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Meet Peggy Jenkins

Peggy JenkinsPeggy Jenkins
Founding Director
Palouse Pathways (ID)
Co-Leader of the Rural and Small Town SIG

What drew you to the world of college access?
When I practiced law in Honolulu, I enjoyed helping nieces and nephews with their college choices.  But what really drew me in was realizing what a great disparity there was in the allocation of information and resources needed to have and make good college choices. In my rural area on the Idaho-Washington border, students got few visits from colleges; families knew little about the opportunities out there and how to take advantage of them. And colleges outside of the region knew very little about our students.

What is your favorite part of the job?
There are two:

One is hearing back from students who feel like Palouse Pathways gave them the tools they needed to make really sound decisions that helped them land in a place where they could thrive.

Another is collaborating with professionals from all over with a shared interest in improving student access. I love the energy and creativity and collegiality. 

How did you get involved with the Rural and Small Town SIG?
In October 2017, after attending my first NACAC conference, I created a Facebook group for folks interested in rural students. That group attracted some wonderful people, including Andrew Moe from Swarthmore. Andrew is from a rural background (as are many college admission professionals) and we had really been working on a parallel track to elevate rural student interests and concerns. The two of us decided to have a meet up at the NACAC National Conference in 2018 to see if there was interest in organizing rural student advocates, and there was! We formed the SIG several months later.

Why is this SIG important to you?
It’s provided a great opportunity to share resources. We connect high school counselors with great scholarships, opportunities, and information. We help admissions professionals connect with rural students and schools and gather information about rural experiences. The SIG also provides a space for creativity and collaboration and discussion. I am really amazed by what the SIG has done and can do, and I credit my co-moderators Andrew Moe and Dustin Lynn (from Battleground Academy in Franklin, Tennessee) for that. They are rock stars.

Why should counselors and admission professionals get involved with a NACAC SIG?
NACAC is big, and to tell you the truth I was intimidated when I went to my first conference. It felt like everyone knew everyone and it was challenging to get a foothold. SIGs provide a terrific point of entry to NACAC. A way to build relationships and also to share information about and advocate for things that matter.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
Ugh, there are many. In my work I’m dismayed by the increased volume of the voices downplaying the importance of college. Of course, four-year college isn’t for everyone. But in a state like Idaho where fewer than half the students “go on” to postsecondary education or training, I think these voices hurt a lot more than they help. The challenge is trying to acknowledge the reasons that rural and small-town families see college as more trouble than it’s worth, and address them.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I like travel (especially to Boston to visit my son), cook with my husband, read, and argue about politics on Twitter. I am active in my Unitarian Universalist Church. I practice yoga and hope to master a yoga headstand soon.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Teresita from The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea, because she’s strong and magical.

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