Captain’s Log…err I meant President’s Blog

Captain’s Log…err I meant President’s Blog

I have never picked a word of the year for myself, but this year I did. I have been fortunate to see some very cool things come together in a few different arenas and they all have a common theme. It caused me to stop and look for a word that best describes it and reaching back to my German roots, I found gestalt. OK, not the prettiest of words and it rolls off the tongue more like an uncontrollable sneeze, but the meaning for me is spot-on. Here is Google’s simple definition.




an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.

To me, it speaks to how much more powerful and impactful we can be when we break down the silos in which we live and work and join forces.

I attended the CollegeBoard’s Western Regional Forum last month with other aid professionals, college admissions counselors, college faculty, and high school counselors and administrators. I was struck by how interesting and different a PPY discussion became with high school counselors in the room. The mixed group, yet all working to the same end, seemed to gel nicely in that setting.

I am a member of CSU’s Transition Coordinating Committee which consists of leaders from across campus with the single focus of ensuring a smooth transition from high school to college for under-represented students. We have always tried our best on our own, but as an organized group, we have actually been able to move the needle on retention and persistence with these students.

Last Friday, Sylvia Martinez and I delivered award letters to CSU-admitted students at Adams City High School. We have been working closely with the counselors and administrators at ACHS to make CSU a reality for as many students as possible and again, it was an organized effort that spurred the most students we have ever had admitted from ACHS. We could have continued to do things on our own while the high school staff did their things on their own, but I am convinced that it was the partnership that took it to a whole new level.

A gestalt is also the goal of our upcoming conference. I am excited for the opportunity to better connect with high school counselors to gain a deeper understanding of their work and for them to gain a deeper understanding of our work. If we are successful in organizing Colorado’s high school through college FAFSA completion efforts under PPY, there is no doubt in my mind that we will make postsecondary education a reality for far more students. It will also take some intention, which is next up on my word-of-the-year list.

Hope to see you all in Crested Butte in May!