Associate Director of College Counseling
Episcopal High School (VA)
Co-Leader of the African American SIG
What drew you to the world of college admission?
What was supposed to be a break between graduation and law school has morphed into my life’s passion and purpose. From a very young age, I gained fulfillment from helping others. I began my career in higher education as an admission counselor for my alma mater, Louisiana State University (GEAUX TIGERS!). While serving as a regional rep for LSU in Atlanta, GA, I began to get more fulfillment from the relationships I built with my recruited students and families. Before long, a spark for promoting access and advocacy for students grew into a flame. With much encouragement and assurance from my very own college counselor/second mom, Juliet Johnson (GA), and other college counseling extraordinaires like Jodi Hester at Woodward Academy (GA), Michele Davis at Walker School (GA), and Sarbeth Fleming at The Westminster Schools, I solidified and responded to my calling for college counseling.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Mentoring students beyond the college application process. Being a college counselor is more than marshaling off my college admission knowledge and experience. It is a pivotal life moment in which I guide students through the rigors of the application process. The college admission season is a fraught, vulnerable time for students and a significant milestone in their growth and transition. Students not only require insightful information, resources, and personal advocacy through the college process, but perhaps most importantly, a mentor to help them find their voice/path, discern their options, and work through the inevitable ups and downs that arise before and after any college acceptance letter arrives. It is incredibly rewarding to visit my former students at various institutions and see them flourishing, thriving, and blossoming into the amazing young adults they aspired to be. It gives me chills every time!
How did you get involved with the African American SIG?
If there was one meeting I was told not to miss at my first NACAC, it was the African American Special Interest Group. I have been active in the African American SIG and other NACAC SIGs since the beginning of my professional career at LSU. I was asked to co-lead this sacred space two years ago, and it has been full of immense professional growth and joy.
Why is this SIG important to you?
Every year I walk into the African American SIG meeting I feel seen! It's like attending a family reunion filled with love, solidarity, and kinship. There is an inherent value in simply having space where we as people can intentionally convene, discuss, and share issues and experiences that are important to us and the various beautiful shades of the black and brown students we serve is doubly impactful. It's also a place where we come to fill our cups and drink from the well of knowledge of those who have paved the way in our profession. Our SIG is an excellent opportunity to develop the next leaders of color within higher education.
Why should counselors and admission professionals get involved with a NACAC SIG?
Your membership is wanted and needed! Joining any of the 32 SIGs will allow you to connect and form relationships with colleagues who share a similar identity, background, and/or interest. The SIGs will provide anyone an enriching experience through interactions with others from various professional backgrounds. It's also an excellent way to find impactful leadership or volunteer opportunities with NACAC or your affiliate that will further the mission or goals of the SIG. Furthermore, it's a place where an individual voice can be heard and where someone can have an active role in implementing changes and improvements for our profession.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
Secondary schools, colleges, and universities need to institute better hiring and retention practices for people of color. Studies have shown that representation matters, and students of color deserve to see professionals who look like them aiding them through the college application process as well as in those who recruit and admit them. It is also time for our profession to transition from being culturally competent to culturally proficient. If education is the true equalizer, secondary schools, colleges, and universities must go beyond tolerating or accepting diversity to achieve cultural proficiency. Diversity in college admission is more than three-day conferences or quick meetings. Cultural proficiency will change how colleges and secondary schools hire people of color and will change the admission landscape for students of color, from evaluation to matriculation and beyond.
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I love to travel to experience new places and cultures. Whether it’s a domestic or international destination, I never hesitate to buy a plane ticket. I am an avid foodie and often visit many restaurants in DC trying different cuisines, but as a Louisiana boy, I can hold it down in the kitchen. Music is like therapy for me, and I attend live concerts as often as possible.
If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
As a kid, Carlton Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is one of the first black boys that I saw on TV that embodied and portrayed me. He was effervescent, precocious, defined his own sense of style, rocked bowties, and was the epitome of my personal mantra of spreading black boy joy combined with a level of wit and outspokenness that allowed him to relate to younger and older people alike.
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