AWARD WINNERS: IN THEIR WORDS

Last Spring the International ACAC board placed their votes for three awards that honor leaders in our field. These include the Distinguished Service Award, the Rising Star Award, and the Peter Hauet Lifetime Achievement Award. This year the awards went to some inspiring individuals who have made big contributions to International ACAC over the years.

Sam Jeong from UWC Changshu, China was selected for the International ACAC Rising Star Award. Sam was recognized for his work with the International ACAC Scholar Cohort and his innovative idea to have students nominate their counselors as scholars. He writes, "Thanks to International ACAC for this tremendous honor! I am still reeling. The idea to have students nominate their former counselors for the International ACAC Scholars program came to me after a particularly intense conversation with a student. She told me that the only reason she was studying in China was because her former teacher—not counselor— back in her home country had pushed her to believe in herself.  As someone who grew up in the public school system in South Korea and Seattle, I realize that the vast majority of secondary schools in the world do not have a college counseling program.

I would go as far as to argue that the profession was created to serve the already privileged and savvy children of highly educated parents with the means to send their kids to an expensive private institution. So, in a way, serving on the Inclusion, Access, and Success committee has been an avenue for me to push back against the system and also to recognize and celebrate the educators working with high-achieving, low-income students who often volunteer to be college counselors on top of their regular professions. The 2019 International ACAC Scholars, who I had the privilege of meeting and befriending as a part of the orientation team, are humble, curious, kind, selfless, and above all, deeply committed to the success of each student they serve. They are a force to be reckoned with.  

I would like to thank Joe Tavares, our fearless leader in the IAS Committee who makes things move and shake, my wonderful colleagues in the UWC Changshu Office (Elisha Anderson, Martyn Rowlands, Slade Burns, and Yingzhi Wang) who inspire me every day with their insights, patience, and humor, the UWC counseling network for their guidance and wisdom, Sulgi Lim in the Williams College admissions office for her mentorship and leading me down this path, and most importantly to the UWCCSC students who I have had the great fortune to advise and befriend. I am, because of you all! 

This year's Distinguished Service Award goes to Dane Rowley from California Lutheran University. "The shock that I felt upon receiving the Distinguished Service Award is only matched the deep honor and gratitude I feel now. My first conference was in 2006 at TCU. To think that these 14 conferences later I would be recognized in this way is still beyond my ability to understand, but please know it isn't beyond my ability to appreciate. Thank you so much for this. Thank you for those who nominated me. Thank you for the session proposal committees who have taken chances on some very different and sometimes controversial session topics over the years. I love this organization and I love the work we do. 

I hope that this award is a signal to others in this beautiful community that service can take many many forms, and not just the forms of formal leadership. Over the years I've tried, however imperfectly and clumsily, to use my American, white, straight, cis-gendered voice, and to place this privileged body solidly into the fight for justice and radical inclusion for women, for LGBQ+ people, for Transgender people, and fiercely against the forces of racism and religious intolerance. Persistent involvement and participation in sessions matters. Showing up for conversation through discomfort is powerful. Saying "yes, I can help with that", even when so many voices inside say "I don't think I can do that!" Be vulnerable in what you don't know, and also be vulnerable in proclaiming what you believe so deeply in your heart you can't possibly keep it in! Use every conference with each other, every high school visit and college fair with students to build up another human heart to believe in the deep wealth of experience and culture they have. 

OACAC in 2006, and International ACAC now is more than a professional association. It is even more than group of talented and passionate people who care deeply about this work in a global context. International ACAC has become for me a community, even at times a family, of individuals who have heard and responded to the same call that I have heard. Through our various experiences, cultures, backgrounds and contexts we have responded to the call to see the best in the world's youth, advocate fiercely for their path forward, and then to watch as they turn into the global leaders we envisioned them to be. We see clearly the pain and suffering and injustice in the world. But we have responded to that with a deeper hope that we and the students we serve can and will build peace, heal wounds, push boundaries, fight for the rights of all." 

Finally, this year's Peter Hauet Lifetime Achievement Award goes to longtime member and past president, Bridget Herrera. "My heart is full as I write to thank my International ACAC family for awarding me with The Peter Hauet Lifetime Achievement Award. Honestly, the words ‘thank you’ do not adequately describe in the least just how beholden I am to this community and what it has done for me, in part as a professional but also as a human being.

I have been given the gift of opportunities.  Early on in my professional career, I attended my first International ACAC Conference (then OACAC), signing up simultaneously for the CIS bus tour.  At the time, I was asked if I would present with an extremely savvy gentleman. I sucked in my breath and said, “Of course.” I look back at that moment, twenty years later, and know that accepting this opportunity, no matter how daunting, was a pivotal point in my career and saying yes to opportunities became a way of life. That same year I was invited to serve as Counselor Liaison for the CIS Latin America Committee. Recognition at any level, I believe, serves as a catalyst. For me, these two ‘invitations’ propelled me into a life I never knew I could live.  These events are reminders to me to extend opportunities to others whenever possible.

Of course, none of this would have happened without the support of others.  So many of our community members have lifted and supported me over the years, and I am also fortunate to have worked at schools that understand the value of college counseling and the importance of relationship-building with counselors and admission representatives, both locally and around the world. 

International ACAC barely resembles the OACAC I was introduced to twenty years ago.  It has grown and developed into an organization that I am extremely proud of, dealing with complex issues while trying to meet the needs of an ever-growing and diverse population. However, there is one thing that remains constant and that is the feeling of community and our support for each other. At the end of each conference, I am simultaneously exhausted but rejuvenated as well. International ACAC will be forever in my heart, and my gratitude for this ‘family’ knows no bounds.  Until next year!"

 

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