Member Spotlight

Amy Couillard
High School Counselor
Atlee High School (VA)

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

I began teaching in 2001 and really loved the job. However, I remembered the best teachers I had were the ones who loved people but were also very passionate about what they were teaching. I liked teaching history but my passion was students. After a few years of people telling me I would be a great counselor, I looked into the profession. One of my best friends who I was teaching with at the time and I started the Counselor Ed program at VCU together. As I worked in my practicum and internships I found I had a love of working with students in all levels for a variety of reasons. High School counseling won out because I love all the big events that happen in high school. The most exciting part of my job is helping students plan for their future and working to see those plans become reality. Graduation is always emotional for me because I am so excited for the students to move on to the next phase in life and celebrate all they have accomplished thus far.

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

Joining PCACAC and NACAC has been one of the best things I have done in my career. My first PCACAC experience was at Randolph-Macon at a one day workshop. I learned more in that one day than I had learned in all of my experiences prior. I have been lucky enough to attend PCACAC’s annual conference twice since then. This past year I was fortunate enough to attend the NACAC National Conference in Salt Lake City, UT through the Imagine Grant.  I loved every minute of the opportunity to learn from and network with people on both sides of the desk and all over the world. I am so much more confident in my knowledge and my relationships with college admissions counselors as a result of being a part of both organizations. I can't encourage folks enough to join and attend these events.

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

I absolutely love the outdoors and traveling. Working outside would be fantastic. I would love to be a camp counselor at a year round summer camp style camp somewhere on the water. A girl can dream, right?

What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why? Working in a High School I am saddened by the number of students who are suffering from anxiety and depression. Many of the students I work with put such incredible pressure on themselves. There is such fear of failure and that their lives will never amount to anything unless they get in to the “top” college. However, there are so many wonderful schools for our students and I wish they could see that. I would love to see our students enjoying school and life by putting less pressure on themselves. We spend a lot of time on mindfulness in hopes that we can help students manage their stress, enjoy the now, and know that it will all be okay.


Brandon L. Joyner
Assistant Director of Admissions
Elon University (NC)

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

Getting into admissions has truly been a blessing for me. I was working as a television news reporter for about a year and decided that I wanted to make a career change, which would hopefully help me be able to see my Mother more often, especially after my Father passed away suddenly in March of 2016. I received a call from a good friend at Elon University, my alma mater, who told me there was an opening for an admissions counselor position, who would have the territory of the DC area, where I am originally from. I applied and after completing the interview process, I was offered the position. I started with the Admissions team at Elon in August of 2016 and I am truly grateful to work here.

What do you love most about your job?

I love being able to interact with students! I love being able to get to know them on a personal level and assist them through a stressful time in their lives: applying to college. I love being able to meet them in their high schools for college visits or through college fairs/evening events. For many, they do not know what they want to study when they get to college and I enjoy sitting down with them and helping them figure out what they are interested in and exploring the possibility of making that interest, something they could study. My Admissions Counselor played a key role in why I attended Elon and I love being able to be an influential impact as to why a student decides to come to Elon. I also love the collaboration between College Admissions Representatives and College Counselors. I always cherish being able to connect with counselors after a college visit at a high school to tell them about what’s new at Elon and share other information to help their students who are considering Elon. Relationships are important to me and I value that time spent with the counselors, when I am traveling.

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

I am related to Muhammed Ali (On my Mom’s side)! I am also a singer and have been singing in many choirs and ensembles since I was three years old.

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

My advice to someone considering entering the profession is to, first of all, absolutely do it! There is a lot of support in this profession. I love the support colleagues from my office as well as other institutions gave me during my first year as an Admissions Counselor. I would also recommend once they are in the profession asking a lot of questions, getting a mentor and get plugged in to PCACAC or your local ACAC. There are so many opportunities for professional development in this field. I have met so many helpful colleagues while traveling and have attended workshops on how to be a better Admissions Representative, whether that’s in college visits, diversity/inclusion or strategizing new events. I think it is so important to get plugged in and have a mentor, when you join this profession because there is always room to learn and get better, no matter how long you have been in this field.


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].