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Meet an Admissions Counselor: Vanessa Garrido

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Vanessa Garrido Glogower College Coach

Written by Vanessa Garridoon November 11th, 2021

My career has been dedicated to education and educational access. After graduating from Reed College, I joined the admissions team at my alma mater. I then became Director of Multicultural Recruitment at Reed, reading applications from students of color from every state in the U.S., and organizing and hosting visit programs for our prospective students of color. After working in admissions, I decided to pursue a career in teaching. I completed the New York City Teaching Fellows program and became a high school English and special education teacher in the Bronx, and, later, in Brooklyn. In those roles, I supported the college counseling offices at each school, working with students from a variety of different backgrounds and learning abilities as they navigated the college admissions process. I then taught at an alternative school in Walla Walla, WA, where I helped students meet their high school graduation requirements and explore their educational futures. I have also worked as an independent tutor and college counselor, helping students carve out their unique educational paths to college or vocational programs. I have experience as a creative writer and editor, and I love working with students on their college essays.
Learn More About Vanessa
We’re bringing back our popular series, Meet an Admissions Counselor, where we introduce students and families to a different member of the College Coach admissions team. Drop in to see what we’re reading, where we went to school, and our strategies for beginning the college essay. As you work with us to find an educational consultant who best fits your needs or the needs of your child, we will help you consider the personality and working styles that will bring out the best in you or your student. Today we introduce Vanessa Garrido. Where are you from, where have you lived, and where do you live now? I’m originally from Los Angeles, and I’ve also lived in Orange County, CA; Zillah, WA; Portland, OR; New York, NY; and Walla Walla, WA. What are you reading, watching, and/or listening to lately?  I am currently reading Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and loving it. I’m also enjoying the latest seasons of Insecure and Succession. I’m listening to a lot of Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, and NPR. I ask Alexa to play some Jerry Rivera, Selena, or Chayanne when I feel like dancing. What do you do for fun or to relax? My favorite way to relax is to knit while watching a good TV show. I also love getting lost in novels, having dance parties with my family, and going to the beach whenever I possibly can. What are some of your interests—things that fascinate you or send you down internet rabbit holes, or things you love to learn more about? I love learning about different cultures and cultural practices. I’m also interested in art and art history, public health, and law (particularly family law, immigration law, and human rights law). Do you do any volunteer work? If so, what, and are there certain causes that are close to your heart? My young kiddos have kept me quite busy in the past few years and I haven’t had much time for volunteering. I am passionate about educational access for students from all backgrounds and learning abilities; accessible housing and healthcare for all; and immigrant rights. -- Where did you go to college? I attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon. I also attended Hunter College in New York City to earn my Masters. What did you study? I majored in anthropology at Reed. I loved my anthro courses, but I also loved taking lots of classes outside of my major: religion, English, creative writing, Spanish literature, political science, and linguistics courses were a few of my favorites. After Reed, I studied adolescent special education at Hunter. My courses at Hunter taught me so much about teaching and supporting students with different learning styles and abilities. What was your favorite thing about college? My favorite thing about college was connecting with students and professors who were truly passionate about learning and teaching. I felt this enthusiasm for learning in all my Reed courses. My peers and I were members of small conference classes, and we were expected to participate daily. I love how my courses nurtured the young educator in me. What about your college experience was different from what you expected? One thing that I didn’t expect from my college experience was that I’d be able to do work that I loved, inside and outside the classroom. Prior to college, I worked jobs that weren’t very fun (primarily in the food service industry). At Reed, I got do work that I loved: I was a research assistant for one of my favorite anthropology professors, and before that I had a coveted job working in the library. I also worked at the Print Shop with two incredibly sweet Reed employees, and I babysat for two professors who became like family to me. I felt privileged to do meaningful work as a Reed student and as a Reed employee. What would you say to your high school self if you could coach him/her through the research and application process? What would you have done differently? If I could coach myself through the college application process, I would encourage young Vanessa to visit more schools and ask more questions. I would empower her to dig deeper during the research process to get a more authentic understanding of her schools of interest. -- Where did you work in admissions and/or counseling? I worked in admissions at Reed College. I eventually became Director of Multicultural Recruitment at Reed. I then moved to New York and became a high school English and special education teacher, and I supported the college guidance offices at three different high schools. What aspect of the college admissions and/or counseling process do you most enjoy working on? I love helping students find their voice in the admission process. This often happens during the various stages of writing—while they are brainstorming ideas for their personal statements or figuring out how to frame a story. This can also happen when we explore their criteria for what makes an ideal college fit for them. How do you encourage students to look beyond the schools they know to find hidden gems? I encourage students to do their research and look beyond the rankings. Students have amazing online resources at their fingertips, and they should use them! Explore a college’s social media page. If possible, connect with current students during a college visit and ask them about their application process. Read up about a university you like in the Fiske Guide to Colleges, where you can find some suggestions for schools similar to ones you’re already interested in. Loren Pope’s Colleges That Change Lives is another great resource to find those hidden gems. What in your mind makes a good college essay? Good college essays are honest and deep. By “deep,” I don’t mean that students should feel inclined to write about something that seems objectively heavy or profound. In fact, gravitating towards “heavy” topics sometimes falls flat, while some of my favorite essays are on topics that may initially seem trivial. I mean that students should dig deeply into their own understanding of themselves to distill an important value or quality from the many traits that make them who they are. Once they clarify what perspective or trait they wish to convey (like their intellectual curiosity or empathy, for example), they can find an authentic way of sharing it with their readers. How would you describe your counseling style? My counseling style is based on empowerment and support. I listen carefully to my students, and I meet them where they’re at in their process. I enjoy using my experience to guide them through their college application journey, while celebrating their strengths and self-awareness. To learn more about Vanessa, visit her bio.

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