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Meet Stephanie Tengelsen

Stephanie Tengelsen
Associate Director, Admission and Communication
University of Denver (CO)

What drew you to the admission field?  
I was always drawn to education but didn’t know where my best fit was to be found. When I learned more about admission – the cyclical yet ever-evolving nature of the job, the impact you’re able to have on the futures of students, the essay reading (I love it!), the travel to both new and familiar places, the very real opportunity to help create a community you’re proud to be a member of –I was hooked. It helps that our team in undergraduate admission at the University of Denver is more like a family. I work with an intelligent, cohesive, compassionate, and wonderfully sarcastic group of people. It’s not a bad gig!

What is your favorite part of the job?
My office does a stellar job at utilizing people’s strengths, and I’m fortunate that my favorite aspects of my job are also the ones I’m allowed to excel in. I have a background in theatre, am process-oriented, love to experience the life stories of others, and was an English major at UCLA. My role allows me to be on stage, to read about the intimate trials and triumphs of our applicants, assist students and parents through a uniquely challenging yet exciting time in their lives, as well as create and edit content for our communication team. It’s an impressively perfect match for my skillset. I’m very lucky.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
I’ll never forget my first NACAC conference in Baltimore, MD. I was surrounded by people who were more knowledgeable, more experienced, and more “in the game” than I was. It was overwhelming, but also motivating. It made me want to read and learn as much as possible, raise my own standards on what I felt I was able to contribute, and wholeheartedly commit to this profession. Over a decade later, I’m surrounded by those same people, many of whom have now become friends and colleagues. The support they provide to their individual communities (and to me) is invaluable and inspiring, particularly in my own Rocky Mountain ACAC backyard. NACAC provided me a well-polished window into a world I was just learning to navigate.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
I’m mindful that there are different sides of the desk and diverse populations with varying needs – it doesn’t feel prudent to place one particular challenge above all others. Affordability and fully funding the very deserving students who want to be on our college and university campuses are certainly at or near the top of my own list. Both personally and professionally, I’d also like to see more understanding and recognition of the fact that everyone is dealing with their own struggles, and that everyone brings something unique and valuable to the table. A little more compassion and a little more grace – along with a little less talking and a lot more listening - would go a long way.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I’m a big fan of podcasts (any My Favorite Murder fans in NACACland?! #SSDGM) and word game puzzle apps. They’re both relaxing and stimulating. Killing time with my 13-yr-old daughter – when we have no agenda and can land wherever we want, preferably while listening to one of her favorite classic rock bands on the drive – is high on the list. Hiking and wine with friends, exploring new breweries on a Sunday with my fiancé, sitting at a restaurant counter or bar while eating and drinking delicious things and having the kinds of conversations that make you want to do it all over again the next day… those moments are hard to beat.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
I should name some archaic literary heroine, but I’m going with Phoebe Buffay from Friends. She’s a generous, fun, resilient badass who doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her.

Describe yourself in five words.
Grateful, authentic, considerate, reliable, and tough.

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