Celeste Surís-Rosselli Esq., Director of College Counseling at The Baldwin School
Interviewed by: Djiara Meehan, College Counselor @ St. John’s School in PR
How did you get started in college admissions?
I was a corporate attorney until 2008 when the financial meltdown hit. I had a conversation with a family friend who had gone from being an attorney to a college counselor herself. She was setting up a new school and looking for someone with experience. In law school I had a side job helping students write their college essays. That side hustle turned into my first college counseling job and eleven years later, here I am.
What is your favorite part of the job?
The kids. Seeing them happy is what makes me happy. It’s a super cliché answer, but helping them find their place is really rewarding. I didn’t have the best advising when I was applying to college; in my high school I got lost in the shuffle. 20 years ago I wanted to study international relations, and my counselors didn’t know how to advise me. But there was a counselor at another high school who my family knew, and he helped me find the school that was the best fit for me, supporting me throughout the process. My favorite part is doing that: helping them find a place that “clicks” for them.
You have worked both on the college and high school sides of admissions. Do you have a preference?
I didn’t think I was going to like the college side as much as I ended up liking it. I never saw myself as someone who liked data, statistics, and trends, and that ended up being my favorite part. Seeing how a class was being built and shaped, and how students were numbers and yet people at the same time. I loved that part, but I always kept coming back to students and connecting with them.
How has SACAC played a role in your career?
I’m a relatively new member of SACAC. I have felt very supported and listened to as a member. When I went to my first conference, people like Nancy Beane and Emmi Harwood were asking me what I wanted to do with my career. I feel like I can reach out to anyone in the organization, people in positions of power and influence, and feel heard and seen.
What is your best advice to someone new to the profession?
There are going to be frustrations; it’s a frustrating process. It’s a marathon, and you make it to the end by focusing on the goal, which is making sure you are working in the best interest of your students.
What are your quarantine hacks?
Setting up a decent workspace has been important for me. I decided instead of working in my home office to set up my desk by the big picture window in my apartment so I can see the outside and not feel like I’m in a cave. And social media, helping students engage with universities, checking in with them, asking them to send me funny jokes – anything that helps them forget that it’s their senior year, and instead of celebrating it with their friends, they’re home. That’s my hack: keeping connected.