Member Spotlight: Olander Fleming

Southeast Regional Coordinator
University of Maryland-College Park

How has your career path led you to work as the Southeast Regional Coordinator at the University of Maryland?
I stumbled upon admission as a career after graduating from Hampden-Sydney College (VA) with a degree in Spanish in 2010. I wanted to use my degree and language skills on the job, yet didn’t see myself in a classroom teaching Spanish. A few months after graduating, I found a position as an admission counselor for Emerging Populations at Longwood University (VA) which required speaking Spanish. I was able to advance to an assistant director position, while travelling and recruiting students from North Carolina to Connecticut and Latin America. I also helped grow a network of bilingual Spanish-speaking admission professionals from other institutions and high schools who worked together to put on Noche Informativas (College Information Nights) for Spanish-speaking students and their families in Northern Virginia.

I spent six years at Longwood before I made the transition to a new position—Southeast Regional Coordinator for the University of Maryland-College Park (MD), where I will continue to use my skills to recruit students from Florida and Georgia.

What is the value of NACAC not in only in your career, but in all aspects of your life?

NACAC has proven to be very helpful in not only developing me as a well-rounded professional but also in the advancement of my career. I think it is important to note the professional development resources NACAC offers aren't restricted to attending the national conference.  The NACAC Journal College Admission, website, webinars, and workshops held before local NACAC National College Fairs are just some of the resources I use to learn more about the field. I’ve been able to rely on a variety of information learned during NACAC programming to help guide leadership on ethical issues related to undocumented students and their families on options to pursue educational dreams and to plan out a path to a leadership position within my regional ACAC one day.

Do you plan to attend NACAC’s National Conference in Columbus, OH? If so, what tips do you have for first-timers?

Yes, I plan on attending the national conference in Columbus this year. Last year’s conference in San Diego was my first time at the national conference yet wasn’t my first year in admission.

My advice for those who are experienced in the field yet a first-timer at the conference: take time to reconnect with colleagues who you may have met years ago on the road. It is always great to be at a conference where you know other individuals in attendance.

Take time to visit the exhibitors as well. There are some very neat partners within education who have ideas and/or services that could help your office, regardless of which side of the desk you sit on.

Lastly, I would recommend attending one of the preconference workshops that take place before the national conference.  Last year, I was able to attend the Admission Middle Management Institute (AMMI) and thoroughly enjoyed learning more on topics ranging from leadership to admission trends to budget management.

You’ve attended NACAC’s Emerging Admission Professionals (EAP) Summer Institute and Guiding the Way to Inclusion (GWI) conference. Why are these initiatives important to you?

NACAC’s EAP Summer Institute was a big factor in me identifying how to advance in admission and learn who our partners are on Capitol Hill and within the Washington, DC area. Before the Institute, I often wondered how to advance my career. Sometimes, it seems as if there is a gap between those who are in the first few years of admission and those who have been around for years as leaders at each of our institutions.  There aren’t many examples of those who are on the path to become a leader. The meetings with different organizations while in DC helped bridge that gap and provide a clearer picture on how to advance. I hope NACAC considers putting together this institute again soon for a new group of admission professionals.

GWI is one of the more memorable conferences I have attended and one I hope to attend again. I enjoyed meeting admission professionals from around the nation who focus on diversity recruitment. It was great to bounce ideas off each other and share what works for us at our jobs. One of the other components I enjoyed was the teamwork/mentorship activity of the conference where we were placed in groups with a GWI Faculty Advisor. (Go Green Team!)

What advice do you have for professionals who are new to the field and interested in getting involved?

My advice for someone new to the field is to reach out to your regional ACAC and start from there. Become a member, introduce yourself, and look to see how you can use your passion/expertise in admission and volunteer to help. For me, my volunteer activity was blowing up balloons for the annual Potomac and Chesapeake ACAC (PCACAC) conference.

Now, my passion isn’t blowing up balloons, but it was a great way for me to show I wanted to help. That allowed me to network more with other members and leadership within PCACAC and has led to a delegate position and presenting at Counselor Drive-Ins.  Start small, honor your commitments, and you will grow a positive reputation.

You’re an active member in your affiliate. How have those experiences influenced your career?

Being active in PCACAC has helped me learn more about not only the admission side of the desk, but also the high school counseling side. I’ve been able to interact with individuals who I may only get to see once or twice a year during a high school visit. I’ve been able to present on topics I’m passionate about which has led to the high school side calling on me for additional presentations/panels at their schools.

Being involved with PCACAC has provided me the opportunity to develop personal relationships with colleagues while sharing our expertise on topics we are passionate about.

Now that I’m located in Florida yet working for the University of Maryland-College Park, I hope to continue my involvement with PCACAC while also getting involved in the Southern Association for College Admission counseling (SACAC) and the Greater Atlanta Regional Network (GARN), where both of my travel territories are now.
List five adjectives that best describe you:
• Bilingual
• Dedicated
• Honest
• Blessed
• Dependable

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