Kenyon's admissions team welcomes four new members
W hile the College's four new assistant directors of admissions come from vastly different backgrounds--and offer differing opinions about their jobs--they all have the same goal: to bring the best first-year class possible to Kenyon in the fall of 1998.
"Our office is just so varied in terms of personalities, but you need a variety of people in the office to attract and review applications," says Laura M. Weber '97.
In addition to Weber, Robert C. King '97, Daniel B. Sweeney III '97, and Angus "Kenzie" Young '92 have just finished the travel season as they tell tales from the road--and of what lies ahead.
A psychology major from inner-city Cleveland, Ohio, King has an enthusiasm for his job that he can hardly contain. His grin is contagious as he describes the students he meets while recruiting. "I feel like a have a peer relationship with the students I talk with," King says. "I can really relate to them."
He played football for three years at the College, performed in the 1995 and 1997 spring dance concerts, and became a founding member of Brothers United, a support group for African-American males at Kenyon. King was introduced to the College through the School-College Articulation Program, which helps prepare students--primarily from large inner-city schools in Cleveland and Columbus--for college.
A member of Kenyon's largest graduating class of minority students, he praises the College's strides in the area of difference. "I tell my young brothers at Kenyon to take advantage of all the resources the College has to offer," King says. "Those are resources that won't always be available to them."
His long-term career goal is to become a dean or president at an institution of higher education. King sees his job in the admissions office as a step toward that goal, but much like his colleagues, he is motivated by something less selfish. "A large reason I wanted this job is that my college years were critical for me," says King. "Coming from Cleveland, I'd hardly seen anything but the inner-city. The Kenyon experience allowed me to get one step closer to the meaningful purpose I want my life to be dedicated to, and no one can take that away from me. This is my chance to give back to the College some of what was given to me."
A native of New York City, Sweeney majored in history with a concentration in the Integrated Program in Humane Studies. Like King, he says he wants to dedicate himself to the College--dedication that can be sorely tested by the realities of admissions work. Sweeney hardly bats an eye, though, as he tells of sitting on a grounded plane for five hours, only to take a two-hour flight to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he missed a college fair. He is equally unruffled about a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, where twenty-two inches of snow caused a power outage in his hotel and the airline lost his luggage. "It's all a part of the job," he says.
Sweeney was active in th admissions office as a student interviewer and tour guide, and while he doesn't want to commit himself to a specific period as a member of the professional staff, he says he'd like to work in admissions for an extended time. "I've always liked the entire admission process," Sweeney says. "When you've been to Kenyon and you love it, like I do, it really comes across when you talk to prospective students."
With the travel season finished, he says he will begin reading early-decision applications with his colleagues. "We bring a lot of different opinions to the table, and our office has some very talented people," Sweeney says.
Weber, who is from Cincinnati, Ohio, majored in English and classics. She plans to work at Kenyon for a year and then enroll in a graduate program in English. "It's exciting to have a job where you can help Kenyon mold its future," she says.
Weber sees trends in the admissions offices at other college and universities that she's glad haven't taken hold at Kenyon. She says the process has taken on a much too business-like feel at other institutions. "Our approach is more intellectual," says Weber. "We're more caring and real. We believe in what we're doing, and our approach is more holistic, as opposed to just looking at the numbers and scores on an application."
Young, known as "Kenzie," grew up in New Jersey. His professional background stands out from his coworkers because he came to the office with more than five years of post-college work experience. At five different firms, Young held various positions in advertising, marketing, and public relations. His most recent position was with Trahan, Burden, and Charles Advertising in Baltimore, Maryland, where he was an assistant account executive.
Relocating from Buffalo, New York, to Washington, D.C., to Morristown, New Jersey, and finally landing in Baltimore was part of what prompted Young to come back to Kenyon. "I was disillusioned with the business world," he says. "I wanted some stability, and I didn't have the feeling I was making a difference in the lives of people. That's what I'm looking for, and that's what I think I can find here."
As Young begins to wax nostalgic about his college days, he realizes he stepped foot on Kenyon's campus as a first-year student ten years ago this fall. With fond memories and a bond to the College that's still strong, Young believes his job is an opportunity to make the dreams of young people come true.
"While I was in the working world, I saw too many people denied jobs because they didn't have a college degree," he says. "One of my goals is to find the resources to make it possible for all qualified students to attend Kenyon."
by John W. Anderson
Dean of Admissions
I 'm fascinated by the variety of ways in which applicants to Kenyon first learn of the College. For some, their first acquaintance comes through a traditional college information source: visiting a guidance counselor, talking with a teacher, attending a college night at their high school, perusing a college guidebook, or scanning college sites on the World Wide Web. Others stumble upon Kenyon in more unusual ways: picking up a copy of the Kenyon Review--and sometimes only later realizing that the Kenyon in Kenyon Review is actually a college, having a camp counselor who daily wore an oft-washed T-shirt with a faded "Kenyon College" just barely visible, or legally skipping gym class to attend an information session in the guidance office, not knowing or caring which college is presenting, only to fall in love with Kenyon after hearing the admissions officer's enthusiastic presentation. We categorize every contact and log them into our computer data base so we can trace every student's interest back to the original source. Last year, we counted eighty-three distinct types of first-information sources.
A potentially powerful information source for high-school students is Kenyon's nearly fifteen thousand alumni and current parents. This network, spread throughout every state in the nation and dozens of countries, stays well informed about the College and knows the personal and academic qualities that mark good Kenyon prospects. Recently, however, the potential has been greater than the product, as only a handful of students actually cite alumni or parents as one of their sources of information about the College. Last year, for example, alumni and parents steered just thirty-four applicants to Kenyon, eleven of whom enrolled in the Class of 2001. Another thirty-one applicants received letters of recommendation from alumni, thirteen of whom joined the entering class. These data suggest two things: judging by the conversion rate of applicant to enrolled student, referrals and recommendations from alumni and parents are effective, and there are many more alumni and parents out there who could help spread the word than are currently doing so.
To make referring students to Kenyon convenient and uncomplicated, we are trying something new: offering an easy-to-fill-out, postage-paid referral card. When I read a magazine I start by ripping out all those annoying inserted cards, and you might do the same. But after you rip, and before you toss, take a moment to think of some promising high-school student you know--a neighbor, the child of a coworker or friend, someone in your church or temple--and fill in his or her information. Drop the card in the mail and--Presto!--you have done something wonderful not only for the College but also for a prospective Kenyon student.
The Alumni Council has set a goal of doubling the number of referrals from alumni and current parents for the College's next first-year class. Please lend your support to this effort by suggesting a student's name to us by using the enclosed card, by calling the admissions office at 800-848-2468, by sending us a message via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by leaving a message for the admissions office on the Kenyon web page (www.kenyon.edu).
For multicultural affairs, Jamele Adams has goals as big as his title
D irector of multicultural affairs and assistant dean of students may seem an unwieldy title, but it does encompass the many duties--and the many talents--of Jamele Adams. Born and raised in Harlem, New York, "the city so nice, they named it twice--New York, New York," chortles Adams, he arrived in Gambier last summer, initially to fill the position of coordinator of multicultural affairs.
A 1994 graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Adams was pursuing a master's degree in higher education administration at Bowling Green State University when he was granted an assistantship at Ashland University. "I was a graduate assistant in the career development center and a residential director when I suggested the possibility of establishing an office dedicated to underrepresented students on campus," says Adams. "At the time, Ashland had no full-time operation of that kind."
The university approved the creation of the position, and Adams was hired as the director of minority student services. He put aside his master's degree studies for eighteen months so he could concentrate on solidifying the new department. "Since I was the pioneer of the program," he says, "I wanted to make sure everything went well." Then, shortly after resuming his studies, Adams learned of the job opening at Kenyon and applied.
"The most beautiful aspect of existence for me at Kenyon is the students," says Adams. "These students have a very strong commitment to their institution. They are proud, in every sense of the word, to be here. Even with any concerns they may have, they hold themselves true to being students at the College."
Adams finds the students singularly willing to embrace issues of diversity. "In comparison with many other institutions, where the students just don't care, the huge majority of Kenyon students, even if they don't totally understand, are aware of the need for diversity and appreciate the contributions it can make," he observes, noting that student interest is evidenced in the many organizations that exist and the level of participation in those groups.
"The students have been very supportive of me and the slogan I created for the office, Doing it with ESS' [pronounced Ease]," he says. The phrase has since been edited so that events are now tagged "OMA Goodness, Doing it with ESS Production" to indicate sponsorship by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Ethnic Events and Services (OMAESS).
While slogans are fun and increase the visibility of the office, Adams's goals are serious. "I'm very much in the habit of wanting to be a front-runner and top authority and professional in whatever I'm doing," he says. At Ashland, he saw his role as "making that office the premier office of service toward underrepresented students that there ever could be." Now, at Kenyon, "That's still my goal," he says. "I want to make our office the best office in Ohio, in the country. Thats where I get my will, my drive, and my energy."
Adams gets energy from the students as well. "I do what I do as the director because I have a passion for what I do," he says. "Oftentimes I don't look at it as a job, and that leads me to overcommit myself, but I'm at my best when the challenge is there." He finds that having an apartment in Norton Hall keeps him close to the students and their concerns.
"Jamele has brought a level of energy and enthusiasm to the Office of Multicultural Affairs that is inspiring," says Melissa L. Kravetz '99. "His commitment to all issues of diversity is refreshing and encouraging. He gives support to the students, not only in regard to their work with organizations but also in their academic lives."
For the future, Adams would like to see the Office of Multicultural Affairs play a larger role in the overall operation of the campus. He envisions the office being used as a resource, not only for the campus community but also for the larger Knox County area. Recently, he took a step in that direction, presenting a cultural awareness and sensitivity workshop-seminar at St. Luke's Catholic Church in Danville, Ohio. Additional plans include working with the alumni office to create an ethnic-alumni council and expanding the role of the Multicultural Council formed this year.
Ambition is defined as "goal, objective, aspiration, desire, dream, drive, enthusiasm, and zeal." Or we could define it as Jamele Adams, director of multicultural affairs and assistant dean of students.
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