Empowerly Elite college counselor Jermaine deeply appreciates the transformative power of a great school in someone’s life. A multitalented intellectual, he specializes in supporting students who are interested in the humanities, STEM, social science research, merit scholarships, and artist performance, from his own background as a professional vocalist. As a counselor, he has used what he has learned to continue to support students by way of interview prep, essay editing, and leadership development.
Jermaine represents an extremely high caliber of mentor and counselor in the Empowerly community. We can’t wait to introduce you and get started!
This interview is Installment 11 in our Coffee with a Counselor series. To read more profiles like this, check out other posts right here on our blog and subscribe to our newsletter!
Jermaine is an Empowerly Elite college counselor and former Senior Admissions Officer at Columbia University. He graduated from Connecticut College with a B.S. and a certificate from the Holleran Center. He spent his early career working in the admissions office for Johns Hopkins SAIS and spent the vast part of his professional career in scholarship and collegiate admissions.
As a college counselor, Jermaine has helped students gain admission to top schools around the country. He also finds a lot of joy in connecting with ambitious students who are ready to explore new interests and utilize their resources to reach their goals!
How did you hear about Empowerly? How did you get started as a counselor in the first place?
“I had heard about Empowerly through a few students I was working with! I have spent time working in the Merit Scholarship field as well, so it was natural to hear about the program from those high-achieving students. I love working with students with a keen sense of drive and ambition, so I got into this work because it is invigorating and I know I would be a great asset to families!”
How one scholarship changed an entire trajectory
What experiences make Jermaine a great counselor?
“I believe one of the experiences that influenced my counseling style was gaining a scholarship that changed my trajectory—from attending one of the worst-ranked public schools in my state to working hard to gain a scholarship to a Quaker boarding school that instructed young minds from all over the world. I was really drawn to the teachings of the space that centered on community and caring for your fellow person. Beyond this, it was deeply engaging and humbling to meet such a wide range of people and their understanding. I am able to see such deep worth in many perspectives. My clients all have wonderful stories from all walks of life, so I have the capacity to embrace that deeply and bring it to life for admissions officers at many top universities.”
How would you describe your approach to counseling?
“My approach to counseling is centered on deep active listening to ensure that my students know that while I have unique insight into this process to offer them, their intelligence and efforts are seen and respected by me to the highest degree. I take my student’s goals seriously so I couple my style with very clear instructions and foundations to our conversations that keep us accountable on all aspects of the application!”
Do you have a particular student success story to share?
“My greatest success story as a counselor was with a student I worked with who was based in the SC region who was truly gifted in Biology and had a very intriguing interest in Monarch Butterfly Conservation. Of course, throughout our work, we were meeting those high academic standards and advising many of their other extracurricular interests; but this one in particular was different. They felt their interest in butterfly conservation and migration pathway disruption was so niche, but I encouraged them to journal about it due to her learning style as I thought it was something that we should explore where it may lead.
What it led to was her developing and getting funding for a mobile butterfly conservation unit! I was so impressed by how this took on a life of its own! Of course, their institution of choice, Columbia University, was thrilled to admit her. This is a student with a vision who is looking to contribute something to their community and their world. I consider this a success story because I had the pleasure of seeing her vision come to fruition and using the college admissions process to not only attend an amazing school but used the process itself to learn something really important about herself.”
What is something you’ve learned from your students?
“A few years ago, a student taught me a very impactful lesson in one of our touch bases: When aiming to accomplish something difficult and long-term, it is so important to reward yourself along the way. We see our goal as a carrot we are chasing but then we sometimes neglect all of the effort we have done so far. They were so right! I learned through them to honor my efforts along the way to the goal and you should too!”
One piece of advice you would tell students now?
“I would say that we as people are much more intentional than we know, so for people still figuring out what they want to study: definitely use a journal and seek out opportunities to understand yourself more deeply to nurture your natural intrigue to flesh out more of the person behind the application. As a former admissions officer, that work is invaluable because it is very clearly felt when a student has done this work on top of their other phenomenal accomplishments.”
What is a piece of life advice that has stuck with you?
“My friend said this to me, ‘When you are looking back at your life as an old man, what kinds of stories will you want to tell as you are laughing along with dear friends? Playing it safe won’t make for a good story. Dig in. Learn up. Strive for more.’”
The unique and brilliant counselor community at Empowerly understands the importance of each unique student’s journey. All you have to do is ask. Book a free consultation below to receive a customized recommendation for your college application plan.