Volume 23, Issue 1 – September 2023

Member Spotlight

Terry Chevako Bava, Best Fit College Counseling (PR)

Q: How long have you been in this role?

A: I’ve been independent since 2019 and have been working in college consulting for more than a decade.

Q: What previous roles have you held?

A: I have worn many hats! I started my professional life working for my parents’ small publishing company and then had stints as a journalist for San Juan City Magazine, Caribbean Business and the San Juan Star plus freelance writing and editing. After my son was born, I leaned into learning about the educational system from a parent’s perspective, which led me to produce copy for school newsletters first for Baldwin School and then for TASIS Dorado.

At TASIS, I was deeply involved in community life as a parent, and then I was drafted into teaching, which I loved. In my 18 years at the school I taught Journalism, Photography & Photoshop, Geography, AP Human Geography, and multiple levels of English, and I worked with seniors on their application essays. When Hurricane María closed school for 18 days in the middle of application season, Susan Seitzer Fortuño and I established the Writing Center at TASIS to support the seniors. None of our students needed the application extensions that were offered!

Q: What brought you to this particular role?

A: The more I learned about the college application process, the better I understood that effective college application essays are very different from strong essays for English class. I am at my core a writing teacher, but since I believe teachers should be lifelong learners, I earned my certificate in college counseling from UCLA Extension. That prepared me to launch my practice. Susan joined me last year and we are having a wonderful time!

Q: Given unlimited time and funding, what one initiative, program, or service would you implement today for your students?

A: I would absolutely put a fully staffed writing center into every school in Puerto Rico so that students of all ages could learn to express themselves in multiple formats and styles. I wish for everyone to experience writing for the joy of it, rather than for a grade. Plus, anyone in any profession can benefit from stronger writing skills.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for someone new to the profession?

A: I will repeat the advice that I received from a fellow SACAC member several years ago: join professional organizations and get involved! I learned so much from first HECA and now IECA and SACAC.

Q: What brought you to SACAC?

A colleague, Celeste Suris-Rosselli! She is always working to benefit our profession, and I wanted to be part of that conversation.

Q: What has been (or what you hope to be) the most impactful part of your SACAC membership experience? 

A: Interacting with peers from my area, with more of a common experience, is so helpful! I am looking forward to meeting more people in Raleigh in March.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: My absolute favorite part of this job is seeing the happiness (and relief) when students realize they’ve written excellent personal statements–in their own voices–that reflect who they are and who they want to be.

Q: What have you learned about yourself as a professional during the past year?

A: I have learned that while I believe I’m good at what I do, I am even better as a member of a team. My partner and I strengthen each other, and we both benefit from our friendly relationships with other IECs and high school counselors. This helps us to serve our students.

Q: What have you learned about the students you serve during the past year?

A: I have learned that remote learning did a number on our students, and they need our love and understanding more than ever.

This Year’s Hot Topics

The members of the SACAC Communication Advisory Board (CAB) produce the Southern Scope to bring members the latest on issues impacting our profession. Here are some of the topics we’re watching this year:

  • FAFSA Changes: How will colleges support families, school-based counselors, and other student pathway advocates as they adjust to deadlines and requirements?
  • Artificial intelligence and college admission: How will the increase in the use of AI in the United States frame conversations about college admission on both sides of the desk?
  • Legacy admissions: Is it here to stay or will more colleges and universities abandon the practice?
  • Test-optional and test-flexible admission: As we move closer to “normal,” will the future of college admission include test-optional and/or test-flexible admissions?

What topics are you watching? Let us know: [email protected]

NACAC Conference Bound!

Are you NACAC conference bound? While in Baltimore for this year’s conference, let’s leverage the “Power of Us”! How? Well….

  • Join us for the SACAC Membership Meeting Thursday, September 21, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. @ the Baltimore Convention Center, room 308
  • Support your fellow SACAC Members by attending one of their sessions! Check your email for a link to download the app, and browse through sessions and speakers to add a few SACAC member-led sessions to your schedule.

SACAC Annual Conference Proposals

This year’s theme, Forward Together, recognizes the importance of all constituencies in college admissions coming together to create equitable pathways to higher education for our students and to support one another as professionals. The work that we do is critical, and our industry needs us now more than ever. Consider presenting at the 2024 SACAC annual conference, March 24 – 25, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Have a session idea and looking for co-presenters? Use this form to describe your session idea and provide your contact information and SACAC will do its best to connect you if someone has a similar session idea. We cannot guarantee a match, but we are willing to try!

Session proposals must be submitted via Proposal Space by the deadline of Friday, October 6, 2023.

More information: https://www.sacac.org/professional-development/annual-conference/

Southern Scope is brought to you by the SACAC Communication Advisory Board (CAB).

  • Joseph Blassberg, The Greene School (FL)
  • Allyson Brown, South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (SC)
  • Samantha Krietemeyer, Houston Academy (AL)
  • Madison McGlone, University of Tampa (FL)
  • Jonathan Woog, Charlotte Country Day School (NC)

Questions, comments, or story ideas? Send them to [email protected].