Westminster welcomes new college counselor

Westminster, known for its academic excellence, had all 200 members of the class of 2015 admitted into college this fall. It is an understatement to say that this is due to the incredible and diligent work of the College Counseling Program and its staff. In this new 2016 school semester, the program welcomed a seasoned expert, who has worked in admissions departments and college counseling at several institutions, as a new member of the team: Juan Acosta.

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Acosta attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he earned his BA in Political Science with a Correlate Sequence in Italian.  Later, he received his Master of Education in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. From 2002 to 2005, he was an admission counselor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 2006 to 2007, he was a Graduate Assistant at his alma mater, University of Pennsylvania where he worked with their Upward Bound Program. Until this year, he has been the Associate Director of College Guidance at Saint Andrews School in Boca Raton, Florida. As of the start of the 2016 school year, Acosta is bringing his vast knowledge of the realm of college admission to Westminster.

“I’ve always known of Westminster, from my time in college admissions and from friends in college and colleagues from my previous school who had attended Westminster,” said Acosta. “I’ve always known of the outstanding reputation our school carried and when a position became available, it was something I knew I had to explore.”

Reflecting on the path his counseling career took, Acosta explained why he chose to come to Westminster.

“What sealed the deal for me, however, was my visit to campus,” said Acosta. “From the moment I walked through Adams Gate, I knew that this was a place I wanted to call home. My colleagues at the College Counseling Office (whom I’ve known for years, and who I always looked up to), faculty, and all the students I’ve met in these first few months have reinforced that I made the right decision.”

In the next five years Acosta says he hopes to learn and grow from his interactions with the colleagues and students he will be working with on a daily.

“I hope to foster strong relationships with others at Westminster and to represent the college counseling office and our school well,” said Acosta.

Recently moving from Florida to Atlanta, Acosta enjoys spending his free time exploring the city.

“Being fairly new to Atlanta, most of my free time has been spent exploring the different areas of town, and the many awesome restaurants this town has to offer,” said Acosta. “That aside, I enjoy a good workout, a good movie, and traveling as often as I can.”

It is safe to say having Acosta on the college admissions team will prove to be an asset for the juniors and senior lucky enough to work with him.

Another exciting development in the realm of college admissions is that the National Association for College Admission Counseling just elected a new president, and she is none other than Westminster’s own Nancy Beane, college counseling. Attracting the attention of such a large organization of 15,000 members, Beane’s résumé had to be very compelling. Having taught every single grade except for eighth, Beane began her illustrious teaching career in public schools and worked in the public school system for 15 years.

“I started teaching social studies, including U.S History and Sociology, in Wilmington, NC, right after graduating from college as a part of the Master of Arts in Teaching program at UNC-Chapel Hill,” said Beane. “After being there three years, I moved to Durham, NC, where my husband was in law school at Duke and taught sixth grade for three years in an inner city elementary school.”

Beane reflected on her early teaching years that built the foundation to her continuous and current success.

“I taught every subject there but art and library and had the same students all day without any planning period,” said Beane. “My students ranged in age from 11 to 14 and in reading ability from pre-kindergarten to ninth grade.”

From Durham, Beane moved to Houston, TX, where she taught fifth grade in another elementary school for three years and then first grade for a year.  After moving back to North Carolina and then to Atlanta, she started teaching at Lakeshore High School in Fulton County and was there for three years.

“I loved every minute of teaching World History and African History and also finished an Education Specialist Degree in Broad-Field Social Studies at Georgia State University,” said Beane. “My last year in public schools was at Westlake High School where I taught the same subjects I had taught at Lakeshore.”

In 1989, Beane finally came to Westminster with excitement and enthusiasm to teach high school students.

“I came to Westminster where I taught various courses, including History of the Ancient World, Intro to History, U.S. History, and AP U.S. History through the years until last year when it was decided that we would no longer teach,” said Beane. “I’m in my 28th year at Westminster and started doing college counseling 25 years ago.  I also coached JV Football and Basketball Cheerleaders for the first three years I was here.”

Shown through her prestigious position as president of the NACAC, Beane’s love and passion for teaching were cultivated from humble beginnings and never cease to inspire her colleagues and students.

“I honestly knew absolutely nothing about college counseling when I started doing this job in 1992 for all the girls in the class of 1993,” said Beane. “At that time, there were only two college counselors, and one had all the girls and the other had all the guys.  Leon Scott, grandfather of Emma Scott (Class of 2016) counseled all the guys, and he and Joyce Suber, my predecessor, helped me to get my feet on the ground. Since I had taught many of the girls and knew them well, I was able to concentrate on learning what I needed to do to help them in the college process.”

As the college admissions season is rolling in, seniors on campus are becoming more anxious and stressed with the piles of college applications ahead of them. Having been through the process several times throughout her career, Beane offered students her advice.

“Take a deep breath,” said Beane. “Be who you are, take advantage of opportunities to expand your horizons, find ways to demonstrate your passion, believe in yourself, and treat everyone (peers, adults, etc.) with great respect.  Don’t let the college process define you. It’s one brief period of your life, and it won’t determine it positively or negatively unless you let it.  Resolve to give your best and live life to the fullest in responsible ways.”

As Beane takes on more responsibilities as president of NACAC, she will continue to provide guidance for dozens of Westminster seniors as they navigate a challenging and rewarding part of their lives.