Meet Shanna Pomager

Shanna Pomager
Senior Associate Director of Admission and Campus Visit Manager
University of Denver (CO)

What drew you to the world of college admission? 
When I was an undergrad at the University of Denver (CO), I thought I was going to be a consultant because that’s what you did in the 90s - you defined success as making it big in “Corporate America.” I didn’t really know what this meant and I didn’t have any subject matter expertise, but I knew I enjoyed being a tour guide, so I wanted to do “that” in the business world. It wasn’t until one of the admission staff told me you could earn a master’s for free if you worked for the institution, which piqued my interest in working in education. Six years into my admission counselor position I was no longer looking into an MBA, and I started to pursue my MA in higher education. Nineteen years later and I’m doing what I set out to do as an undergrad - consulting.

What is your favorite part of the job?
Trying to narrate the perfect DU experience – the story that is authentic and describes where we are as an institution, but also where we are striving to be. Where I find the most impact in this impossible quest is helping our tour guides learn that their story is just one of many, and to help them see beyond the mainstream. A university can be both easy and challenging to navigate depending on your knowledge base and social network, and it’s our responsibility to help them realize they only know and provide one lens. To see something from someone else’s eyes, that’s a transferable skillset we hope they use well beyond their campus touring days.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
Within a month of becoming a full-time staff member I was sent to the NACAC national conference. The idea that I had stumbled into a profession, not just a job, was life-changing, and being a member of the National College Fair committee awoke me to the diversity of institutions on both the high school and college side of the aisle.  Volunteering has a tricky way of creeping into your life, and I soon found myself involved on the Rocky Mountain ACAC Executive Board for seven years and co-chairing the Local Arrangements Committee for the national conference in Denver. In fact, four of those RMACAC board members attended my wedding!

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
I love education because of the potential it has to help create change and promote social mobility. I quickly learned that to create real change, we need to provide a more equitable admission process system. I haven’t found it yet, but I’m proud of the 19 years of tweaks that have been made.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
Play in the dirt. Before kids, my husband and I would take a week off and volunteer by trail building the Colorado Trail - think digging up trees, removing brush, and paving a way for hikers. These days, I work in my garden. It takes a lot of patience, and is just as physically demanding over the summer as a week up in the mountains, but I learn from my mistakes, and our dinner plates are more diverse because of it. This year I’ve added brussel sprouts to the mix… much to my family’s dismay! 

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Katniss in the Hunger Games. Mom with the unhappy kids at the grocery store and a counselor on the road – see my three fingers in the air for solidarity.

Describe yourself in five words.
Persistent, loyal, pragmatic, unruffled, and question-asker. (My co-worker added that last one. I kept it because I know my boss would agree.

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