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The Pacer A Tribute to

Ben James

Rusty Shunk, Retired Member Past President, PACAC & NACAC

Dr. Benjamin D. James, a founder of PACAC and first Dean of Admissions at Dickinson College, passed away in July at the age of 102.

admissions counselors would advance the professionalism of the office through collaboration and cooperation in the context of friendly competition.

I first heard of Ben James when I was on the admission staff at Lafayette, I met him through a colleague when I served at Wilson who said he had much experience to share, and then got to know him as a friend when I joined the staff at Dickinson.

Ben once told me in a conversation regarding the roots of PACAC that after discussing concerns, particularly about college nights, he said to Mary Rose McWilliams of Cedar Crest College, “Let’s do this thing.” I am sure others were involved in the earliest stages, but readers of our history will know that Cedar Crest hosted the first Admissions Officers Invitational Conference in 1954. Secondary school counselors were added at the 1957 meeting at Penn State, and the Pennsylvania Chapter of NACAC was founded at the conference held at the Milton Hershey School in 1960.

Ben was the beloved “Mr. Dickinson” to generations of graduates—he admitted, coached, counseled, and taught many of them, and even after he retired they called on him to talk with their children and then their grandchildren about Dickinson. Sometimes history is lost on us in the busyness of what we do. But it is important to remember that admission counseling is a relatively new profession, born out of the registrar’s office. NACAC was founded by 13 Midwestern institutions in 1937. The post-WWII era would herald an unprecedented increase in college attendance thanks to the GI Bill. It was in this context that Ben was appointed the first dean of admissions at Dickinson. He and his generation of

Ben and others in that era were legends; they were the role models and mentors for the next generation of professionals. That age-old tradition continues today in individual institutional offices and through professional development offered by PACAC and NACAC. They set high standards for honest and honorable treatment of students in the process. Continued on page 15

WHAT’S INSIDE 2014–2015 Executive Committee 2 President’s Letter 3 My PACAC Story 4 The Ultra-Modern Differences of a 21st Century College 5 Book Review 6 Counselor’s Corner 8 PACAC Conference 2015 9 R.each Y.our F.ull P.otential 10 PACAC Summer Institute 2015 11 NACAC’s Emerging Admission Professionals Summer Institute 12 Camp College 13 PACAC Postings 14 Calendar 2015 15

2015 – 2016 Executive Committee Officers

Committee Chairs

President Misty Whelan Conestoga High School

Admission Practices Michael May Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Immediate Past President/ Chair of Governance & Nominating Ian Harkness Malvern Preparatory School

College Fairs Keo Oura Kounlavong-Sabath Harrisburg Academy

President-Elect Edwin Wright Lebanon Valley College

Communications Corinne Logan Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School

Chair of Finance & Budget Tim Gallen The Solebury School

Conference Planning Sarah Lasoff Cabrini College

Treasurer Dave Antoniewicz Widener University

Government Relations Melissa Boltz Conestoga High School

Treasurer-Elect Justin Mohney Carnegie Mellon University

Inclusion, Access, & Success Beth Davis Temple University

Directors Director of Marketing Justin Ledesma Villanova University

At-Large Delegates to the Executive Committee Jeremy Branch Penn State University – Brandywine Campus Krista Evans Lehigh University Cheryl Stewart-Miller LaRoche College Advisory Members to the Executive Committee Executive Assistant Andrea Cassell PACAC Conference Planning Chair Elect Ryan Gillon La Salle University

Membership Bryn Campbell Saint Joseph’s University Professional Development Stephanie Shandra MMI Preparatory School

Director of Public Advocacy Christina Wood Temple University Director of Professional Development Geoff Broome Capture Higher Ed

PACAC MISSION STATEMENT The Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling (PACAC) is a professional organization dedicated to advocating for equity and promoting access and success for postsecondary education. PACAC meets the diverse educational needs of school counselors and college admission processionals, students, families, and other constituents across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


The Pacer Staff Tom Camillo Michele Diehl Dr. Nicola DiFronzo-Heitzer Paula Dofat Edward Flaherty Hillen Grason Karen Graziano Mara Greiner Julie Hertz Corinne Logan Casey McVay Ryan Mignone Linda Miller Justin Mohney Loren Morgan Michelle O’Donnell Sally O’Rourke Alan Paynter Lauren Savage Debra Saylor Cheryl Stewart-Miller Matthew Swab Rebecca VanderMeulen Jory Wamsley Christina Wood Like Us on Facebook Like ‘Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling’ on Facebook to stay up-todate on PACAC news. Mailing The Pacer is a quarterly publication of PACAC. Please send any comments, corrections, and/or questions to: Corinne Logan Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School

President’s Letter

Welcome to Fall 2015 ... as I write this, the 90 degree temperatures have returned and I am thinking of other warm sunny places like NACAC in San Diego which happens in just a few short weeks. But here in Pennsylvania, the cool weather is bound to arrive and along with it my absolute favorite season of fall color. And with that comes fall travel, anxious seniors, and our attention and expertise on helping our students take that giant leap to becoming educated adults and global citizens. Our valiant efforts and hard work to get them from high school to college is extremely important and life changing work. It is so exciting that we get to do this every year with each rising senior class. Kudos to all of you for putting in the time with students, families, faculty, and administrators. This year, that giant leap hits home for me. I have become an empty nester for the first time. It is perhaps the perfect year to serve as President of PACAC — no time to think about the fact that 21 years has flown by — in the blink of an eye. It makes me ever so


grateful to the people in my children’s educational careers that stopped and took the time to get to know them. One admission counselor went out of her way to schedule a personal visit after a wait list offer was extended, rather than opt for the standard “don’t call us, we’ll call you” letter. Another faculty member answered every email promptly to my anxious and energetic daughter which truly helped to put her at ease throughout the process. These little things, even at large universities, when someone took the time to personalize the process made huge differences and ultimately helped them both to make the right choice. We all have institutional objectives and demands on our busy days, however, I believe that we must work that much harder to get around the fact that the most important interactions for seventeen and eighteen year olds are not quick and business-like, but are those that take time and effort to build authentic relationships no matter how large a school or university. In that light, it is the challenge of our team on the PACAC Executive Committee to go beyond the very busy days of life in our schools and reach out to school counselors from public high schools and admission counselors from public four-year and community colleges to increase their representation in the association. We want to build our public school (both high school and college) membership and participation in order to “Reach Higher” and make that direct connection for students from all walks of life—from central

and rural Pennsylvania to the inner cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. PACAC members are some of the most motivated and caring professionals I know and we should spread the word to get others involved. If you are not already involved, contact our office or me personally. Check out our website, come to a workshop, sign up for a webinar, and focus on the future of our profes­ sion and the lives of students who need our help to take the leap. Most impor­ tantly, take the time to get to know the students whom you work with and then join us to share your successes! Speaking of success –our association continues to do remarkable things—a fabulous Annual Conference in Seven Springs with author Wes Moore’s inspirational speech, our first ever Camp College this summer at Albright College, the largest ever Summer Institute at Bucknell University, huge College Fairs across the state, individual visits with state legislators both in Harrisburg an. Washington, DC to advocate for school counselors, and professional development delivered right to counselors offices by way of webinars. PACAC members are motivated professionals who have made the decision to get involved in our profession of college admission counseling. We will kick off 2015-2016 in Philly and Pittsburgh next week— check out the website for those kick off events at Cabrini College and La Roche College on September 9th and September 8th. Join us! Misty Whelan Conestoga High School

Hello PACAC Members! We are very excited to announce that this year we will begin to help students reach their goal of continuing education after high school by providing the first PACAC Scholarships. We will be providing three one-year non-renewable $1,000 scholarships for high school seniors graduating from PACAC member high schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The scholarships may be used at institutions both in and out of Pennsylvania. More information, the student application, and the guidance counselor forms can be found on our web page.

FALL 2015 • 3


Nicotra Cashes Out of Banking; Chooses Admissions Cheryl Stewart-Miller, LaRoche College

A long-term career in banking was not in the cards for Heather Nicotra. In 2012, after graduating from La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pa., with a double major in marketing and management, and two minors, Nicotra became a banker at a Pittsburgh financial institution handling customer accounts, ATM issues, wire transfers, and assorted transactions. It was not a career she could bank on long term as she wanted a career where she believed she could make a difference.

So, Nicotra, a native of Butler, Pa., reflected on what she enjoyed doing and recalled four years spent at her alma mater’s Admissions office, where she gave tours and worked with staff and the other work study students known as the Redhawk Recruiters. She inquired as to possible admissions job openings, and her timing was impeccable. Within a short time, she was a full-fledged freshman admissions officer recruiting prospective students to a campus—and a college experience—in the rolling North Hills of Pittsburgh that she loved. During fall travel season Heather can be found zigzagging among 14 counties in Pennsylvania and the college fairs and high schools that she manages in eastern Ohio. When she is not travelling or working with her student pool, Heather is organizing overnight visits, mentoring student ambassadors, brainstorming new ideas, inspiring co-workers and working on a future PACAC conference. Heather’s zeal for admissions is contagious, and she jumps on opportunities in the office to make the admissions process and programs positive for staff and students alike. From her first PACAC conference at Seven Springs in Champion, Pa., within


two months of her hire date, she was looking for ways to get involved. She talked with Conference Planning Committee members who encouraged her to become active. She jumped in, learned the ropes, and took off. At PACAC’s June 2015 conference, also at Seven Springs, she rounded up prize donations and paired like items to create appealing baskets for a raffle with Duquesne’s Dee Dawson and Washington & Jefferson’s Karen Gerardi. The raffle proceeds benefited the Gustafson Fund. “PACAC is great, and so is the Conference Planning Committee,” Says Nicotra. “It’s so easy to get involved. I have been able to meet a lot of fantastic people, plus use many of my organization and event-planning skills. Planning the raffles was creative and a lot of fun.. A highlight of the PACAC Conference for Nicotra was receiving the James McKeever Promising Professional Award, an honor established by PACAC’s executive board to recognize and encourage contributions made by secondary or post-secondary members early in their careers – less than three years of service in the profession. Outstanding job performance and

meaningful professional service beyond one’s own institution is key to being nominated for, and receiving, the award, which honors the memory of a young admissions professional who once served Mercyhurst College: James McKeever. Described as a “natural” by his management, McKeever was a “warm, gregarious, and outgoing” young man who chose to leave the high pay and perks offered in his corporate career and make admissions his profession….. and in that vein Nicotra is no different. She, too, is passionate about making a positive impact on young persons she advises and helps to make decisions with positive lifelong consequences. And, like McKeever, Nicotra cares, works hard and has a positive, upbeat attitude. Mike Goebel, senior enrollment advisor of Gannon University, nominated Nicotra to receive the award. Goebel received the McKeever award in 2012 and got to know Nicotra through the PACAC Conference Planning Committee, recruitment-related travel and PACCAO (Pennsylvania Association of Catholic College Admissions Counselors). Goebel says, “Heather has a blend of Continued on page 10


Does the American system of higher education have the most numerous descriptions for a student looking to pursue it? Trade School, Technical Programs, Community College, College, and University ... even this list does not nearly capture the endless variety of educational systems in the United States. We need to step outside of the boundaries that have determined the differences among various institutional types. To help provide clear focus on today’s higher education marketplace, here is a modern interpretation of what separates the College. To start, let’s look at another nation for some clarity. Do you know the difference between 学院 (Xueyuan) or 大学 (Daxue)? What is the particular distinction between these two types of Chinese institutions? Did you know there was one? We often package our understanding of higher education outside of the United States as one idea; when the media addresses information within the States, it is unpackaged and many of the unique parts of each institution are criticized. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough space to explore this point further but looking through these systems from a different angle can provide perspective. What we think are clear, concise definitions of college and university actually aren’t. There is no clear answer as to whether a college or 大学 (Daxue) can more properly prepare a student more than the other! As College Admission and Counseling professionals, we must continue to examine the nuances of each institution such as its role and the ability of these parts within its larger environment, because it is awfully critical to the success of each student we advise. First, the type of faculty interaction at an institution matters. This should be no surprise to most of us. I challenge you to meet a faculty member at a College you’ve never heard of. After reading a research brief, or their committee work, do you really have a good picture of who this person is? You most likely won’t. The ability for a

faculty member to create a meaningful connection cannot necessarily be found in the statistics you’re asking for. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask what the student to teacher ratio is; in fact, it’s a great conversation starter! But consider asking college professionals for an example or story of a shared faculty-student interaction that helped accomplish an objective. Is there too much reliance on technology for student/faculty interaction? Although technology is a beneficial tool, it’s much harder to learn the relational skills you need to manage relationships in graduate research, receive a promotion in the workplace, or defend your thesis. The type of symbolic gestures you’re hoping to feel as a student can be found on campus, in the classroom, not guided from behind another computer screen. These are all skills that employers and graduate admission committees want to know students possess. Effective institutions will prepare their students for this. Second, the flexibility to adjust institutional practices to meet students’ needs is more ingrained in campus culture to more effectively serve students. There is a great deal of student choice in today’s modern higher education institution. These choices range in category from athletics, academics, arts and intramural activities all to customize the student experience. But each institution is tasked with the challenge of finding unique ways

to remain committed to their values and balance it with their students’ wants and needs. College advising professionals should explore how higher education institutions are striking this balance of serving students yet providing an impacting and meaningful learning experience. The 21st century College is a learning organization. It seeks to experiment with new ideas as scientific and technology improvements continue to be made. In this same vein, it is as important for us to keep learning about our institutions of higher learning, as it is to work with students looking to learn themselves. We must chart the course together and elevate all of our attitudes towards respect in learning about the new opportunities colleges offer. Don’t ever stop asking questions of staff involved in this process of college selection. Show up prepared, organized, engage in conversation and be ready to learn. There is an abundant amount of information to learn with each student, each institution, and how each interaction of it all will affect the lives of those attending and working at a school. This season, I hope you learn something new about what makes an institution or a student you’re working with unique. I hope you’re provided information to share with others. I hope you take every opportunity to find out what College or 学院 (Daxue) means to you.

FALL 2015 • 5

Book Review: Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni Reviewed by Karen Graziano, Graziano Career Works, LLC & Adjunct Professor

From the dedication on, Frank Bruni’s Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania requires us—higher education professionals, admissions counselors, teachers, parents, and mentors—to reconsider how we’re framing the college admissions process. Dedicated to the “high school kids in this country who are dreading the crossroads of college admission and to all of the young adults who felt ravaged by it,” we’re called on to reexamine why being admitted to an elite school would serve “as the conclusive measurer of a young person’s worth, a binding verdict on the life that he or she has led up until that point, an uncontestable harbinger of the successes or disappointments to come.” And he asks us to discard these notions completely: “What madness. And what nonsense.” Then he provides us with evidence—a lot of evidence—in the form of successful professionals’ stories and statistics to back up his argument. He challenges our own thinking: those of us who balk at the rankings, while basking in the glow of someone’s ability to be admitted to a top school. First, he calls us to reimagine: Picture a young professional who has developed maturity and responsibility despite the mania. Meet Peter Hart, a student from a high school located in an affluent suburb, which boasts near perfect college attendance. Peter and his classmates’ future admission plans are mapped out. Peter didn’t compete for the top private universities that his classmates were attending and wasn’t admitted to the top public universities on his list. Bruni described Peter as “feeling neither defeated nor exhilarated” when he arrived at his large public university: “He was simply determined to make the most of the place and to begin plotting a career and planning an adult life.” Isn’t this what we want all students to do? Plan, develop, mature and succeed. How was he able to do achieve this, despite the mania? In his new surroundings, which didn’t include his high school “peers’ swagger and ready-made eloquence,” Peter told Bruni: “I really felt that I was a competent person.” This confidence enabled him to excel and take advantage of opportunities, which led him to earn a 3.95 GPA, be admitted to the honors program, be


elected vice president in his fraternity and start a real estate business. His next steps to a distinguished job at Boston Consulting Group and the Harvard University MBA program most would not predict. Although his classmates at Harvard were equipped with more prestigious degrees, Peter didn’t feel his education put him at a disadvantage. Peter had lived Bruni’s argument firsthand, acknowledging that “what they’d learned in the workplace since graduation had more bearing on their assurance and performance at Harvard than did anything picked up in any class, let alone the name of their alma mater.” As I began my 16th year teaching college courses, I was thinking about Peter’s assessment when I entered my literature class, populated with a majority of freshman students. After congratulating my students on achieving their goal to enroll at the University, I let them know—as I have throughout the years—“any future success is up to them.” They can, should and will use the University’s resources, but they are responsible for their own success. They

need to seize the day—for example, I told them, “If a club doesn’t exist that you’re interested in, create one.” Bruni sums it up perfectly: “There’s only so much living and learning that take place inside a lecture hall, a science lab or a dormitory. Education is indeed everything, but it happens across a spectrum of settings and in infinite ways.” As an educator in the classroom, I’ve had the privilege to educate students from across the spectrum of higher education—from community colleges to highly competitive universities. Again and again, I have found one truth: motivation is everything. Professors, staff members, fellow students, and alumni can help serve as those motivators, but we need to instill in our high school students that there’s no one right way to achieve success. Being in college—in any college program—is a privilege. Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce explained that college students need to reprioritize: they “should be thinking more about what they’re going to do

with their lives” rather than which college they’ll attend. As I consider his words, I am reminded of an idea that I’ve stressed to students: College is the path, not the destination. Remember, being able to find the answer at the end of the yellow brick road was a myth; the journey itself is what taught Dorothy her important lessons. To make his point, Bruni examines the college backgrounds of a powerful group of leaders: US Senators. The mania that instills an intense fear and frenzy that only attendance at specific elite colleges will lead to success didn’t impede these driven professionals from achieving one of the most coveted spots in our government representing us. “Of the 100 men and women in the United States Senate in mid-2014,” Bruni reports, “fewer than 30 got their college degrees in the Ivy League or in the slightly larger circle of schools widely deemed Ivy-caliber. Nearly 50 of them went to public and private colleges well below the top 25 in the sorts of conventional rankings to which so many Americans pay so much heed.” What does this mean? Well, first, those from less competitive schools were highly successful, and second, the mad and crazy love affair with elite schools is, well, really just in its honeymoon stage. Success doesn’t equal attendance at an elite college, rather the way a student leads his or her development through college—any college—is more of a predictor of future success. So, is the college admission process really an accurate filter of success and potential? Well, no, and we wouldn’t want it to be. We would be undermining the

Speakers Bureau

value of education itself if it was so. The college admissions process is a selection process, like the future employment process will be, with different qualities valued.

and being forced to stand on his own two feet in it.” Moving from Brooklyn to Northern Michigan was a tremendous adjustment—and that’s why Schultz grew from the experience.

The “fervor that translates into perfect, painstakingly constructed high school resumes and, in turn, a surfeit of overachieving students in the hunt,” needs to be replaced. In the chapter “Obsessives at the Gate,” anxiety is high as parents compete to get their children into kindergartens with price tags higher than public universities. How did this happen when many successful professionals would describe their own college choices as growing out of their personal situations? Why is it a “battle” with today’s high school students serving as emotionally unprepared warriors? In describing the college rankings system, Marilee Jones, the former admissions dean for MIT stated: “We’re a bunch of lemmings. There is no best. There is no best.” Bruni is telling all of us to help this generation of award-laden students to put away the rewards and focus on the experience. Look for challenge, not just status. When selecting a college, Howard Schultz, the chairman, president, and chief executive at Starbucks, did just that. Rather than attend college in the Northeast, which would have been comfortable, he attended Northern Michigan University. Regularly told “I’ve never met anyone who’s Jewish,” Howard, who had been recruited for football, but was injured, explained that “what mattered most about college was that he ‘came of age’ there, getting a glimpse of a world far beyond Brooklyn

Here’s our assignment this fall: Let’s reconsider, reframe, and reimagine the way that we talk about the college experience. “Now more than ever, college needs to be an expansive adventure, propelling students toward unplumbed territory and untested identities rather than indulging and glittering who they already are,” asserts Bruni. Let’s make our primary message what Condoleezza Rice stated about education: “I think there’s a conceit, a myth, that up can go and sit in a university and things will come to you. They don’t. You have to go to them.” Tell students that specific actions in college will make their lives better: Having a faculty member as a mentor and having an internship or job that applied what they learned in the classroom leads to more satisfying lives. Bruni’s book does more than chide society on its role in instilling our high school students with anxiety: It’s a call to action. Treating that large admission letter as a determinant of happiness and success is a disservice for our students. College, while wonderful and magical, is a place in time, while the student himself or herself is the traveler. Let’s focus on that traveler. Every counselor, consultant, parent, and applicant should read Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be. If we want confident students, we need to start sharing the right messages. Let’s begin with: Who You’ll Be is Up to You.

Hello PACAC! We are excited to announce a new resource made available to PACAC Members — the PACAC’s Speakers Bureau. If your office is planning an admission workshop or an in-service day and need a speaker to address a topic, check out our listing on the PACAC web page. You can search the listings based on keywords. Once again, please note that this is a web page you can only access as a PACAC member. You will need to login with your user ID and password to access the page.

FALL 2015 • 7

COUNSELOR’S CORNER Courtney Pinto, Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School

In recent weeks, my in-box has been filling up with good-bye messages from colleagues on the college side. This is the time of year when people announce their departure from college admissions, when the directors reassess the needs of their offices by changing territories or when the members looking to stay in the profession pursue an opportunity elsewhere. Regardless of the reason, the farewell emails are all relatively the same. The person acknowledges that it has been a pleasure working with me, wishes me luck in the coming year and offers an email contact for the new person Courtney Pinto assigned to take over. Some messages come from trusted friends with whom I have developed a strong working relationship, but others come from people I may have met only once, or sometimes never at all. Either way, I hear a sigh of frustration come out of me as I type off a quick response of well wishes or simply move on to the next email without responding. It’s starting to feel like beginning the school year with a new cadre of admissions professionals has become the norm. I’d like to think that the college counseling office at my school is as welcoming as we can be. Every scheduled appointment is covered by a counselor. We have water, snacks and clean bathrooms for the weary travelers. We make students sign up for the session ahead of time and have a room reserved for individual colleges. My colleagues and I dutifully take turns keeping notes on the sessions and are intentional in sharing updates with each other. The information I have gained from these one-on-one conversations with admissions representatives is invaluable. I can think of situations where I learned of a unique scholarship opportunity that seemed designed with a particular student in mind, of new academic offerings that filled a specific need for another student, and of cultural happenings on campus that can never be summed up in a brochure. Sessions like these are the rewarding ones and the reasons my office continues to make covering them a top priority. Unfortunately, though, with a greener set of admissions counselors, I often feel like I’m the one leading the conversations and the good nuggets of


information aren’t passed on as well as they could be. With that in mind, I’d like to offer some advice for any admissions professionals who are about to hit the road for their first time. • Try to make a basic human connection with the students before you launch into anything college related. If you are lucky enough to be in a room with five high school students, take advantage of the situation. You are the adult and you are the one in charge of the room. Don’t let students sit there and stare at you without speaking. Ask them their names and have them share something about themselves. Ask questions about their high school and listen to their answers –their responses could be very telling for you. Find out what shows they watched that week or how much time they spent on homework the night before. Anything is fair game to help the conversation get going! • College brochures are the quickest way to end a visit. If you pass them out at the beginning of a session, students will then fiddle with them

and turn through the pages instead of listening to you. Save them for the end. • Find out how many students have visited campus before you begin speaking. Your visit should be a supplement to the information session on campus, not a repeat. Help the students learn the intangibles of your college that can’t be found on a website or condensed into quick facts. • Remember that students (and high school counselors) attend a good amount of college presentations in a very short amount of time. Stats blend together and it can be hard to distinguish one school from another. If you only talk about one thing, make it be the 5% that makes your college unique. Be proud of this and talk about it in a way that we’ll remember.

PACAC Conference 2015 Michelle O’Donnell, Mount St. Mary’s University

Michelle O’Donnell

The 52nd annual PACAC Conference was held June 21-23, 2015, at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion, PA. The theme was “Back to Basics: Lighting the Fire.” Led by Sarah Smith and Conference Planning Committee, the three-day conference included conference traditions like the 5K run/walk, first timers welcome event, opening reception and dinner, School Spirit Day, standing committee and exhibitors fair, Gustafson Award Dinner, and numerous sessions on a variety of topics. This year’s conference also encouraged attendees to engage more with PACAC and conference attendees through social media with #PACAC2015 and a “Meet and Tweet Challenge” via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

For many, one of the highlights of the conference was the Kick-Off and Keynote Speakers. Darryl Jones from Gettysburg College started PACAC Conference with an interactive discussion about clubs versus professional development organizations. This conversation helped set the tone for the conference and remind attendees about the importance of inclusion, especially in higher education. The Keynote speaker was Wes Moore, an author, advocate, Army combat veteran, social entrepreneur, and host of Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network. A dynamic, engaging, and passionate speaker, Moore shared personal stories and also answered questions from PACAC attendees. Each conference attendee also received a copy of his book. PACAC Conference gives counseling colleagues an annual opportunity to reconnect with one another, meet new colleagues, and discuss practices, policies, and political actions affecting higher education and students’ college searches. Mark your calendars for the 53rd annual conference coming up on June 26-28, 2016, at The Hershey Lodge. Information will be updated throughout the year on the PACAC website.

Clockwise from above: Immediate Past President, Ian Harkness, and Current President, Misty Whelan, Kick-Off Speaker Darryl Jones, Keynote Speaker Wes Moore

FALL 2015 • 9

R.each Y.our F.ull P.otential Corinne Logan, Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School

As we gear up for the school year and fall travel season, I’d like to encourage you to help others RYFP by leading by example. We are some of the first professionals young adults interact with—other than family members, teachers, counselors—we have an unspoken responsibility to lead by example. In far superior words, we have this extraordinary opportunity to lead by example. Corinne Logan

We have the unique position to not just discuss classes and education, but hopes, dreams, financial troubles, inter­‑ests, hobbies, favorite foods. Our jobs, whether you are a counselor or in admissions, are incredibly unique. We are part advisor, part counselor, part teacher, yet also educators, leaders, liaisons, and friends. Conversations in my office cover everything from studying techniques to family hardships to heated arguments over favorite sports teams. We are the higher education version of Gladiators in Suits; we just aren’t paid enough to have Oliva Pope’s wardrobe. So while you’re interviewing, counseling, traveling, recruiting,

my pacac story continued from page 4

personality and curiosity that matches her well for the admission and counseling fields. She has a sense of fun that draws people in and a professional tone that informs colleagues, parents, and potential students of their possibilities. She engages and encourages other admissions counselors in social situations and is a genuinely positive spirit in conversations about the admissions profession.” Heather’s supervisor Terry Kizina, director of freshman admissions at La


evaluating, or just plain connecting with a student much in need of a connection, please use your important role to not just make the class or improve your matriculation graphic for the school profile, but to also influence students to reach their full potential beyond their educational path. Encourage them to eat a better breakfast, say “hi” to more classmates in the hallway, organize a folder, meditate, do yoga…don’t be afraid to offer advice beyond college fit or majors. Here at the Prep, we begin each year with a faculty & staff mass the day before students return. The homily this year told a service trip story in which the Father became “the juice man” at

Roche College, also nominated Heather to receive the recognition. He says, “Heather is always willing to go the extra mile for the prospective students she advises. She is enthusiastic about helping others with their duties, such as covering appointments for other counselors in the office. She balances her work very successfully and yet has time to be involved with professional development, too.” Nicotra said she was deeply honored to be recognized by her peers, and it confirmed for her that she is going in the right direction professionally. She

a soup kitchen. He was called “Juice” and “Juice Man” as he raced from end to end giving the patrons what they needed, becoming that role they had created for him. The Father’s message was: isn’t that what we should do each day, each year when working with our students? Become the role they need—be it an educator, a counselor, a listening ear, a confidant… become that adult from whom they learn, grow, and succeed. This Fall, I encourage you to boldly lead others to their full potential by realizing, recognizing, and embracing your own.

strongly encourages all PACAC members to get involved as she has. “I find it personally rewarding. If members want to get involved, they can do as much or as little as they want. With Conference Planning, there is so much to be done; all one needs to do is contact anyone on the committee, and just get started. We’ll make you feel welcome,” says Nicotra, adding her trademark: “For sure!”

PACAC Summer Institute 2015 Michelle O’Donnell, Mount St. Mary’s University

In mid-July, over 70 participants attended the annual PACAC Summer Institute at Bucknell University, a program specially designed for professionals new to the admission field. The 2015 PACAC Summer Institute was the 38th year the program has been offered; it is the longest continuously-running summer professional development opportunity for new admissions and secondary school counselors in the nation. Michelle O’Donnell

The group was led by Dr. Bill Stahler (Berks Catholic High School), Dean; and Geoff Broome (Capture), Director; ten faculty members; and two interns representing Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York schools on the college and secondary side. Over three days, sessions were offered about topics including changing demographics, the admissions funnel, counseling for a good match, applying to college in the technological age, the admissions packet, road warriors, working with special populations (transfers, first generation, wait list, and others), and career-focused break-out sessions. Additionally, participants experienced a mock admission selection committee activity, where they were challenged to review faux application files and make the decision whether to accept, wait list, or deny the student. Different and unexpected political, athletic, advancement, and alumni scenarios were also included so that participants learned that some decisions are not solely based on grades, scores, and materials in the file. At the end of Summer Institute, each small group shared their decisions, and also discovered where and why the faux applicants selected a specific college. Several members of the planning team concluded their terms with Summer Institute this year. The application for new faculty members and intern positions will be available later this

fall. The Summer Institute will also include new leadership with Josh Ditsky (Berks Catholic High School) serving as Dean, and Jeremy Branch (Penn State Brandywine) taking over the Director position. Comments from attendees: • Because I am a college counselor, I thought the best part of the Institute was seeing what the school counselors went through on a daily basis and how we could assist them best with their high school students.

• Awesome staff! So friendly! I also feel that some of the sessions were FANTASTIC for newcomers, especially those who had not yet started. • It gave me the chance to objectively look at practices and think about how I can be better and provide a better service to the students, families, and school counselors that I work with. Honestly, it was awesome. If the opportunity presented itself, I would definitely go again.

“PACAC summer institute was an incredible introduction to the world of admissions. Before you even begin your tenure as a professional in the field you get introduced to counselors like yourself, counterparts that you will work with on a daily basis, as well as receive guidance from professionals who have been in the filed in multiple capacities for a number of years. I think anyone who is beginning a career in admissions should attend this event. It really helps you to understand what we do, why we do it and how to be successful in the field.” — Hershel Waites, Admissions Counselor, Mount St. Mary’s University

“PACAC was a great opportunity as a new admissions counselor to not only learn about the field, but to make connections with fellow counselors. Through the sessions, games, presentations, and activities, I developed a confident disposition and now feel better prepared for this upcoming year. I would recommend Summer Institute for all new counselors, because you take away so much, and it only helps you grow in your career.” — Katie Sukeena, Admissions Counselor, Mount St. Mary’s University

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NACAC’s Emerging Admission Professionals Summer Institute Valerie Martin, Gettysburg College

In May I represented PACAC in Washington, D.C., at NACAC’s first-ever Emerging Admission Professionals Summer Institute. This program is designed for admission professionals with between three and five years of experience in the field, and who are active in regional ACAC organizations. Admission offices see high turnover among professionals with this amount of experience, so NACAC designed the conference to paint a larger picture of why we all do what we do. The idea is to have more emerging professionals make admission a profession and career, not just a job. One member from each ACAC was selected for the Emerging Professionals Summer Institute. So 23 of us from around the United States descended on Washington for three days to learn more about higher-level efforts to increase student’s access to college. We spent time on Capitol Hill, hearing from both houses of Congress on the progress of several key issues in higher education. The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act was of particular interest. We then divided into four groups, each focusing on a specific issue: Access and Success, Advocacy, Financial Aid, and Supporting Diversity. I was placed in the Financial Aid group. We focused on the financial barriers students face when applying to, attending and graduating from college. We met with the Department of Education’s Office

of Federal Student Aid, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. We covered hot-button topics such as forprofit colleges, responsible borrowing laws, Perkins Loans and Pell Grants, preventing default on loan repayment, simplifying the FAFSA, and rethinking the calculation of students’ expected family contributions. We ended the program by reporting back to one another about what each of our groups did. All of us left our meetings with a fiery passion for the admission profession and the subjects we learned more about. I cannot stress enough how incredible of an experience this program was. We met with policymakers who are fighting for laws that could change the way we

do our jobs and the way students access education. And they were just as excited to meet with us and hear our opinions. It was utterly exhilarating to be in the middle of all that is going on in higher education right now! I left feeling like I had made a difference and that I could continue to make a difference. I also felt significant pride of being an admission professional. We are doing important work day in and day out, and we must continue to do it. Access to and through higher education has the power to change lives. We are in the business of providing that access. I can only hope that every new admission professional has the opportunity to participate in a program like this. It has truly opened my eyes to the deeper and more important reasons why I do what I do, and it has made me into a lifelong admission professional.

Greetings PACAC Members! Similar to last year, we want

PACAC Social Media

Photo Contest


to add to our collection of photographs of our members’ offices. We are asking you to once again submit a photo of your office to be included as part of our PACAC web page. You can see past submissions on the web page now. We will award one high school and one college a free registration to our annual conference for the best photo. Photos will be judged based on uniqueness and school spirit. So we encourage you to photograph in front of unique landmarks or perhaps in front of your school sign. You can submit a photo until March 1, 2016 to We look forward to receiving your photos!

camp college 2015 Loren Morgan, Central Catholic High School

“We wish the program was longer…”

“I want to come back next year!”

Judging by these refrains, which we heard over and over again as mentors and directors, the first annual PACAC Camp College was a huge success. Forty-seven juniors and seniors from thirty-three high schools traveled to Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania and enjoyed three days of informational workshops, inspiring stories, encouraging words, and bonding with both peers and mentors. Students came from urban, suburban, and rural high schools of many different sizes and types, connected by the common theme of a desire to gain more information about the college process. Similarly, the volunteer directors and mentors traveled from many different

“That session was really helpful…” “I don’t want to leave!”

institutions on both the college and high school sides of the desk, united by a desire to share their knowledge with underserved students. As mentor Emanuel (Manny) Chacon explains, “I did not have the knowledge I wish I had when applying to colleges. Now that I do, I find it extremely gratifying that I can offer it to students who share a similar background or upbringing as myself.. Many mentors also found it to be a renewing experience that built excitement for a new school year or recruiting season; it was a great reminder of why we all work to help students find success after high school. The busy program included a scavenger hunt, sessions on how to find a

good fit, how to search for colleges, the application process, college essay writing, financial aid, a student panel, and to culminate the experience, a college fair and graduation ceremony. On the social side, campers enjoyed a pizza and ice cream gathering, an energizing capoeira lesson (thanks, Manny!) and a dance party on their final night. Campers stayed in residence halls, ate in the campus dining hall, and experienced college classrooms. Many students confessed to being nervous about their first time away from home, but ultimately found the experience to be reassuring; they felt more confident about navigating a college campus in the future. After experiencing similar programs hosted by other state associations, Beth Davis, Melanie Egan, and Dana Martin, campaigned to start Camp College in Pennsylvania, knowing that a definite need existed in our communities. PACAC Camp College 2015 was the first of Continued on page 15

Camp College mentors

“Camp college was for me an opportunity to make an impact

(below) Camp College attendees

on at least one student’s life. I saw, in many students, a younger version of myself. Lost, confused, and extremely eager for the future, the students that attended Camp College wanted to be there and that made all the difference.” — Darrell Marrow, Camp College mentor

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pacac Postings FALL 2015 New Hires Allegheny College has hired Andrew McMillen as Associate Director of Admissions and Transfer Admissions Coordinator. At Chatham University, three new people have joined as Undergraduate Admissions Counselors: Chelsea Siar, Brian Dwyer and Alyssa Wyvratt. In addition, Melanie Jo (MJ) Wrobleski has joined Chatham as the Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions for the master’s degree in occupational therapy and doctorate of physical therapy programs. Susan Cazillo is a new Admissions Counselor/Recruiter for Adult Education at Lancaster County Career and Technology Center. Lycoming College welcomes Edward “Ned” Barnes as an Admissions Counselor. Ned, from Skaneateles, N.Y., graduated from John Carroll University this past May. Ned’s territory includes Delaware and greater Philadelphia. Pennsylvania College of Art & Design has hired Emily Adleblute as an Admission Counselor. Saint Joseph’s University welcomes Kate Murphy as an Admissions Counselor. Murphy, a graduate of Loyola University of Maryland, spent two years in admissions at Loyola before joining Saint Joe’s.

At Washington and Jefferson University, new hires include Robert J. Gould, Vice President for Enrollment; Hannah Aloia ’15, Visitor Services Coordinator; Alexandra Sossi ’13, Assistant Director of Admission; and Erin McGarry, Assistant Director of Admission.

PROMOtIONs At Allegheny College, Darnell Epps was promoted to Senior Assistant Director of Admissions. Bucknell University announces four promotions: Marylyn Scott to Senior Associate Dean of Admissions; Barbara Cassels and Chrissy Findlay, both to Associate Dean of Admissions; and Ben Kavanaugh to Associate Director of Admissions. Rebecca Adey has been promoted to Assistant Director of Admission at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design. Cory Zahradnik was promoted to Director of Admission operations at Washington and Jefferson University. Also at W&J, Amy Dille was promoted to Associate Director of Admission, and Robert Adkins to Dean of Admission.

After eight years in the college guidance office at Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pa., Ethan Lewis has moved to Richmond, Va. where he is working with Method Test Prep. Method Test Prep provides personalized online and teacher-lead SAT, ACT and PSAT test prep solutions to help students score at their highest potential. Brian O’Doherty has departed Immaculata University to join Temple University as Manager of Enrollment Management in the College of Public Health.

BIRTHS Sage Rose Pitcher was born on August weighing 8 pounds, 15 ounces and measuring 21 inches. Sage is the daughter of Samantha Pitcher, Assistant Director of Admissions at Lehigh University, and her husband, Bill.

weddings Stephanie Shandra Sweietnicki, College Admissions Counselor at MMI Preparatory School, married Frank Swietnicki on June 20, 2015 in Scranton, Pa. They honeymooned in Hawaii.

CAREER & POSITION CHANGES Russell Althouse, formerly of admissions at Bucknell University, joined The Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison, N.J. in July as the Associate Director of College Counseling. Russ serves on the PACAC ad-hoc committee on technology interface and can be reached at or 908-754-1882, ext. 181.

Correction: In the last issue of The Pacer’s postings, Albright College was incorrectly referred to as a university. The staff of The Pacer regrets this error.


what will hopefully be an annual event, with plans for 2017 even including a Camp College East and West, in an effort to bring the service to underserved students in Western Pennsylvania as well as Eastern Pennsylvania. “From the first stages of planning to the graduation ceremony at Camp College 2015, it felt like a dream coming true. Bringing Camp College to PA and executing the first year was an honor,” Davis shares. Applications for Camp College 2016 will become available in Spring 2016; if you work with students whom you believe would benefit from attending the program, keep an eye on your email for updates. In addition, if you are interested in serving as a mentor, these applications will be released at the same time. As Deneen Brown notes, “It was a magical few days that every counselor should experience. The students were fun-loving and eager to learn. I look forward to being a part of this again. Thanks to our presenters: Justin Ledesma, Villanova University; Mary Wilkes Smith, Gettysburg College Thanks to our Directors: Beth Davis, Temple University; Melanie Egan, Villanova University; Dana Martin, Mastery Charter High School Thanks to our Mentors: Deneen Brown, Villanova University; Emanuel Chacon, Cabrini College; Ryan Coffey Keaton, Abington Friends School; Ryan James, Hood College; Darrell Marrow, Saint Joseph’s University; Wayne Modeste, West Chester University; Loren Morgan, Central Catholic High School; Kim Murdock, Goucher College; Sandra Vasquez, Cabrini College; Justine Walter, Pennsbury High School


Ben’s admonition to “… always remem­ ber the students” is wise counsel for the ages.

of the Department simultaneously. My fellow admissions officers never again complained about having only one job.. Earlier in his career he had also coached football, track, and basketball.

One of my favorite anecdotes about Ben illustrates the multitasking—or perhaps multi-jobbing—on campuses before admission counseling became all-consuming. This comes from the text of his honorary degree citation at Dickinson in 2006. “It was a cold, gray day in March thirty years ago when three of us were in the admissions building reviewing candidates. My colleagues were grumbling about having to read all those files and still conduct interviews as well. This had gone on for some minutes when Professor Ben James walked up the steps and into the room. I introduced them, and, totally unprompted, he told them about when he was Dean of Admissions, Dean of the Freshman Class, Professor of Psychology and Education, and Chair

Then, after over 15 years of service in admission, Ben was asked by the president to be Dickinson’s first Dean of Students, while continuing his faculty role as Professor of Psychology and Education. As a testament to his integrity and the respect in which he was held by the community, Ben chaired the School-Town Committee to integrate the local schools. He was also instrumental in developing the curriculum for Harrisburg Area Community College and co-chaired a state-wide employment security committee under Governor Dick Thornburg. Through these tasks and other service, he had a very positive impact on Carlisle, Cumberland County, Central Pennsylvania, and the Commonwealth.

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camp college

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8th – Kick Off Event – West 9th – Kick Off Event – East 9th – Hershey Area Regional College Fair 18th – College Counseling 101 Workshop: South Central PA 22nd – Northwest Regional College Fair


1st – Delaware Regional College Fair 1st-3rd – NACAC 71st National Conference 6th – Lehigh Regional College Fair 7th – Montgomery County Regional College Fair 8th – Bucks County Regional College Fair 13th – Northampton Regional College Fair 19th – York Regional College Fair 26th – Berks Regional College Fair


8th | Philadelphia National College Fair 23rd | College Counseling 101 Workshop: Northeastern PA For more information on events please visit and check the ‘Upcoming Events’ section. He was a humble man and in conversa­ tion would not let you dwell on his accomplishments. On the other hand, with a big smile he would let you know he was on the Dickinson football team in 1931 that defeated Penn State by a score of 10 to 6. With a deep sense of gratitude for his vision, leadership, and professionalism, PACAC salutes Ben James, one of its founders.

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Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling P.O. Box 859 Enola, PA 17025

government relations news corner David DeBor, Washington and Jefferson College

Having concluded a successful year, which included the introduction of an enhanced Legislative Action Day in Harrisburg, the Government Relations Committee is comprised of a new leadership team to improve communications to the membership, develop more robust programming, and monitor legislative progress on issues pertaining to college access and readiness. The Government Relations Committee now has three subcommittees, all under the guidance of Chairperson Melissa Boltz (Conestoga High School): • Dave DeBor (Washington and Jefferson College) – Communications and Social Media Subcommittee • Caitlin Copus (Central Penn College) – Programs Subcommittee

• Lance Marshall (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)– Legislative Subcommittee This year, the Government Relations Committee will be holding its annual signature event, College Access Forum and Legislative Action Day in late Spring to have impactful conversations with members of the state legislature as they debate the state budget. We will have an official announcement of the date in early winter and encourage all

members to follow @PACACGRC and @NACACWonk on Twitter to stay informed with higher education and Pennsylvania legislative updates. If you are interested in joining the Government Relations Committee, please email Melissa Boltz at and specify which committee you would like to join.

PACER Fall 2015 Issue  

Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling

PACER Fall 2015 Issue  

Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling