Advancing Admission

Sarah Aldag
Two Associate Deans Report in from the Field
As part of its commitment to providing greater accessibility and building as inclusive and diverse a community as possible, St. Paul’s School recently welcomed two remote associate deans of admission to deepen existing relationships where the School is already known and open new avenues in communities where the School is not as familiar. Fawn Boone P21, 23 was eager to develop new markets and strengthen established domestic markets in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut areas. Enrique Granados, a member of the Form of 2012, looked forward to introducing families in underrepresented areas of the country to the School. 
Their plans were in place, and then, the pandemic changed everything. Travel, school visits, and fairs are no longer part of the current mix of recruitment fare. Still, despite it all, Boone and Granados are demonstrating their resilience and connecting with prospective parents and students while helping inform the Admission Office on how the School invites, enrolls, and supports a diverse group of students.
The new officers took some time out to answer a few questions and provide their insights on what has changed about their expectations – and what has not.
How does the reality of your new role compare with what you envisioned in the days before the pandemic, which has limited so much of typical recruitment activities?
Fawn Boone: Well, my primary role was to travel, which obviously I cannot do now. I envisioned a fast and furious pace that I would have maintained to accomplish my goals within the short recruiting period, but the pandemic has allowed me the grace to learn at a slower and steady pace. This time has allowed me to feel connected to the entire SPS community despite the fact that I work from New Jersey. I am able to participate in events that would not have been possible due to the nature of my role. I am grateful for Zoom!
Enrique Granados: Naturally, a lot of my job requires hitting the pavements and logging many miles to find the next cohort of students. With the Covid-19 pandemic, we are not able to travel as much as we would have hoped this season. Instead, we are meeting parents and students by logging hours on Zoom. While most people might think there is an insurmountable distance, I have found that meeting families on Zoom can be really personal. You get to see a student in their home, where they are most comfortable. I can’t tell you how many new puppies I have met or different living rooms I have been in. Once we have a chance to go back to in-person recruiting, I think there will be a realignment of Admission recruitment priorities. Students will want to speak to someone in person, and the boost in attention on our digital platforms will increase our overall outreach to future families. 
What has surprised you in your new role?
FB:  I have been surprised by how everyone collaborates, not only in Millville but with the Ten Schools Admission Organization (TSAO) and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). It is great to be in this space at this time and to be able to contribute to the great work being done at our School with regard to DEI, cultural competency, and social-emotional wellness. 
EG: I think what has surprised me the most is how many different kinds of students are interested in the School. Many of them have already completed amazing projects or have amazing skills. It is bittersweet to think that we cannot take all of these outstanding students to be a part of our community. 
I have also been surprised that lots of students feel the fatigue and ache of staring at a screen for too long, as most adults do. A lot of students have come to realize how much they like actually going to school and how vast the differences between in-person education and all-digital coursework.
How does your personal experience with the School affect your work?
FB: My personal experience as a parent adds another level of authenticity to my work. I am able to share from the heart and not just my head.  
EG: As an alumnus, this work has a very personal connection. Some of my best friends and mentors have come from my experience at St. Paul’s. I am also very invested in this work that the School is doing to improve itself and the experience of its diverse community. I hope to find new groups of students that help to slowly but surely change the face of St. Paul’s School for the better. As a faculty member, I also hope to contribute my perspective as a student of color to our greater conversation. I often find myself reflecting on my time thinking, “How did I feel when I was in this position as a student?” or “What did I not share as a student that I can help share now as a faculty member that will improve the experience for the future generations to come?”
What gives you hope?
FB:  My faith and my belief in the inherent good in most people give me hope. 
EG: Being in admissions, there is a sense of delayed returns. You are trying to read into the development of the students as they currently are and trying to predict a positive experience for them on our campus. Meeting alumni often energizes me and gives me hope because they are the product of the good work that happens in the Admission Office. The younger generation gives me hope. As a member of the Form of 2012, I know that our generations are the future. It is the success of our St. Paul’s brothers and sisters that help guide my thoughts in all the ways we can make an impactful difference in our world. 
Is there something else you’d like to add?
FB: I would add that I will continue to be grateful, first for the exceptional educational opportunity that my two daughters were given upon their acceptances at SPS, and for the opportunity that I now have to add to the fabric of work that is being created today; it all starts where students are ushered in, Admission! 
EG: With the recent election of President-elect Joseph R. Biden, I am reminded that positive changes that will come to our country come on the backs of promises made to people of color, Black people, women, and the queer community all across our country. I am confident that the School’s future success and stability will also rest in supporting and lifting the voices of these very same groups. 
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