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Meet Rachel Accavitti

Headshot of Rachael AccavittiRachael Accavitti
Vice President of Programs
Chicago Scholars (IL)
Co-Leader of the Community-Based Organizations SIG

What drew you to college access work?
Despite attending a relatively well-resourced high school, I spent just six total minutes with a college counselor in four total years. And at a young age, I quickly came to appreciate (though not fully understand) the impact unequal access to information and people in positions of power can have on the college process. As a result, throughout my early career, I intentionally sought out roles that allowed me to facilitate for students those moments of self-reflection and discovery that I missed and longed for in my own application and enrollment experience. 

After graduate school, I started working in admission at Tulane University (LA). There I was given the opportunity to serve as the liaison to a number of community-based organizations, including Chicago Scholars—where I work now. I found myself feeling most energized by the college access piece of my job and motivated to enact real change not just on my own campus, but also within the larger postsecondary pathway itself. So, when a position overseeing all college partnerships was created at Chicago Scholars, it was a perfect transition.

What is your favorite part of the job?
I enjoy so much about my job!  But my favorite part is probably playing a role in facilitating meaningful connections. I consider myself immensely lucky that in my position, I get to help introduce so many talented students to schools they might not have otherwise considered. Similarly, I love bringing colleges face-to-face with ambitious students that they likely would not get to meet if they stuck to their prescribed, years-old high school visit itineraries. These relationships are transformative, as both the students and the reps realize that paper—college brochures or statistics on an application—can only tell part of the story.

How did you get involved with the Community-Based Organizations SIG?
It was pretty simple...by using my voice! I had attended a couple of the meetings at NACAC conferences and connected with the group on social media. When Tracy Kyttle, the former chair, announced she was exiting, I reached out and offered to help. From there, I had a conversation with my fantastic co-chair, Ellen Ridyard, to discuss how we could collaborate and grow the community.

Why is this SIG important to you?
Unfortunately, community-based organizations are still consistently underrepresented at conferences, on counselor advisory boards, at fly-in programs, etc. And when the CBO voice is included in these spaces, there is a tendency to regard it as homogenous, which is not at all the case. I am glad that this SIG can elevate the unique perspectives that make up this growing sector within our profession. 

Why should counselors and admission professionals get involved with a NACAC SIG?
Special Interest Groups exemplify those rare places that are free from competitiveness and exist primarily to foster community, promote transparency, and share resources. I also firmly believe that it is vital to have a space that is yours—one separate from “work”—where you can explore struggles, learn about best practices, and find unexpected avenues for collaboration. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
The system isn’t changing at the same rate or pace as our students need it to. And what's worse is that we are still placing the onus on students to transform their postsecondary institutions, when instead that change must happen from within the universities themselves.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
Meal prepping, talking about meal prepping, spending time with my dog, or analyzing “The Real Housewives” through a feminist theory lens.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Alex Owens from Flashdance, because I like to consider myself well-rounded.

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