of chaos while also being such a beloved character. It doesn’t hurt that she has a beautiful singing voice and can fly!

Describe yourself in five words.
Efficient. Passionate. Kind-hearted. Thorough. Loyal.

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