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College Advisers Redirect Lives of Thousands of High-Schoolers

Listen to the UVA Today Radio Show report on this story by Matt Kelly:

August 24, 2011 — This year, 21 University of Virginia graduates will influence the lives of hundreds of potential college students.

As members of the Virginia College Advising Corps, they will be stationed in the guidance offices of 19 high schools and three community colleges in Virginia, helping students who might not ordinarily consider going to college find their way to higher education.

Last year, Corps members met with 21,028 Virginia high school and community college students to discuss college. Of those, 2,573 completed applications to 4,301 schools – and 2,038 were accepted to a college or university.

"We are pleased with what has been accomplished," said Keith Roots, who directs the program. "Over the last five years, the guides have helped more than 6,000 students find the right college. We are looking forward to helping even more students over the next five years."

The Corps started at U.Va. in 2005 as the College Guides program and served as the model nationally in 2007 for the National College Advising Corps.

Many guides are themselves the first in their families to attend college, which helps them in their mission.

"These young men and women are highly dedicated to helping high school students have a brighter future," Roots said. "Many of these graduates are very similar to the students with whom they are working, having come from similar backgrounds and circumstances.

"Building on the model of what was started here, the program is now enhancing the futures of students around the country," he added. "We have been fortunate to attract some talented individuals. Several have decided to follow career paths in education as a result of their experience as College Guides."

This year's College Advising Corps members, all alumni of the College of Arts & Sciences, are:

• Katherine Asbury, 24, of Wytheville, who will be an adviser at Patrick Henry High School and Holston High School in Washington County. The daughter of Wes and Sara Asbury, she has a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's in public policy. She was a mentor in the Young Women Leaders Program and an English as a second language tutor.

• Selam Asihel, 22, of Falls Church, who will be an adviser at Northern Virginia Community College's Annandale campus. The daughter of Mana Mussie and Asihel Betsuamlak, she holds degrees in foreign affairs and sociology. While a student at U.Va., she was a Davis Peace Program Scholar  and a Harry F. Byrd Leadership Scholar, and received a Z Society Recognition Award, a Women's Lantern Society Award, a Lisa Sechrist Women's Award, a 100 Black Women's Humanitarian Scholarship and a Northern Virginia Delta Award Scholarship, and served a senior resident adviser.

• Rebeccah Chacon, 21, of Virginia Beach, who will be an adviser at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria. The daughter of Joe and Lisa Chacon, she has bachelors' degrees in foreign affairs and religious studies. She was the vice president for chapter relations and standards for Alpha Chi Omega sorority and vice president of operations and founding member of Hoos Ready.

• Lucy Ann Dowell-Wiltshire, 22, of Charlottesville, who will return as an adviser to Skyline High School in Front Royal. The daughter of Frances Ann Dowell and George Davis Wiltshire III, she has a degree in history with a minor in Italian. She was president and social vice president of the Alpha Phi Omega co-ed service fraternity, and a peer adviser and outreach liaison for U.Va.'s International Studies Office.

• Toria L. Edmonds-Howell, 22, of Richmond, who will be an adviser at Armstrong High School in her hometown. The daughter of Torey J. Edmonds and Lawrence M. Howell, she has degrees in English and African-American studies. She was a mentor in the Young Women's Leadership Program, an "America Reads" English as a second language tutor, a contributor to Pride magazine and a member of the Organization of African Students.

• Joseph François-Ashbrook, 21, of Alexandria, who will be an adviser at Bassett High School in Henry County. The son of Darryl François and Margaret Ashbrook, he has degrees in foreign affairs and history. While a student at U.Va. he was a peer adviser for the Office of African-American Affairs and was on the dean's list.

• Morgan Ganoe, 21, of New Market, who will be an adviser at Dan River and Tunstall high schools in Pittsylvania County. The daughter of Julia Ganoe, she has degrees in American studies and sociology. While at U.Va., she sailed on Semester at Sea's 2009 summer voyage.

• Theresa Gentile, 23, of Fredericksburg, who will return as an adviser at Northern Virginia Community College's Alexandria campus. The daughter of Dawn and Ronald Gentile, she has degrees in government and psychology and was membership vice president of the Alpha Phi Omega co-ed community service fraternity, and was a participant in St. Baldrick's Foundation events in 2009 and the event co-coordinator in 2010.

• Morgan E. Gibson, 22, of Danville, who will be an adviser at Chatham and Gretna high schools in Pittsylvania County. The daughter of Don and Jayne Gibson, she has degrees in history and studies in women and gender and while she was at U.Va. she was a resident adviser.

• Kristen M. Greer, 23, of Richmond, who will be an adviser at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville. The daughter of Jeanne and Steve Greer, she has a degree in English and while at U.Va. she was on the dean's list.

• Whitney Hawkins, 23, of Waynesboro, who will return as an adviser at Fluvanna County High School. The daughter of Richard and Deborah Hawkins, she graduated with distinction with a degree in environmental science. A Jefferson Scholar, Echols Scholar and Lawn resident, she served as president of the Theta Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity. She served as the Theta Chapter president and Alternative Spring Break president, and she received the Alpha Phi Omega Leadership Award. She also logged more than 1,000 hours as a University Transit System bus driver.

• Leidra Danielle Hickson, 22, of Lynchburg, who will be an adviser at Martinsville High School in Henry County. Daughter of Frank and Meesha Hickson, she has a degree in sociology with a minor in religious studies. While a student at U.Va., she was a University Achievement Scholar and a P.U.M.P.K.I.N. Society Honoree.

• Tiffany Hope, 23, of Stafford, who will return as an adviser at Armstrong High School in Richmond. The daughter of Anderson and Roberta Hope, she has a degree in religious studies. While a student at U.Va., she was a resident adviser, an executive board member of the University Dance Club, and a charter member of 'Hoos for Open Access, a group dedicated to increasing socio-economic diversity at U.Va and promoting AccessUVa, the University's financial aid program.

• Olivia A. Hudson, 21, of Roseland, who will be an adviser at Nelson County High School. The daughter of Sharon and Milton Hudson, she has degrees in African- American studies and English. While at U.Va., she was publicity co-chair for 'Hoos for Open Access.

• Lauren Laskey, 22, of Cherry Hill, N.J., who will be an adviser at Patrick County High School. The daughter of Kim and John Laskey, she has a degree in environmental science and was vice president of the University Democrats.

• Elizabeth Menter, 23, of Virginia Beach, will return as an adviser at Orange County High School. The daughter of Robert and Susan Menter, she has a degree in religious studies. While a student at U.Va. she was treasurer of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity; a family support intern and interpreter services intern at the International Rescue Committee; a trainer and public relations committee member of the University Transit Service; and an Alternative Spring Break participant.

• Jessica Poindexter, 22, of Louisa, who will be an adviser at Louisa County High School. The daughter of Jack and Bellinda Poindexter, she has a bachelor's degree in history, which she earned in 3½ years, and was on the dean's list.

• Reshaud Rich, 24, of Norfolk, who returns as an adviser at Charlottesville High School. The son of Clemi Rich, he has a degree in sociology. While a student at U.Va., he was a co-founder of Financial Literacy for Youth, a Career Peer Educator, the service chair of Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity, and the Inter-Greek Council representative to the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

• Nitika Sethi, 23, of Oakton, who will return to William Monroe High School in Stanardsville. The daughter of Rajeev and Sarita Sethi, she holds degrees in Spanish and foreign affairs. While a student at U.Va., she was the social chair of the U.Va. Art Museum Docents and started an independent student organization, College Access for Everyone, at Charlottesville High School.

• Devin Underhill, 21, of Fairfield, Conn., who will be an adviser at Magna Vista High School in Henry County. The son of Stefan and Mary Pat Underhill, he has a degree in interdisciplinary studies, concentrating on socioeconomic class and culture. He was an Echols Scholar and a member of the Raven Society, the University Guide Service and One in Four. He also was vice chair for moderators of Sustained Dialogue, and was on the dean's list.

• Thurman M. Winfrey Jr., 23, of Paterson, N.J., will return as an adviser at George Washington High School in Danville. The son of Faith and Thurman Winfrey, he has a degree in history. As a student at U.Va., he conducted a comparative study on newspapers covering civil rights issues in the 1960s, and was a volunteer with Computers4Kids in Charlottesville.

-- by Matt Kelly

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