My History with SACAC

Morgan Fowler, Senior Admissions Counselor, High Point University

Tell us about your journey in the field of education and as an admissions/counseling professional. What are you most proud of accomplishing?

The first time I went to visit my college counselor at my northern Florida public school, she took a look at my transcript, took a look at me, and said, “So Florida State, UF, Howard, maybe Spelman?” I immediately informed her that I would be applying to FSU as my back up, but the others did not have a place on my list. I don’t remember the rest of that day’s meeting. But, I remember the next one. My college counselor made a point to speak to a teacher and coach that I was really close to. From those conversations, she began a conversation with me about liberal arts colleges. Inevitably, she helped me find my dream school.

My college process, as a whole, was so different from my parents’. They were student-athletes; they knew the universities they were attending with little hassle. That wasn’t the case for me, and they were very aware of that. They made a point to help me as much as they could without really knowing what the process entailed. Those two situations, separate but still connected, are why I was drawn to the admissions role.

I want to show my Florida students that they have amazing opportunities outside of the substantial Florida public school system. I want to assist families through their student’s college decision process, a process that can be stressful and ever-changing, with knowledge, support, and transparency. I want to help students find the institution that makes them feel the way I felt the moment I stepped on the University of Tampa’s campus.

Right now, my proudest accomplishment at High Point University is still happening. It is being able to play a lead role in intentional multicultural recruitment. In the past year, we have developed a Diversity Recruitment Board, begun a Diversity Mentorship Program, and created a brochure on Diversity and Inclusion at High Point University. Within all of this progression, the one constant is making sure students from historically underrepresented communities feel seen and heard and understood. These spaces we have created are doing that, and that’s the best thing we could ask for!

What would you like SACAC members to know about ways in which they can better serve their students and support their colleagues?

I believe the way we can better serve our students is the same way that we can better support our colleagues. It all comes from you.

Create a safe space, have conversations, and listen to what is being said. A safe space is incredibly important to any conversation, but especially those that may be emotionally charged or about a particularly laborious subject. Speaking from personal experience, I can have a conversation on the same topic in any space, but they will be different conversations. One will involve depth, communication, and feeling; the other will involve a tamed tone, a straight spine, and withholding. That’s why listening is so important. Listening, not just hearing. When you listen to someone, you take in the information provided. By doing that and adapting, you can create a safe space from an uncomfortable one. Then, you develop real communication with both students and colleagues.

Continue to educate yourself, and digest the information. We are constantly learning, as individuals, as a people, as an institution, as a country. Without additional knowledge, there is no progress. I believe that whenever anyone feels as if they “know enough,” they constrain themselves. Read. Have the difficult conversations. Listen to the bold podcasts. Watch the uncomfortable documentaries. And, I’m not talking about the true crimes documentaries on Netflix that are the kind of uncomfortable that sends a shiver up your spine. I’m talking about the uncomfortable that makes you want to crawl into yourself, that can cause a visceral reaction. It took me months to watch I Am Not Your Negro. It took me months to watch 13th. It took me months to watch When They See Us. But after watching each one, I knew I was better for it. I had more answers and more questions. I was reminded what was done and what was given for me and others like me to be where we are now. I was reminded why I speak up and push the way I do, so that my students and colleagues know they have an ally or an accomplice whenever they need one.

Be consistent. There is so much going on in the world. Black Lives Matter took center-stage for a moment as the pandemic had us all cooped up with nowhere to go and nothing to do but be active on social media. This led to an overall higher acknowledgment of America’s historically underrepresented and historically underserved communities. As the country tries to return to normalcy, the blind eyes are returning as well. That’s why consistency is so important.

Performative allies of both students and colleagues are engaging less, on social media and in-person. We see it; we feel it. But we also feel the continued affirmation and support of those who are truly with us. And we greatly appreciate it. I am by no means saying that connections need to be made every single day. But when a student comes to speak with you about a situation that you may not fully understand, make a point to validate their feelings because they matter. When a colleague has been holed up in their office the day after an unarmed person is shot, make a point to reach out and acknowledge that situations like that are not normal.

We realize this has been a trying year for us all, particularly those of us who are members of the BIPOC community. What continues to affirm your passion for your work and the students you serve?

I think my lived experiences and the students and families I am lucky enough to work with have and will always be my driving force in this work. I was born in Atlanta, GA. The Black Mecca, if you will. To begin my education, my parents made a choice to send me to Hopewell Christian Academy, an all-black private Christian school that was 45 minutes away from our home. Beauty Baldwin was my first principal. (If you don’t know who she is, look her up!) She and the Academy made sure that I knew one thing: I am Black excellence!

When we moved to Tallahassee, FL, I experienced being the only one in a space for the first time. My Blackness was questioned by my brown peers because I spoke the Queen’s English and had never seen Friday. My Blackness was questioned by my white peers also because I spoke the Queen’s English and had seen all the Mary-Kate and Ashley movies. After hearing it so much, I questioned it as well. And, it took me longer than I care to admit to get back to acknowledging that I am Black excellence.

I do not ever want my students to feel that way, to question themselves in that way. I want them to know that who they are is more than enough. I want them to be seen and heard in every space that they occupy. To understand that their ethnic background or religious belief or socioeconomic status matters. That their lived experiences are important. That how they identify should be respected. That if someone pronounces their name wrong, they should correct them every single time. I want to help in creating inclusive environments where they always feel like they are enough and always feel that they belong.

Celebrating HBCU Excellence!

Jameia Tennie (pronouns: she/her), Director, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, North Carolina A&T State University

The pursuit of post-secondary education continues to open the door to endless possibilities for students across the globe.  Each year, SACAC professionals are privileged to support students as they make these important collegiate decisions.  Choosing to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) is one of the best decisions that I have made!  That decision for myself and so many other HBCU alumni has charted the path for us to display our greatness across multiple industries.  As a two-time HBCU graduate (Hampton University & North Carolina A&T State University), I am proud to champion the celebration and continued success of HBCUs.

Since the 19th century, HBCUs have been established to provide education and training for students primarily of African descent. Eighty-nine percent of HBCUs are located in the southern region of the United States, providing service to student populations ranging from 300 to over 12,000.  These diverse classified institutions provide academic excellence in STEM, agriculture, business, education, law and liberal arts.  The family atmosphere, legacy significance and school spirit shape each institution in a unique way.  Through internships, academic engagement and service opportunities, HBCU students gain a multi-faceted educational experience that prepares them for the global workforce.  These experiences allow graduates to go on to blaze trails in their respective industries.  They journey on to become app inventors, astronauts, CEOs of fortune 500 companies, doctors, educators, engineers, lawyers, or even the first Black and South Asian woman to serve the United States of America as Vice President.  HBCUs continue their commitment to developing the next generation of leaders.

Keep shining HBCU family!

SACAC Note:

Please make sure to register for the next webinar in our Spring Series, “Highlighting the Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” which will occur, Thursday, February 18th @ 11:30 AM CT/12:30 PM ET.

Historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, are a beacon of hope in Black and Brown communities. Whether it be their illustrious history, cutting-edge majors and programs, or notable alumni, HBCUs transcend cultural divides to unite communities through education and access. Join us as we celebrate Black History Month to learn about their impact on higher education and our society at large, what differentiates them from predominantly white institutions or PWIs, and how to educate your students and staff on their efficacy.

Panelists:

Bryan Cooper – Associate Director of Admission, Xavier University of Louisiana
Jarred Honora – Dean of Alumni Relations, Crescent City Schools
Sydney Dowd-Smith – Associate Director of Admission, North Carolina A&T State University
Sandria Mason – Admissions Recruiter, Savannah State University
TJ Snowden, Ed. D. – Director of Admissions & Recruitment, Morehouse College

Register for the webinar

 

The Potential of a Promise

Andrew Colson, Admissions Counselor & Program Manager of the UAB Birmingham Promise, The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

What is the Birmingham Promise and why does it matter?

When the Birmingham Promise Scholarship was first announced by the city of Birmingham, Alabama, in the fall of 2019, I was equally surprised and excited.  My surprise was due to the generosity of the scholarship: up to 4 years of tuition fully covered (after accounting for grants/merit-scholarships), applicable to any public 2- or 4-year college or university in Alabama, transferable between community colleges and universities.

My excitement stemmed from the realization of how many doors would now be open to graduates of the Birmingham City School system.  One of the key factors that contributes to any student’s college decision when determining best fit is affordability.  As we all know, the average tuition cost of an undergraduate degree program has gone up consistently in the past few decades, while the need for an undergraduate degree within our economy has increased along a similar pace.  The Birmingham City School system serves over 23,000 students, many of whom come from lower-middle class and impoverished households.  For many of these students, the cost of college is the primary barrier between them and obtaining an undergraduate degree.  With the introduction of the Birmingham Promise Scholarship, that financial barrier was greatly reduced and many of these students now have access to higher education opportunities that may otherwise be unattainable.

Taking it one step further — The UAB Birmingham Promise

In early 2020, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) became the first official academic partner school of the Birmingham Promise Scholarship, pledging a one-to-one match of the tuition scholarship for each student. However, UAB decided that its contributions to this cohort of students would not stop at the financial support.  Even before the pandemic became our reality, it was clear that the Promise cohort would be best invested in not only with monetary resources, but with additional student life and academic support. UAB specifically designed support that would ease students into the transition to college to help them feel supported and successful as they completed each semester at UAB. This idea resulted in the creation of the UAB Birmingham Promise, a series of programs and staff that are solely dedicated to this specific cohort of students’ success, support, and retention.

In terms of staff, I personally have had the honor of being the program manager for the UAB Birmingham Promise since its inception in early 2020.  As the program manager, I serve as a consistent point of contact for students from the time they are recruited to their graduation from UAB. I am able to offer assistance with student admission and financial aid, networking support with university and community partners, coordination of workshops and events, and serve as an instructor for their required First Year Experience (FYE) course.  This consistent point of contact offers students a sense of familiarity when dealing with a larger institution such as UAB by helping them feel more secure as they advance through the application process and their enrollment.

But perhaps the most exciting aspect of the UAB Birmingham Promise is its peer mentoring program. UAB partnered with the Birmingham Education Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that specifically works with Birmingham City School students and graduates in workforce and educational development. With the help of the Birmingham Education Foundation, we were able to recruit and hire 10 current UAB students who are also alumni of the BCS system to create the Promise Mentor Team. This team consists of students from varied backgrounds, majors, and campus organizations. The team is comprised of sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have demonstrated interest in giving back to the Birmingham community and supporting this cohort of their fellow BCS alumni.

The Promise Mentors for the 2020-2021 school year began their outreach to the incoming freshman cohort on June 1, 2020.  During the summer, Mentors would rotate to a new group of 5-7 Mentees each week so that each mentor could get to know each mentee by the start of the Fall semester.  Every 2-3 weeks, we would have larger cohort-wide meetings to play games and discuss topics related to the transition to college, encouraging the entire cohort to build a sense of community with each other.  While COVID-19 limited some of our initial plans for in-person meetings, our Mentors prevailed in making sure each student was involved and felt seen during an (for lack of a less-tired word) “unprecedented” summer vacation.

The Promise Mentor Team’s summer outreach culminated in the Virtual UAB Birmingham Promise Welcome Weekend in early August.  During this 4-day program that was developed by UAB and Birmingham Education Foundation staff, Promise Scholars and their parents met with UAB Faculty, advisors, support staff, student organizations, community partners, and the mayor of Birmingham to prepare them for what to expect as they began college. We also wanted to ensure students were familiar with not only the academic and student life resources available, but also with those specific people on campus they could turn to for support both on and off campus.  For their part, Promise Mentors led workshops that focused on character building, maximizing one’s student experience, and tips for avoiding academic and social pitfalls common to college freshmen.  It was an incredibly edifying experience for both the Promise Mentors and the Promise Scholars and set the tone for what the Fall semester would entail.

What the UAB Birmingham Promise has meant during the COVID-19 era

Promise Mentors were officially assigned their permanent Mentee pairing upon completion of the Welcome Weekend. These pairings were based on Mentor and Mentee feedback on their interactions over the summer. Mentors are required to meet with each of their assigned Mentees for a minimum of 1.5 hours each week. That communication can take place through any medium that either Mentor or Mentee prefers. They tend to enjoy texting, doing group video meetings, and socially distanced activities. What’s been remarkable about the mentor team is their ability to go beyond these expectations and enter in their own personal dynamic and interactions with each student in addition to the group as a whole. From a student engagement aspect, the Promise Mentor relationship has been successful as well. Mentors have completed game nights with their students, connecting them with organizations they are already involved with such as Greek life or Anime Club. Some have even gone long-boarding on campus, which is becoming more of a fad each year. From an academic aspect, Mentors took the liberty of creating group study times for the entire cohort every few weeks, especially as we drew closer to midterms and finals. The most amazing thing about this semester has been, even in the face of COVID-19 and the restrictions it places upon us, the energy of the mentors and their mentees’ engagement has not waned. The Mentors have been great advocates for their Mentees, often bringing to light barriers or issues that may not otherwise have been captured outside of this mentoring program. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an additional source of stress for already anxious first-year college students. I believe that without these Mentors, and without the Birmingham Promise, this specific cohort would be in far more dire straits and would be much less engaged.

The Birmingham Promise has great potential to change the face of education in the city of Birmingham and how UAB engages with its local community. But its lasting impact will come from the individual stories from both Promise Mentors and Promise Scholars engaged in the program. Each student has benefitted from connecting with one another whether they be Mentor or Mentee. As this program grows, I am personally excited to see scholars become Mentors, Mentors become leaders, and those leaders investing further into the Birmingham Promise to create the continuum of care that our local community and the global community need to succeed. The Birmingham Promise has done a wonderful job making college more accessible to students who traditionally experience financial barriers. However, it is the personal touches such as the Promise Mentor team, that will truly determine a student’s success and happiness while enrolled at their college. If we can continue to invest in these financial and personal supports, I am hopeful that we will see not only increased retention year to year for this cohort but also a higher level of engagement in the university and in the surrounding community.

 

Supporting Transgender & Transitioning Students in the College Application Process

Melissa Kotacka, MA NCC CT, Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment

*Views and opinions expressed herein are the author’s own and not the institution’s

This year marks my thirteenth year in the admissions profession, and thirteen years of working with and supporting LGBTQIA+ students through this process across three institutions. I’ve been on the undergraduate and high school sides, and now I work in graduate admissions for a professional school within a larger university, with some independent client work. Some years, such as when I worked at the high school level at a small, independent school with a high proportion of students who were out within our community, my work with LGBTQIA+ students — especially with transgender, transitioning, nonbinary, and gender fluid students — was more visible given the amount of time I was able to spend with those individual students and their families. Some years, it has been more subtle, such as holding space for students to share deeply personal stories in their essays during committee, or shepherding a student through application systems back before those systems understood that “sex” and “gender” were two different things, and that our societal binary was incredibly limiting and inaccurate.

I am not special for my experiences. I am not rare in admissions work. Unless you are brand new to counseling, admissions or working with students in any capacity, you must know that the sentence “We’ve never had/I’ve never worked with a trans* student before” will always be followed by the unspoken caveats of “that you know of” and/or “that felt safe being out with you/your community.”

We have to assume we have trans* and nonbinary students in our populations. Even and especially if those students aren’t out and may be exploring and/or questioning their identities, these students need and deserve to feel seen and safe with us as their counselors, admissions officers, and support staff. It is also important to remember that all of us are working with trans* and nonbinary colleagues in the admissions space. We have to do this work for our students, and we have to do it for each other, full stop.

Please know: trans* and nonbinary communities are part of the larger LGBTQIA+ community – and within that larger community, there are challenges of discrimination and transphobia (and biphobia and racism). Here in the SACAC region, we must truly mean it when we say “Y’all means ALL.”

To that end, I offer the following collection of resources, queries, and suggestions for expanding your and your educational communities’ capacity for supporting trans* and nonbinary students. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I’m hopeful that you’ll find something useful here:

  • Start with getting your vocabulary updated.
  • Practice and normalize using pronouns:
    • At my current institution, our Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity emailed our full campus at the start of this Fall 2020 semester with instructions for how to add our pronouns to our Zoom screennames. It is also expected that we include our pronouns in our email signatures. In pre-pandemic times, we included pronouns as part of our introductions during live events (e.g. “Hi, my name is Melissa and I use she/her pronouns, and I am one of our Assistant Directors of Admission”). Pronoun buttons and stickers were also common practice.
    • Especially normalize screwing up, quickly fixing mistakes, and then immediately moving on without making misgendering someone else all about you. Apologize, correct yourself and/or gracefully accept correction, and do better next time.
    • NOTE: Pronouns are not “preferred” – they simply are. I don’t “prefer” to use she/her – I just do.
  • For trans* and nonbinary students, use their chosen names wherever possible, and follow their lead.
    • Coming out is a lifelong process, as individuals determine when and whether to share this part of their identities based on a combination of personal, safety, professional, and other factors. It is possible that your trans* and nonbinary students may only be out in one of their communities at first – maybe at school, but not at home; or maybe just one community at school (e.g. their athletic team or close friend group) but not to the whole school. Ask your students how they want you to navigate their naming and pronouns.
    • Avoid deadnaming where you can, and talk about those circumstances where you can’t.
      • Know your campus policies for updating transcripts and other records (e.g. most institutions require that a legal name change be on file with the state first). If you don’t already include a “preferred name” section on school documents and online learning systems, advocate to add one.
      • Proactively reach out to trans* and nonbinary students when you know there will be a conflict in naming conventions. Explain when and where they may still see their prior name so that they are not caught off guard.
      • In a virtual world, allow students to rename themselves on virtual platforms. Constantly seeing their deadname in their learning environment with no option to change it is hurtful.
      • Navigating applications can be tough in this regard, and this is where open, honest, and authentic conversations with students are key. These logistics will also depend on how the institutions themselves handle applications from trans* and nonbinary students. Ask admissions offices for support here, and present the options to your students for how they would like to proceed.
  • Get trained:
    • Campus-based colleagues: your LGBQTIA+ center likely has staff and faculty sessions available. Check their schedule for each semester, and talk to your manager/team lead about the possibility of attending as a group – or even scheduling a training session with your whole office.
    • CBO- and School-based colleagues: if you are located near a campus, check in with their LGBTQIA+ center or office. They may have the capacity to accommodate you to attend one of their training sessions, or to host a training for your staff. If your area has a city-sponsored LGBTQIA+ Center, they may also be able to support you.
    • Independent colleagues: Reach out to city-supported resources, and see what community resources there may be.
  • Get trained again.
    • Best practices evolve over time. We have a professional obligation to ensure we are as up to date as we can be.
    • Most of us will change institutions at one or more points during our career. That is a great time to both refresh your general knowledge on LGBTQIA+ best practices AND to learn how your new community supports their trans* and nonbinary students, staff, and faculty.
  • Make trans*, nonbinary, and LGBTQIA+ training part of your regular professional development.
  • Institutional-based colleagues, some considerations for you
    • Do you link to your campus LGBTQIA+ center from your admissions homepages as a resource?
    • Does your application offer the option to identify beyond the rigid binary of female/male, and if so, do you allow students to self-identify rather than simply selecting “Other”?
    • Update your prospect and inquiry forms to be more inclusive: include preferred name as a bare minimum, and consider including an option for students to self-identify their gender. Double check that you are using “preferred name” in your mailings rather than defaulting to “first name.”
    • How do you train your readers to hold student essays about coming out with care and respect?
    • Do your application instructions include guidance on how to navigate documentation for trans* and nonbinary students?
  • School- and CBO-based colleagues, some considerations for you:
    • If you are writing letters for your students and they have come out to you, ask them whether/how they would like you to address anything about their identity, and then do that. Follow their lead here.
    • Gender-neutral bathrooms should be clearly marked and easily accessible. “Just use the staff bathroom” is a band-aid, not a solution.
    • If your school has a gay-straight alliance, is it welcoming for trans* and nonbinary students?
    • What kinds of harassment policies do you have in place to protect your students? Are they equally enforced?
    • If your school offers sexual education, advocate for https://www.hrc.org/resources/a-call-to-action-lgbtq-youth-need-inclusive-sex-education.
    • Go beyond the basic pride flag. There are many communities within the broader LGBTQIA+ community, and as noted above, some struggle for visibility and acceptance.  Some campuses have the resources to provide pride flags for students, such as setting them in a designated area of an office for taking. Whether the flags are big or small, this can be a strong but passive way to signal “You are seen and held for who you are.”
  • School- and CBO-based and independent colleagues, help your students check campus culture at the institutions they are considering
    • Ask admissions representatives about supports specific to trans* and nonbinary students.
    • Does a campus have a LGTBQIA+ center? How well is it staffed? How robust is their training, support, resources for their campus and how public are they about it on their website and social media?
    • Does the institution’s application include space for gender identities beyond the binary?
    • When an institution emails your student, do they use the preferred or legal name?
    • Check the surrounding community where schools are located – while college may be a bubble, it isn’t hermetically sealed.
    • What supports are in place through an institution’s Title IX office?
    • How robust are student health insurance plans? Do they cover hormones and other medical support (e.g. surgery) for trans* students?
    • Check state laws and policies regarding LGBTQIA+ communities, such as bathroom bills.

There is a lot of work to be done in ensuring that our trans* and nonbinary students and colleagues are safe and affirmed in their learning and work environments. Are there other resources and suggestions you’ve found helpful in your work? I encourage you to share additional suggestions, and resources in the comments to this piece or send them to SACAC’s Inclusion, Access, and Success Committee at access@sacac.org

Be well and hold each other close, y’all.

Celebrating National Transfer Student Week

 

 

 

 

 

SACAC is excited to celebrate National Transfer Student Week this week! We contacted some SACAC post-secondary members who work directly in transfer admission for a virtual interview about this field of college admissions. Here are some selected responses:

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in transfer access and success recently?

  • “More interest in the transfer student experience as a whole.  More investment in their success and less of thinking of them as an afterthought.”
  • “The biggest change I have seen recently has been the test-optional movement. Especially for our Freshman-Transfer students who may still have to use High School information to apply, that optional test score has helped a lot of students gain admission when previously they would not have been able to.”

What’s misunderstood about transfer admissions or the transfer experience?

  • “That transfers don’t need as much help because they’ve “done it before.”
  • “The common issue many transfer students have is about their credits; they need to know how many will transfer and about school accreditation. Each institution is different, so making clear statements about how credit evaluation works is key to a successful transfer experience.”

What’s one thing you’d change about transfer admissions?

  • “I’d want for it to get the same amount of attention as freshmen admissions, especially when it comes to scholarships.
  • The amount of attention it gets. Transferring needs to be a more acceptable step for students. The more we communicate and advertise the benefits, the easier the process and transfer experience can be.”

As we continue our recognition of Transfer Student Week, we are still looking for SACAC member experience with the transfer process as a student for an upcoming Southern Scope Blog post! If you transferred institutions as an undergraduate or graduate student or both, tell us about it anonymously here.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

by Rachel Fried, Director, Public School Initiative

Basic cultural comprehension goes a long way.

Often, schools and individuals are unsure where to even begin with Native recruitment and retention. The reality is, simple transformations can have great significance. As college access practitioners, a first step can be to look inward at institutional and individual language, references, and resources through a critical indigenous lens. A few common areas for consideration are below.

A starting point for people in all places

The way we communicate often makes or breaks opportunities to be active accomplices. Whether seasoned indigenous-serving professionals or first-time engagers, starting with how we talk to and about Native and Indigenous people is always the best step one.

Avoid historification

Native people are often referred to in the past tense – “those who used to live on this land”… “the ones who came before us”… – and honestly, it’s creepy. (Side note: It wasn’t until the last 20 years when Native American people were officially moved out of the Museum of Natural History.) The point is, Native people exist today… Check your school and personal verbiage for unintentional historification! It’s a quick way to demonstrate understanding.

Amplify authenticity (know your sources)

Ethnic fraud is rampant. We can all contribute to its end. Rely exclusively on authentic Indigenous and Indigenous-serving sources for knowledge and support. Amplify authentic indigeneity at your institution, elevate authentic indigeneity everywhere.

Recognize (specific) sovereign nations

Understanding Native American identity as a citizenship, nationhood-based status is an essential foundation. In daily practice, asking about, remembering, and recognizing the specific Native nations of individuals is a key starting place for effective culturally-resonant communication.

Acknowledge diversity (of identity and experience)

As with many communities of color, the vast diversity of identity and experience within Native America and the broader global Indigenous community is immense. Start by acknowledging the fact of breadth, and then break down pan-Native assumptions in communications and practices wherever possible.

When in doubt, ask! SACAC provides a knowledge- and experience-rich community for all. Whether you are deeply dialed in with Native and Indigenous communities or you are just beginning your process, let’s learn together.

Florida Regional Admission Counselors (FRAC)

An interview with Antonio Serrano, Treasurer & Membership Chair for FRAC, by Nicole Sumrall

In 2019, a new Regional Admissions Network was founded, the Florida Regional Admissions Counselors, or FRAC. Nicole Sumrall, FL Communication Liaison, interviewed Antonio Serrano, Treasurer and Membership Chair of FRAC and Florida Regional Recruitment Manager for The Ohio State University, to help share what the new organization has been up to and their plans for the future!

What is your mission for FRAC?

Our mission is to educate Floridians about out-of-state higher education opportunities while providing professional networking for its members.

Who are the board members currently serving FRAC?

We have seven members who make up our board; they are listed below.

      1. Kim Parrett, Sacred Heart University – Chair
      2. Antonio Serrano, The Ohio State University – Membership Chair/Treasurer
      3. Stephanie Hospodar, University of Tennessee Knoxville- Secretary
      4. Tara Nelan, Muhlenberg College – Counselor Relations
      5. Ernea Sims, Seton Hall University – Program Coordinator
      6. Casie Tate, University of Alabama – Program Coordinator
      7. Peyton Spears, University of Mississippi – Technology Chair

How many members do you currently have in FRAC?

We currently have 20 institutions represented in FRAC and a total of 24 individuals. Our goal is to continue to grow to be able to help Floridians explore their out-of-state options.

What types of events have you hosted or attended this year as a group?

We were able to sponsor two events this year, the Hillsborough County Counselor Lunch and the Hillsborough County Monthly College/Career Counseling Meeting. We were also able to participate in the Palm Beach County Counselor Speed Dating Lunch and Florida SACAC Drive-In, as well as hosting a FRAC retreat for members.

Who can become a member?

Membership guidelines as of 2019-2020:

  1. Members must work out of their homes.
  2. Admissions must be the members’ primary profession.
  3. Members’ residences and recruitment territories must include the state of Florida.
  4. Member institutions main campus must be outside of the state of Florida
  5. Members or their institutions must be members of either SACAC (Southern Association for College Admission Counseling) or NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling).

What has FRAC accomplished to date?

Some of the items that we have been able to accomplish thus far are building our website, achieving incorporated not for profit status, opening a banking account with membership dues, and starting our branding through some bags, business cards, and our website.

What are some future plans for the organization?

We have some events that are currently planned, but unfortunately due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus we have already had to cancel one. We have a FRAC Road Trip planned. We do also have a retreat planned for May.


I hope you enjoyed getting to learn a bit more about the new FRAC organization. I would recommend taking a look at their website if you would like to learn more and how you can get involved if you meet the membership criteria. Website can be found here: https://wearefrac.org/.