Not Your Common College Counselors
“Congratulations, you have been accepted to ____”
Bright seniors, with fervent hopes of cultivating their minds and expanding their horizons, attend a college or university of their choice. However, without the help of Packer’s stellar college counselors, Nila Fortune, Lisa Shambaugh, and Loryn Evanoff, the process of getting into of getting into a senior’s top school would truly be difficult.
Nila, a fifteen year veteran at Packer, grew up in the New York City area and has been active in the field of education her whole life. After attending Vassar College for her bachelor’s degree and then Harvard University for her master’s degree in education, she began her career in teaching at various New York public schools. She realized she needed a shift in her environment, so she chose to look outside of New York City and ended up spending some time in Rome, Italy at St. Stephen’s School where she taught English.
After living abroad for a those two years, she knew it was time to come home, and she got a job at Packer as a 10th grade English teacher, and only a year and a half later became one of the school’s college counselors.
“I love college counseling,” said Nila with a smile on her face. “The work is really interesting. It’s a unique position where you get to really know students individually and learn about what is important to them academically and personally. You also get the see students in the context of their families and that is fascinating as well.”
While Nila is known for helping seniors power their way through senior year and giving them the extra push to start their supplements even after submitting their early application, she also loves cooking and reading recipes.
“I might knit something but that seems to happen less and less and I’d really like to learn Arabic.”
It is extremely difficult to help over thirty students get into college and even though “it is like going into hibernation from August to November,” she knows that the time and effort is worth it.
“The best part of college counseling is when the decisions return exactly the way the students want them to and they go off to the next place happy and excited about where they’ve landed,” said Nila.
While you may have spotted her bowling in the White House a couple years back, Lisa is a die-hard Knicks fan and current colleague of Nila and Loryn in Packer’s college counseling department. Lisa, also a New Yorker, started her career as a college counselor in California. However, after a decade of wanting to return to the Big Apple, she finally packed her bags and left the west coast, ultimately returning back to her hometown. She found a job on the Barnard college admissions board where she was happy with her role and was glad to finally be back among her fellow Knickerbockers. Realizing that she wanted to work more closely with students, she decided that her next job would be at a high school. When she visited Packer, she realized that it was similar to the school she worked at in California, but on the east coast.
Now at Packer for fifteen years, Lisa has seen a shift in the Packer student body.
“Certainly Packer is more competitive in terms of admission, so it’s a very talented student body,” said Lisa. “But what has shifted a lot is the college admissions process, and there are probably changes in the Packer students in response to that.”
Last, but definitely not least, Loryn, has been at Packer as a dean and has stepped in as a college counselor for the year. Prior to joining the Packer community, she worked at Poly Prep as a teacher in the English department. In her inaugural year as a college counselor, Loryn has been able to adjust to her new role with ease.
“I’ve had the support and guidance of Nila, Lisa, and Ms. Monzio every step of the way,” exclaimed Loryn.
On top of being the dean of the ninth grade, she also has to make sure her senior pupils get into the college of their choice.
“The best part of my occupation is the one on one time with students and families,” said Loryn. “As both a dean and a college counselor, I have had the opportunity to build wonderful relationships with people, and I cherish that. All of our kids are so, so incredible–hard working, interesting, generous people. It is a joy to celebrate that throughout the process.”
All the way from a small farm in northern New York, Loryn has definitely made an imprint on the Packer community in multiple roles.
“I couldn’t have done this without her,” “She helped me so much on my essay,” “She makes the process so much easier” are some of the messages that were given to their college counselors. With every senior getting into college in their respective careers, Nila, Lisa, and Loryn clearly succeed at their profession.