A few weeks ago I headed up to New England to attend a series of summer college fairs at Brown University, Harvard University, and Phillips Academy - Andover. I have attended these fairs for four of the last five years, and once again my Mom actually accompanied me on the trip. I attend the college fairs while she walks around the towns (Providence, Cambridge, and Andover) looking for neat outfits and gifts for my niece and nephew (her grandchildren). These recruitment trips always tend to be the most memorable for me because I am with great company, the weather is nice, and the events are quite relaxed. This year's trip though will be eternally memorable to me for an incident that occurred near the end of the final event ... an incident that reconfirmed solidly in my mind why I love my profession and rejuvenated my passion for what I do.
Before the big reveal of this story, I think I need to provide a little bit of context. I love what I do, and I think anyone who reads this blog, follows me on Twitter, interacts with me on Facebook, meets me on the road, or connects with me on-campus would attest to the fact that I have a lot of passion for my profession. That passion sometimes can become a bit too much. A passionate person tends to take on more than the normal workload at times, and there can be a backlash. Yes, shockingly there are times when my job can frustrate me and I feel burnt out.
These emotions tend to materialize the most at the end of May when the admissions process is complete and the incoming class is sealed. Thankfully, that is the perfect time frame for an admissions person to take vacation ... and as my two month absence from blogging proved ... I love vacation time. Taking vacation though for me doesn't mean completely checking out, as I make sure to daily check and respond to email and keep up-to-date with my ongoing projects (i.e. communicating with the incoming freshmen through our Facebook group). But the summer is definitely a time when I have the chance to relax and the major stresses of the job can dissipate.
With that said, you all are now wondering what happened? ... ... ...
Near the end of the college fair at Phillips Academy - Andover, a very familiar-looking young lady and her mother stopped by my college fair table. As I greeted them I asked whether we have ever met before because she looked quite familiar. The young lady mentioned that yes we had met a few years ago at a college fair at Andover and that she was a rising junior at Hopkins. To add to that, I was the Admissions counselor who had read her application and was partially the reason why she chose to attend Hopkins upon being admitted. Her mother added that they are big fans of this Hopkins Insider blog and found it quite helpful in navigating the college search process. A smile immediately came across my face and I felt a sense of great pride, especially since my Mom was sitting right there to witness this encounter.
Things got even better though ... the student and her mom mentioned that they had seen the sign outside the gym at Andover that a college fair was going on and decided to stop by to personally see if I was at the fair representing Hopkins. They wanted to come by and say hello and say thanks. They just wanted to pass along their appreciation since I had been a great help to them a few years ago, and the student was loving her time at Hopkins. I was floored ... and near tears. I was able to remain composed, but when reflecting on this moment with my Mom as we returned to the rental car I really did get emotional.
I am about to celebrate my sixth year anniversary working at Hopkins at the end of August, and will enter my twelfth year working in college admissions. I can count on just one hand the number of memorable encounters like this, where someone took the time out to say "job well done." In my office I have two letters, one email, and one card that I keep in a folder for whenever I need a reaffirmation about why I love what I do. I will be printing out this blog entry and adding it to the folder. Unfortunately too often the feedback I get is negative or from a disgruntled student or parent -- I can count those encounters on multiple hands and feet.
What made this encounter even more special is how much the student has made out of her time at Hopkins (she is about to embark on an amazing study abroad experience - hopefully fodder for a great guest blog entry in the future). As well, it was amazing to see how much pride was in her Mom's eyes. My Mom and I spoke with them for about ten minutes and it was a complete joy. I do get to work with a great group of current Hopkins students through the Hopkins Interactive site and Student Admissions Advisory Board, but it is always so wonderful to witness a success story from one of the many applicants that I have admitted but not remained in contact with.
So now I sit in my office, with a rejuvenated spirit and love for my profession, and another moment to keep in the back of my mind to remind me why I love this world of college admissions. Just one final thing to say...
THANK YOU KIT AND THANK YOU MRS. HARRIS!!!