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2017 Scholar Story from Mabadjam Katawa

How the International ACAC Scholar Program Influenced My Life
and Facilitated Opportunities for Togolese Highly Talented Students


As a high school English teacher in northern Togo, my main job has been to teach the English as a second language to Francophone high school students. My journey to counseling and career guidance began when I started looking for ways to bring my support to highly talented, low-income students who often end up dropping out or sometimes attending universities not up to their caliber because of the lack of financial support. I have personally experienced how hard it is to access higher education. I had to stop my studies from time to time to work and get money before going back to campus. And after finally completing my Bachelor’s degree in English with a focus on African literature, I wanted to continue for Master’s and doctoral studies, but was quickly impeded by the lack of financial resources. The little money I could make from my hard work outside school, which I used to pay my school fees and university tuition, could no longer cover all the other expenses (books, room rental, mobile phone airtime and data, etc.). 

I became an English language teacher because I wanted people in my community to learn the English language and be exposed to many opportunities around the world. After I had become a teacher, I looked for ways to help the highly talented students access higher education. I started looking for opportunities online. It took me lots of time and money to buy internet connectivity every day. At first, I had no idea about how the university application processes worked outside of Togo, nor about the different requirements for accessing universities in the USA, UK, Canada, etc. I did not know how to write a strong letter of recommendation or how to guide my students when it comes to writing a good application essay. Google was my teacher and trainer. I downloaded and read sample recommendation letters and sample application essays, I read about the processes and tried to write my own essays, and then coached my students. 

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Survey Results are In!



Survey Results are In! A Look at the Member Survey

In late April International ACAC polled its members to help advise the executive board on crucial challenges facing our organization.  An analysis of the three major questions we posed is provided below.

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President’s Corner: Reflection, Discourse, and Disruption

President’s Corner:  Reflection, Discourse, and Disruption
September, 2019

Hello from Silicon Valley, 

Tonight while I write, I cannot help but think about the daily fast pace, innovation, and distribution that surrounds me here in Santa Clara, California. As we often work as an institution to remind our students and one another to slow down, let go, love, and to see beauty in all, I am using my own advice to tackle the year ahead. 

As a new travel season for many admission officers has begun with typhoons, hurricanes, protesters, traffic jams, missed appointments, and middle seats, we must remember self-care and safety. I can attest that the beauty in this time of year are the hugs hello or meals shared between members across the world as travels, high school visits, and fairs bring us together. Counselors have been greeted with increased anxiety around the college admission process, ongoing testing challenges, changes in school schedules or course offerings, and learning new software platforms for their daily work in supporting students. The information shared during visits and fairs, the Facebook group’s activity, and Webinar Wednesdays strengthens our membership’s professional development support for one another. It is our relationships that offer calm and purpose during this hectic time. 

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Last May, International ACAC members nominated colleagues for the three awards that annually honor leaders in our field. These include the Distinguished Service Award, the Rising Star Award, and the Peter Hauet Lifetime Achievement Award. This year the awards went to three inspiring individuals who have made significant contributions to International ACAC over the years.

Sam Jeong from UWC Changshu, China was selected for the International ACAC Rising Star Award. Sam was recognized for his work with the International ACAC Scholar Cohort and his innovative idea to have students nominate their counselors as scholars. He writes, "Thanks to International ACAC for this tremendous honor! I am still reeling. The idea to have students nominate their former counselors for the International ACAC Scholars program came to me after a particularly intense conversation with a student. She told me that the only reason she was studying in China was because her former teacher—not counselor— back in her home country had pushed her to believe in herself.  As someone who grew up in the public school system in South Korea and Seattle, I realize that the vast majority of secondary schools in the world do not have a college counseling program.

I would go as far as to argue that the profession was created to serve the already privileged and savvy children of highly educated parents with the means to send their kids to an expensive private institution. So, in a way, serving on the Inclusion, Access, and Success committee has been an avenue for me to push back against the system and also to recognize and celebrate the educators working with high-achieving, low-income students who often volunteer to be college counselors on top of their regular professions. The 2019 International ACAC Scholars, who I had the privilege of meeting and befriending as a part of the orientation team, are humble, curious, kind, selfless, and above all, deeply committed to the success of each student they serve. They are a force to be reckoned with.  

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First Nations

First Nations

Indigenous Peoples is a collective term to reference the Original Peoples of Turtle Island (also known as North America).

In Canada, there are many different Indigenous Peoples (or Nations) with distinct territories, languages, histories, ways of knowing and spiritual beliefs who have survived ongoing settler colonial governments’ attempts to eradicate, assimilate and dispossess them of their lands for over hundreds of years.

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8 Amazing Activities on Western's Campus!

8 Amazing Activities on Western's Campus!

Want to know what the students of Western University are up too during the year?  Western University has one of the most beautiful campuses in Canada and is home to some of the most eventful Western Mustang activities. Check out these amazing activities and food spots on campus during your stay at the Conference this Summer to see how it feels to be a Western Mustang!


  1. Bagels at the Spoke

    The Spoke is one of the most popular restaurants and cafes on campus. Situated within the University Community Centre (UCC), the Spoke offers the infamous ‘Spoke Bagels’ which melt in your mouth every single time. One cannot go wrong while choosing a bagel since they have many different options spanning from the ‘cheddar herb bagel’ with ‘herb and garlic cream cheese’ or the ‘BLT’ on a ‘jalapeno cheddar bagel’. The students love picking one up early in the morning before class or for their lunch time break. They even made personality types with your favourite bagel. Read more about it here on the Western Gazette:

    Don’t forget to stop at the Spoke to grab your personalized bagel during the conference!


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Diversity Initiative to Launch at Summer Conference

Differences challenge assumptions.

- Anne Wilson Schaef

How can I identify my deep-seated assumptions and unconscious biases?  Do I have the tools to understand my relationship to my culture? Can I make sense of how I relate to people of other cultures?  How do I gauge my intercultural competence and enhance it? How can I grow in my ability to engage with diversity I encounter in my life, my workplace, and within our professional association?  How can we work towards recognizing and celebrating diversity within International ACAC and how can we make ours a truly inclusive organization?

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11 Activities and Restaurants to visit in London Ontario

11 Activities and Restaurants to Visit in London, Ontario

  1. Covent Garden Market
  • The market is comprised of an indoor and outdoor market with locally grown food from farmers within the area. The outdoor market takes place every Saturday from 8:00am – 1:00pm. Open since 1845, the Covent Garden Market has many unique shops and over 20 restaurants.
  • Check out more information on their website
  • 30 King Street



  1. Rock the Park
  • Rock the Park is an annual music concert held at Harris Park in London, Ontario from July 10th to 13th. Come out and listen to live music from pop, rap and country music.
  • Check out more information about the event at


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Social Media Tips For Your Next Conference

The Case for Social Media

By Kelley Ferrante  &  Aaron Andersen
National ACAC            University of British Columbia

The world we live in is drastically influenced by social media. Social media for business and at conferences is no different. Here are some tips to encourage the use of social media at #IntlACAC19 !

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How to Win in Dodgeball 2019

How to Win in Dodgeball
at least look cool trying

By Tracey Grimm
Lincoln School, Costa Rica


It can be said, in no uncertain terms, that the International ACAC Dodgeball Tournament is a highlight of the annual conference. What started with only 12 rag-tag teams at the TCU conference in July of 2006 has morphed into the epicenter of entertainment for higher ed folks and college counselors alike. Seriously, where else will you find cow costumes aplenty, David Zutautas on the mic and a gaggle of overly-competitive Jesuit university reps eager to trash talk anyone who mentions the fact that they were out in 1st round last year? 

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Your Voice Will Be Heard

Your Voice Will Be Heard

by Sherrie Huan

Not on American Idol. Not in a Karaoke room, but through voting.


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International ACAC Executive Board Applications Now Open!


International ACAC Executive Board Applications Now Open!  

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….

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From Scrapped Scholarships to Designing Dreams

Remember the highly talented Nepali students whose scholarships were revoked this past April due to an administrative oversight? Here’s an update on how they’re doing:

Students have made their first attempts at carving pumpkins, and experienced their first snowfall. Some have built rockets in the desert for an Embry-Riddle course project and nearly all have found on-campus work. Roman Shrestha at U of Denver says, “I’m so happy to share that I got appointed as a lab assistant for my Chemistry professor. It is a great feeling to start my freshman year with this position.”

On the other side of the globe, the students at SUNY Korea are amazed at Korean efficiency as they watched a whole football field constructed within days. Students at NW Qatar are testing their journalism skills and sharing their stories, including this one by Krishna Sharma. Shashwat Maharjan just won Central Michigan University’s American Mathematics Society’s Annual Integration Bee - as a freshman!  

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Chatter That Matters December 2018

Chatter That Matters, December 2018 

Though the Trump Administration is not moving forward with a proposed ban on visas for Chinese students at American schools, it is pursuing a change in rules to limit the amount of time a student can stay on a visa.The status quo is that student visas are valid for the “duration of status,” meaning as long as the program of study lasts. The administration has not specified how long the time limits would be.

The University of Birmingham will begin to accept the Gaokao, meaning students who score at least 80% on the exam, as well as meeting other criteria, including English proficiency, will be eligible for direct admission without a Foundation year. This is part of a broader trend of Anglophone universities using the Gaokao as part of the admissions process.


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President’s Corner : Celebrating Success & Looking Ahead

President’s Corner : Celebrating Success & Looking Ahead
by Aaron Andersen, International ACAC President


Yesterday in my ‘day job’ at University of British Columbia, we
took time away from the regular work and routine to gather for
our yearly Staff Retreat. This year we took particular time to
focus on Celebration. It reminded me, that all too often, many
of us naturally focus on the stress and pressures of our day, and
do not take time to celebrate our successes.

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NACAC and International ACAC: How we work together!

NACAC and International ACAC: How we work together

Did you know...

International ACAC is an affiliate of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). NACAC has guided the evolution of college admission counseling into a recognized profession since its founding in 1937, and over the years has issued charters to affiliates—23 currently—that share a common mission to serve and support the needs of the admission counseling professionals and the students they serve. NACAC and its affiliates work together to broaden geographic representation through partnership programs, activities, and operations.

As Ronn Beck, director of international recruitment and admission at Salve Regina University (CT), recounts:

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Getting Involved with International ACAC

Getting Involved with International ACAC

by Johanna Fishbein, Past-President, International ACAC

We always tell our students that it’s important they get involved in their community; whether that’s service, activities, sports, and much more - universities value involvement. Well... we at International ACAC feel the same way; we want our members involved!

We fully recognize that time is not something readily available, so there are many different ways to get involved - some that require much more of a time commitment than others. In February of 2018 we held a webinar on Getting Involved with International ACAC which you can access here. As we look to 2019, here are some ways you can consider getting involved:

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Benefits of Board Service

Getting Involved: The Benefits of Board Service

by Kristin Dreazen, President (2016-2017)

As a brand-new international admissions counsellor in 2001, I had no idea what to expect when I went to my first OACAC Conference at Clark University. I had been to other ACAC conferences but, leaving campus after that week, I knew that OACAC was something really special. I was welcomed and made to be ‘part of the family’ and those members I met all those years ago are still mentors and friends.  Since then, what is now International ACAC contributed so much to my own personal and professional development that when the opportunity to give back in the form of Board service presented itself, I felt compelled to get involved.

Being part of the incredible – and ever-changing - group of people that makes up the Executive Board, first as a Delegate and then as part of the Presidential Team, was an amazing experience.  I gained a deeper understanding of the Association and the membership – now, so different than when I joined; was given the opportunity to shape the future direction of the work done on behalf of the members; and had the privilege to represent their voices in NACAC’s Assembly as it debated and voted on matters dealing with commission-based agents and the revamp of the SPGP (among other things).   

Having finished my service on the Board just a few short months ago, it’s still hard to quantify exactly what it has meant but in the short term, I am grateful for the time spent in conversation and at work with such a smart, dynamic, hard-working, and collegial group of colleagues on the Board. 

Admissions Practices Committee In Depth

Admissions Practices Committee In Depth

In the past few months you may have heard a lot about the NACAC and International ACAC Admissions Practices (AP) Committee. So how does this whole AP thing work? Our wonderful Vice President of Admissions Practices, John Wilkerson, has written a blog post to explain it all! We hope you, the membership, will find this helpful and as always, if you have any questions, let us know! Happy reading. - Johanna Fishbein, President of International ACAC

International ACAC members’ commitment to ethical and principled conduct in our work is regularly displayed.  As massive shifts in global dialog unfold, and civil discourse and behavior are often less prevalent among influential world leaders, the importance of conducting our work with integrity and reliability cannot be overstated. 

Late last year, the NACAC legislative assembly unanimously agreed to adopt a new incarnation of the Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP).  Now titled, SPGP: NACAC’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practices (SPGP: CEPP), the standards of consideration and behavior set forth in the new document provide clearer guidance and increased transparency regarding the ethics and governance of the work of association members.   As a membership organization, the code of conduct and the bylaws that govern them are written by and voted upon by NACAC members. 

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Review Updates to our ByLaws

Review Updates to our Bylaws

Approximately every three years, the Executive Board reviews and, in many cases, recommends updates and amendments to the International ACAC Bylaws.  This year we undertook this process and will be presenting an amended bylaw document at the General Membership Meeting in New Orleans on Wednesday, July 11. 

You can see the amended Bylaw document here.  We offer a few notes on the changes you’ll see:

  • Many fall under the area of ‘clean-up’:  fixing spacing and formatting, listing VPs and committees in alphabetical order, making sure that we are consistent in the use of names and titles across the document (and the International ACAC Policies and Procedures).
  • All references to NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP) are updated to reflect the new document’s name:  Statement of Principles of Good Practice:  NACAC’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.
  • The Standing Committee list is updated to include the Professional Development Committee.
  • Updated the names of two Vice Presidents and the corresponding Committees to better reflect the work they do.
  • Amended Article VII, Section 13, regarding the removal of an Executive Board member to align with laws governing not-for-profit organizations in the Commonwealth of Virginia (where we are incorporated).
  • Added Article XI, Section 1b, regarding the calling of special meetings, at the suggestion of NACAC.

Prior to the meeting in New Orleans, we invite members to read through the proposed changes and contribute to the public feedback period, which will close on July 6

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