Jacinda Ojeda, Emerson’s senior assistant admission director, got her start as a tour guide at her own college and continued on the admissions career path after a short stint in the corporate world. She came to Emerson just over a year ago, after working at University of Pennsylvania and Stonehill College. In her short time at the College, she has been instrumental in improving and updating the school’s visitor center and its programs.
Ojeda, a native of Scarborough, Maine, was the first person in her family to go to college. Her passion for admissions began during her own college decision-making journey when she toured schools. She chose Muhlenberg College, a small liberal arts school in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and worked as a tour guide and in the admissions office there. After graduating, Ojeda went into sales and marketing for a year. The 9-5 grind paid the bills, she said, but wasn’t fulfilling or exciting. Ojeda decided to revisit her passion for college admissions.
“At first I wasn’t sure if my motivations for wanting to work in admissions were because I was a little afraid to leave college or whether I really wanted it as a career,” Ojeda said. The year working in the corporate world made her realize that college admission was the right path for her.
The visitor center at Emerson is the face of Emerson to potential students and their families. Ojeda takes the importance of that first impression to heart. Aside from making the visitor center comfortable and welcoming, she works on larger initiatives to improve the visit experience at Emerson.
The project Ojeda is most proud of is changing the roles of Student Admission Representatives, or “STARs.” Originally, all students in the STAR program worked both as tour guides and as office assistants in the Admissions Office. Ojeda said working in both roles stretched the students too thin. Additionally, some students were more suited to one job than the other. Ojeda took on this project as soon as she started at Emerson. Fellow admission counselor Victoria Rosa said, “[Ojeda] hit the ground running and did a great job making the transition work for the students.” Ojeda admitted that it wasn’t easy to make such a big change, but in the end it improved things for the students and for visitors.
Rebecca Smith is a STAR whose job was adjusted because of the transition. She said the changes made life easier for student employees. “It’s made our job a lot more manageable in terms of the amount of information we need to know.”
Ojeda is also working on a self-guided tour for visitors who come at off-hours when tour guides are scarce.
Updating the visitor center’s programs is only part of Ojeda’s job. As an admission counselor, she has the crucial responsibilities of visiting high schools around the country as an ambassador for Emerson and reading hundreds of applications. Emerson received 7,400 applications last year, which are divided among approximately 10 admission counselors.
“Life as an admission counselor is really interesting because you spend one or two months in the fall on the road, talking to families and students and guidance counselors all day long about Emerson,” said Ojeda. “Then you go home and it’s like you go into hibernation because you’re reading applications from November to early March. It’s a total one-eighty.”
Meeting high school students in person, then getting a glimpse into the lives of the ones who apply, and then seeing what they accomplish if and when they come to Emerson is truly rewarding, she said.
“It’s exciting to envision what’s going to happen once we give this student [who is applying to Emerson] really great camera equipment instead of a Flip cam. Or once this writer has access to the faculty that we have here. What these 17-year-olds are going to be able to accomplish by the time they graduate is really amazing.”