Member Spotlight

Nicholas Orban
Coordinator of Admission and Limited Enrollment Programs
University of Maryland, College Park (MD)

What led you into admissions/college counseling? Share your journey story!

Like many of us, I was a tour guide and student worker in the admissions office! I developed an interest in the admission process to UMD, and was interested in continuing to benefit the university by helping to recruit and admit a strong class of students each year. Now that I’ve been here for more than five years, I’ve learned about a number of other topic areas in the field that grab my attention and passion – like government relations and our interactions with our elected representatives, for example.

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory or travel story?

My colleagues at UMD will tell you I have the worst travel luck! They’re all so memorable that it’s hard to pick a favorite travel story. I’ve had cars break down on the side of the highway (New York Thruway, two miles from Albany, NY), bags lost, cancelled and delayed flights across the board. It’s now to the point where my wife jokes that she doesn’t want to travel with me anymore (except I’m not sure how much of what she says is kidding or serious).

If not working in admissions/college counseling, what else could you see yourself pursuing? 

I’d likely be working somewhere in either the federal government or political advocacy. I had a lot of great experiences as an undergrad student working in these fields as an intern, and could definitely see myself going down this path instead of college admissions.

What advice would you give to someone considering entering the admissions/college counseling profession?

This field has so many opportunities for a new professional to pursue. I’ve developed great friendships and relationships that I hope will last the entirety of my professional career. This profession also gives you the opportunity to learn a wide variety of skills, so any particular passion or strength that you have can easily be pursued. 

Alice Robertson
School Counselor
Chantilly High School (VA)

What led you into admissions/college counseling? Share your journey story!

I am so fortunate that my parents had the means to be incredibly supportive of my own college search when I was in high school; my Mom and I took numerous road trips to visit campuses. I enrolled at Emory University for my freshman year and I reaped the benefits of small class sizes and the opportunity to volunteer as a tour guide and Sophomore Advisor in a residence hall. Something was missing for me, though, and I didn’t feel as connected to my studies as I wanted to (I was a Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology major). In December of my sophomore year I went to my brother’s graduation from Virginia Tech and was impressed by the sense of community I found among his friends and classmates. Over the next few weeks I kept researching VT Admissions on and off and stumbled upon their Human Development program. I applied the evening the transfer application was due and was admitted. Once I broke the news to my family, they were supportive but surprised. I honestly never looked back. Emory was a terrific place for me at the time and Virginia Tech became that place for my last two years of college. I applied for the Admission Advisor position in the spring of my senior year and was fortunate to be offered one of five ‘road runner’ jobs.

I truly believe all those road trips with my Mom, working as a residence hall advisor, and my own transfer experience led me to admissions and ultimately working at a high school. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership (or membership) in PCACAC and/or NACAC?

This may sound cliché, but I believe that membership in PCACAC and NACAC itself creates the opportunity for leadership in these organizations. Both organizations thrive on their people and they are constantly looking for people to help and step in to various roles. Step in if you hear of a need for conference planning (that’s how I got started), a PD event, Day on the Hill or something else. Or – better yet - step up if you see a need for something.

What's a fun fact that most people don't know about you?

I worked at a radio station throughout high school -WFOS 88.7 FM in Chesapeake, Virginia. After taking a summer course on radio broadcast, I spent almost every Tuesday after school working as a ‘DJ’ during a 2-hour block of classical music and then traveling to City Hall with a teacher/mentor to cover City Council proceedings. I found my confidence and my voice in that experience and I’ve learned to follow my instincts and ‘jump in’ to new experiences.

How do you balance work/life?

On a day-to-day basis, I enjoy reading, writing and working out. My husband, Brian, and our two kids (Ava, 11 and Nathan, 7) also help keep me grounded and laughing. Binging on reality TV shows (just about anything on Bravo) or Netflix (The West Wing!) occasionally also helps.

PCACAC events and meetings also help remind me to slow down, think about what’s happening in the admission/college counseling world and also connect with people who love this profession as much as I do. 

Christine Jenkins
Recruitment Coordinator
University of Maryland Baltimore County (MD)

What led you into admissions/college counseling? Share your journey story!

My journey to higher education and admissions is quite interesting. I came to UMBC immediately after I graduated from Howard University to pursue a career in Human Resources through a contractual position. I soon realized that my personality was too big for HR and I wasn’t able to help or work with students.

Once I saw a position open up in the Admissions Office, I went for it! It was and still is the best decision I’ve ever made. I realized throughout the greater majority of my life, I was always representing a brand, whether that be a dance studio, high school, sorority, or a university. I always enjoyed telling people about my experiences and getting them excited about their next steps in life. Which is why admissions was such a natural fit for me.

What's your favorite admissions/counseling memory or travel story?

My favorite admissions/travel story would have to be the time I went to a college fair with two different color shoes on. Let me give you some context. It was my first year of travel (you already know how that can be), I was going from high school to high school and had college fairs almost every night in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I may or may not have had 3 different pair of shoes on the floor of the driver’s side (I know not safe… do not try this at home). I think the fair was starting in 10 minutes, and without thinking or looking down, I slipped on my shoes and went inside. Halfway through the fair, one of the other admissions counselors said, “Hey! You have two different shoes on!” I looked down and I was mortified.

All in all, I shared a great laugh with all of my admissions folks that evening and throughout the rest of the travel season because they wouldn’t let me live it down.

What do you love most about your job?

The students! They are the number 1 reason as to why I am still in the profession. Education opens the doors to not only more earning power, but also the opportunity to learn from faculty and peers while providing invaluable experiences.

I’m also equally as passionate about working with underrepresented populations and informing them of how they can access higher education.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership (or membership) in PCACAC and/or NACAC?

PCACAC is a great way to get involved and learn more about the admissions and college counseling field from the best of the best. From my 4 years of being a part of this great organization, I have found great mentorship; I was selected to present my initiative that I created within my office at the annual conference; and, I served as faculty member of the Middle Management Institute at last year’s conference. The sky truly is the limit within this organization. Do not be afraid to get involved, put yourself out there. I promise you will not regret it. 

What's a fun fact that most people don't know about you?

A fun fact about me is that I am a professional dancer! I have been dancing for my entire life and I am trained in almost all styles; including, ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, and African.

Interviews are conducted by Melissa Ward, Communications Committee.  If you know someone who deserves to be in the Member Spotlight or would like us to highlight you, please email Melissa at [email protected].