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Meet Victor Thomas

Headshot of Victor ThomasVictor Thomas
Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions
Washington University in St. Louis (MO)

What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
The more interesting question is what drew me back to college admission. Like many admission folks, I got my first job in admission from my alma mater right after graduating. After four years, I left to teach high school mathematics in Saint Louis Public Schools. It was during my time in the classroom that I began to really consider the impact that college access work can have on students navigating the college search. I was drawn back to the admission field, with the hope that my experience in the classroom would influence my work and my team in understanding the academic dimension of students’ applications.

What is your favorite part of the job?
I love the storytelling aspect of the work—telling the story of an institution, its programs, its traditions. Admission officers also tell stories about students who apply, distilling their applications down into an essence to share with other admission committee members. WashU has an informal motto—“To know every student by name and story”—and I share this motto with students to remind them that their application is, at its core, a story they are packaging for admission committees.

How has NACAC played a role in your career? 
NACAC has provided me opportunities to exchange knowledge with people who play different roles in helping students navigate the college search experience. I think some of the most powerful experiences I’ve had through NACAC are ones where I’ve been able to hear from folks who support students in high schools or at CBOs about their perspectives and priorities. I’d love to see more programs like the Wisdom Exchanges develop into even more sustained knowledge-sharing experiences.  

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
I like to frame challenges as opportunities. I absolutely believe that implementing policies that increase accessibility to college, and effectively communicating these policies, is imperative. I also believe we have an opportunity to shift our collective mindsets around how we discuss and create pathways for all students, not just the highest-achieving ones. The common thread across these opportunities is the necessity of working collaboratively from many different angles as we support students in their journeys.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I love spending time outdoors—running, hiking, float tripping. I try to squeeze in a backpacking trip each summer; some of my favorites have been trekking part of the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon, and a two-week trip around Lake Tahoe on the Tahoe Rim Trail. When I am fortunate enough to travel, I also enjoy visiting breweries and exploring the architecture of different cities.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Maybe Willy Wonka? I have a sweet tooth that sometimes gets me in trouble, so I might regret this choice. I am drawn to Willy’s wild imagination and am intrigued by his eccentric benevolence. Ultimately, I appreciate that he is exceptionally discerning as he weeds out each of the undeserving kids in the golden ticket contest.

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