IvyWise Gives Back: Counselor Nat’s Dedication to A Better Chance
By Nat, IvyWise Master College Admissions Counselor
Positively impacting communities, both local and global, is important to IvyWise. Through IvyWise Gives Back, we aim to improve educational opportunities for children across the world. Our counselors are also heavily involved in various non-profit, service, and community organizations and projects, and we want to highlight the great work our counselors do outside of admissions consulting!
IvyWise counselor Nat is passionate about education and creating educational opportunities for students from underprivileged backgrounds. This is why Nat is heavily involved with A Better Chance of Westport, a non-profit that works with gifted, economically disadvantaged male students of color to provide educational opportunities and community diversity. Read more about A Better Chance of Westport and Nat’s involvement below:
I spend a good amount of my time working closely with the boys in the A Better Chance of Westport Program. Our primary mission is to “provide academically gifted, economically disadvantaged and highly motivated young men of color (African-American, Latino, Asian-American and Native American) the opportunity to live in the Westport, CT community and to study in our outstanding public high school. Our goal is to help prepare our scholars through a better education to assume positions of responsibility and leadership in their careers, communities, and families.”
Growing up in Westport, CT as one of the very few students of color made a lasting impact on me. I wasn’t really able to explore what it meant to be non-white in this world until I reached college, and that is one of the many reasons why I feel so strongly about my experience at Skidmore College. For one, it gave me access to friendships with students that came from underprivileged backgrounds, and while my upbringing was anything but underprivileged, I came to really connect with the human experience of being non-white in a predominantly white landscape. Skidmore was really one of the first times in my life where I was able to celebrate being Asian in a school community environment, and I learned so much about leadership, affinity groups, and the dynamics surrounding privilege and power in this country, especially as they relate to education.
Fast-forward to five years after college graduation and I returned to Skidmore to work as Skidmore’s Director for Multicultural Recruitment. One of the things that I learned in working with students of color was how to identify the intangible ingredients that would make students successful on a predominantly white college campus. Not only did Skidmore diversify exponentially, but Skidmore’s retention and graduation rate was among the best in the country for students of color, especially for students from low-income backgrounds.
When I moved back to Westport to start a family, it was only a matter of time before I became involved with the diversity efforts as a whole. I was familiar with A Better Chance from my days as an admission officer as it was one of the many programs that I recruited students of color from, and I was fortunate enough to get involved when I found out that there was a chapter in Westport.
As an executive board member I have many roles within the organization which include chairing scholar selection, taking notes at meetings as recording secretary, being an alternative host family, and driving the boys to where ever they may need to go – even it that means picking them up from a late night movie or after-prom festivities early in the morning.
In addition to having the opportunity to live and study in one of the most affluent suburban communities in the United States, I hope the boys will acquire some of the intangible skills, or what I refer to as “cultural capital,” which will make finding success in their lives more likely.
Working with students at IvyWise has afforded me the opportunity to work with students from a variety of backgrounds, including a number of low-income pro bono students, and this has only strengthened my ability to work with students from A Better Chance. My masters course work also allowed me to look closely at the student of color experience in college, and gain valuable data that helps me counsel students regardless of their socioeconomic background. I consider myself quite lucky to say that I truly love the work that I do, and realize that not many people can call their vocation their avocation, too.