Erica Espejo

Erica Espejo, '11 MA, School of Education, Master of Arts in Counseling

What have you done that you are proud of?

I'm very proud of the fact that I founded the College Week Live Professional Development series within my first year working for the college readiness company. Known for their live admissions Q&A events, CollegeWeekLive now provides services for school counselors, including online webinars that provide contact hours towards professional development. The topics revolve around college readiness and admissions. I am fortunate to work with guest presenters from the U.S. Department of Education, NCAA, ACT, and more.

Additionally, my LMU background has encouraged me to search for topics and resources that would help underrepresented populations. Such webinar topics have included best practices for "dreamer" students, students with special needs, LGBTQ students, and more. I search for topics relevant to what's going on in the current social and political climate and social justice topics that affect us all. I'm very proud that this free service for school counselors has been going on for almost two years. Not many counselors can afford the time and money to travel to professional development conferences or make it to all the sessions. This service we provide allows counselors to receive training and stay up to date on current topics in college readiness and preparedness.

How has your work made an impact on your community, school, agency, classroom, clients or students?

In addition to providing professional development resources, CollegeWeekLive also allows counselors and educators to request colleges to do a live Q&A chat with students via the High School Connect (HSC) program. When I first started with CollegeWeekLive, I was assigned to work with West Coast territories. Now, I work with the entire country and some international schools. My counseling background made it easy to talk to counselors and educators about understanding the value of our free college readiness resources. Essentially, counselors can have students chat online with admissions reps across the country.

Schools in rural areas, like the Inland Empire, can chat online with colleges on the East Coast, or a school in Orange County can have 8th and 9th graders begin to build relationships with UC's and CSU's so they can learn what they can do now to become the best qualified students. I have worked with a dozen California schools as well as a handful of high schools across the country to get them on board with our online chat services. We even encourage graduate students in fieldwork programs to utilize our resources! In a way, I feel that HSC can bring students and colleges closer beyond the admissions rep presentation. The beauty of HSC is that it's flexible; we encourage all grade levels to try it out! Here's a demo link, narrated and edited by me!

What evidence can you share that demonstrates this impact?

As someone who manages a nationwide and international territory, I have had 46 successful online chats in the Spring 2015 semester alone. More and more counselors are continuing to express their interest in using High School Connect (HSC) in Fall 2015. In regards to professional development, I had over 800+ in attendance for our NCAA presentation. The presentation covered the new NCAA Eligibility Center; not many college guidance counselors are aware of resources for scholar athletes. This presentation was CollegeWeekLive's single largest attended live event. Additionally, because of popular topics in the professional development series, I brought in over 1,400 new counselor registrants to our database, increasing our reach and building our relevancy. I have also had 80+ middle school students from Central California have online chats with UC Santa Barbara showing that our resources can be used for middle school audiences.