Last May, the Class of 2023 closed out the year with a school record $14 million in scholarships for 75 students. Dr. Talia Pennington-Dorsey, the director of College Counseling, credits the students for much of the success, but the program she built in her first year at IWA must also be recognized.
Dr. Pennington-Dorsey says she structures the college application process around the "3 P's,"--passion, purpose, and plan. We visited with her recently to find out more about her process and predictions for this year.
1. What were keys to success of last year's results in College Counseling and scholarships? By graduation, 75 seniors had earned a total of $14 million in scholarships.
Dr. Pennington-Dorsey: Conversations and resources. As the new director of college counseling last year, I had to be intentional on building relationships with students early on. Before the end of September I had met with every senior one-on-one. I got a chance to connect with them, to learn more about them--their favorite sport, color, or even their favorite IWA memory up until senior year. My intention was to build trust so that they could trust me through the college admissions process. I was also very intentional about making sure the girls had resources. Those resources turned into dollars, which then turned into college matriculation without worrying how a family would pay for college.
2. What's projected for this year's group of seniors?
Dr. Pennington-Dorsey: The Class of 2024 is a phenomenal group who have already been making great strides--and we are just in the fourth week of school. Counselor Mrs. Amie Gray has done much work to help students discover their passions and purpose, so that we can develop an individual application plan. Sofia Galewski '24 was the first rising senior to take a dual enrollment class with Lone Star College during the summer. While she was taking classes, her classmates were being admitted into college. Whitney Bratton '24 has been admitted into the University of Mississippi. Jordan Fowler '24 has been admitted into Texas Tech University. Grace Oggero '24 has been admitted into the University of Mexico, and yesterday I learned that Hannah Richard '24 has been admitted into the University of Maine. All of this success--and we are just crossing over into September. So, I know the best is yet to come for the class of 2024!
Ray Dass is another exciting program happening at IWA in Math and English classes. Ray Dass is a test-prep program which prepares students for the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, PSAT 8/9. IWA had 6 Ray Dass Merit scholars who participated in an intensive summer long test prep program to prepare them for the upcoming PSAT/NMSQT.
3. What will be new this year for students?
Dr. Pennington-Dorsey: In the spring, the college counseling department is hopes to sponsor a Tour of Texas. The tour will give students the opportunity to visit several colleges within the State of Texas up close and in person. The girls will have a chance to see what colleges "look" and "feel" like and will allow them to picture themselves as students there.