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Meet Rae-Anne Mena

Rae-Anne Mena headshotRae-Anne Mena
Assistant Program Director
Saint Louis University (MO)

Co-Leader of the Regional Admission Counselors SIG

What drew you to the world of college admission?
Like a lot of us in this field, my interest in college admission started as a tour guide in college at the University of Miami. If I am being completely honest though, I was originally interested in becoming a tour guide because it got you early registration for classes. Lucky for me there were some amazing admission professionals in the Office of Undergraduate Admission at the University of Miami who made me realize how fun and rewarding the college admission process can be. Fast forward to my senior year when I needed to complete an internship for my public relations major and someone suggested I complete it in the Office of Admission since so much of what we do in admissions is PR. That internship solidified my interest in the world of college admission and I went on to begin my career as an admission counselor at Loyola University New Orleans (LA) after graduation. Over 20 years later, I’m still in college admission and loving it.

What is your favorite part of the job?
Without a doubt, it is working with students during this exciting time in their lives. So much of who they want to and will become is coming into focus and as the admission counselor, we get to come along for a small part of the journey. I especially love reading their essays! I laugh, I cry, and sometimes even find a new motivational quote or two.

How did you get involved with the Regional Admission Counselors SIG?
I’ve been so fortunate to have consistently attended the annual NACAC conference for the past 12 years or so and as the Regional Admission Counselor Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting time starting appearing on the schedule, I started attending. As more and more colleges and universities have added regionally based admission counselors, we’ve seen regionally based counselors start to band together in the territory where they live and work and create regional groups across the country. Through my leadership in my local regional group ROAR (Regional Officers of Admissions of the Rockies) I’ve had the opportunity to get involved at the national level through things like the Regional Admission Counselor SIG.

Why is this SIG important to you?
Having been a regionally based admission representative for 15 of my 20-something years in admission, the Regional Admission Counselors SIG has been the start of many of the national conversations we have as regional representatives. Having an official SIG meeting time to get together at NACAC conferences led to conversations that made us realize how important sharing best practices could be among regionals across the country. Conversations that started at a Regional Admission Counselor SIG meeting have led to follow-up conversations over the years with NACAC and affiliate ACACs to make sure regionally based admission counselors are properly represented when it comes to membership categories and opportunities to serve their affiliate (especially if their institution was located within another affiliate). Those conversations created a path for me to get involved locally, regionally, and nationally in this profession.

Why should counselors and admission professionals get involved with a NACAC SIG?
NACAC is a large organization and it can often be hard to find your place, but the SIGs give you a smaller cohort to connect with. They bring colleagues together on a national level for conversations and collaborations that might not have happened otherwise and can often lead to bigger and better things for our profession. A simple question asked at a Regional Admission Counselor SIG meeting years ago led to the creation of a national survey among regional admission counselors. That survey has helped regional admission counselors across the country start conversations in their own offices about everything from regional support and structure to compensation. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
Finding ways to resource what is under-resourced, all of it…funding, equity, counseling caseloads, self-care, kindness, etc.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
Travel with my family (especially road trips). Even though working over 20 years in college admission has meant many nights away from home, it also means that I have been to 46 of the 50 states. I still need to visit North Dakota, Montana, Alaska, and Minnesota. Thanks to the location of 2020 NACAC National Conference, I should be up to 47 states soon.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?I think I’d pick Leslie Knope from the TV show “Parks and Rec.” I love how she manages to bloom where she is planted but keeps working toward her long-term goals. She manages to do it all while remaining extremely cheerful, ambitious, hardworking, and optimistic. 

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