Meet Jodi Hester

Jodi HesterJodi Hester
College Counselor
Woodward Academy (GA)

What drew you to the world of college counseling?
Growing up in Davenport, Iowa, I had no idea that college counseling even existed. I had an old-fashioned guidance counselor who told me that I wouldn’t get into my top choice college because his son hadn’t gotten in, so surely, I wouldn’t get in. (I did get in, by the way.) Once I became a college admission officer and was introduced to college counseling and the positive impact a good, supportive college counselor could have on her students, I was all in. In my travels, I met wonderful college counselors like Jackie Pegram at Benjamin Banneker HS (DC) and Susan Tree at Westtown School (PA) who inspired me and helped me know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

What is your favorite part of the job?
One of my favorite things is when my former students come to visit and share their college stories with me. I love seeing how my students bloom and grow in their college homes. As a college counselor, I sometimes think it’s my job to believe in my students until they get to the point they can begin to believe in themselves. Hearing newfound confidence in their voices and the strong sense of self they’ve developed is always a gift. I also love that I’m always learning something new. Yes, I’ve been a college counselor for more than 20 years, but there is always something new and different about each year. I learn something new each day. 

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
NACAC has been my village. I’ve made so many wonderful friends and met some amazing people through NACAC. It’s also my go-to place for resources and it helps me to stay fresh and current on important issues. It can be easy to just get caught up with what’s happening at my school, but NACAC reminds me to keep looking at the bigger issues, to continue thinking ahead to future generations of students and professionals to come.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
Forgetting that we’re all in this together. We need each other and it’s critical that we find ways to communicate. As our world becomes evermore polarized and entrenched, we have to fight to maintain basic civility. How can we expect our students and parents to behave, if we don’t? We have to ensure that we see people, not positions and titles. Our value isn’t tied to our roles or institutions; we must recognize the humanity in each other.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I love being a volunteer usher! I usher at several venues in Atlanta—Fox Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Rialto Theatre. I get to see wonderful performances at the low, low price of free.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
One of my favorite ‘90s sitcoms is Living Single with a great cast, including Queen Latifah who played Khadijah James. I’d want to be Khadijah, she was the founder, editor, and publisher of her own magazine. She was the glue that held her friends together. She was confident, strong, fun-loving, super smart, resilient, and caring. She had all of the qualities that I hope others see in me. Plus, when the show was airing, my friends often told me that I just like Synclaire, Khadijah’s sweet, but slightly naïve cousin. I’d much rather be Khadijah than Synclaire.   

Describe yourself in five words.
Joyful. Hopeful. Outgoing. Empathetic. Problem-solver.

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