Sheila’s Crazy Journey
Sheila Bogan is a 10th-grade advisor, the faculty advisor of Spectrum, Packer’s LGTBQ+ affinity group, and one of the faculty members that best exemplifies school spirit. However, Sheila is best known for being an amazing admissions officer who works hard every year to create the next best Packer grade possible. As much as she has helped Packer and its students, she cannot even count the number of times this community has been there for her.
Sheila never thought she would become an admissions officer. After graduating from Sacred Heart University with a degree in psychology, she lived in Providence, Rhode Island. Later on, she ran into a friend from college who was working in admissions at Sacred Heart, Sheila was encouraged to apply for a job at the university. She got the job and ended up falling in love with it.
Before coming to Packer, Sheila worked in admissions at a few more schools. When asked about how she discovered Packer, she laughed and said: “Well, it’s a funny story.” She goes on to talk about being an admissions officer at a small private school in New Hampshire. She decided to attend an admissions conference where she was approached by an admissions recruiter.
“He came up to me and said ‘You gotta leave! You’re too young! You can’t be there forever.’ I told him how I didn’t want to leave and how much I loved my job, to which he replied ‘Just give me a chance.’ I named five cities I would leave for and he got right to it,” Sheila said with a nostalgic tone.
After being presented with a plethora of schools she wasn’t ecstatic about, she was offered a job at a school in Providence. Before taking on the job, Sheila found herself butting heads with the school and decided to not move ahead with it. While walking home from that conflict, she received a voicemail from Packer’s Head of School Bruce Dennis. At the time, Sheila didn’t know who that was, but she knew he was from a school in New York City called “Packer.”
“I decided to contact my friend in New York City and she said to me ‘Oh my god, that’s it! Packer is absolutely the place for you!’ I decided to contact him back, we did a Skype interview, and then I got invited down for a second round,” she said. “When I entered the building, I felt that I wouldn’t have cared about whether I got the job or not, but when I left the building six hours later I knew that I needed to be here.”
Sheila has been an admissions officer at Packer for the past seven years. As great of a job as it has been, she’s been faced with many challenges throughout the course of her Packer career. The biggest obstacle has been the increasing volume of applications in both the Upper School and Middle School.
“When I started here, we were getting around 260 applications for ninth grade, and last year we got 450 applications. The sheer volume has just changed, yet it’s still just me and one other person interviewing. We also do middle school applications, which we get around 150 to 200 of every year with only a handful of spaces available.”
Although there have been many struggles along the way, she has made some very positive changes over the past few years. Sheila and other independent school admission officers have come together to make the application process easier for students applying to these schools.
“We change things like going to a completely online application for both the regular application and for financial aid. Also, I’m a part of a committee that comes up with new essay questions for all the applications to use so that it’s easier for the kids and they don’t have to write eight essays when applying to different high schools.”
Throughout the many challenges Sheila has faced, there is not one day she goes without feeling grateful for being involved in the Packer community. She has helped the Packer community so many ways, so when I asked her how much the Packer community has helped her, I was blown away by her answer.
“I literally couldn’t even begin,” she said with an excited expression on her face. “I remember walking down the hallway after the presidential election last year, and I just saw signs everywhere like ‘Dear LGBTQ students, your lives matter,’ and ‘Dear conservative students, your opinion matters too.’ I remember seeing this and just stopping and tearing up. That was when I couldn’t believe that I get to be a part of a community every day where students care so much about the people around them.”
Sheila appreciates this community every single day. From the moment she enters the building to the moment she steps out, she’s grateful for every second she gets to spend with Packer students. Before ending the interview, Sheila wanted to let everyone know just how much she cherishes the Packer community.
“There’s something about being a part of a community like this. Seeing all these students, I am just filled with pride and think to myself ‘Those are my kids!’ I know a lot of people in admissions who just do their job and that’s it, and I don’t want to be like that,” she said. “There’s no other school in New York City that I want to work in today. I walk down the halls and people give me high fives and ask me questions and advice and that’s huge to me. It’s what I wake up and live for every day. It’s awesome to be with you.”