After a two year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, SUNY Broome’s Enrollment Management division returned to hosting the annual School Counselor Brunch on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. School Counselors from across the region gathered with members of SUNY Broome’s campus community at the Culinary & Event Center to share information, collaborate on future partnerships, and to take a much needed break to reflect on two of the most intense and uncertain years in the history of education. 

Dr. Kevin E. Drumm, President of SUNY Broome, and Dr. Penny Haynes, Vice President for Academic Affairs, welcomed the dozens of school counselors in attendance and thanked them for their unwavering commitment to serving the students of the community and for helping hundreds of students redirect their plans to begin their collegiate education at SUNY Broome. 

“If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything in the world of higher education, it is that college plans can change… by the minute. I know that you all are equally as familiar with those last minute changes and I want to personally thank you for your constant support of the students of our community throughout this entire ordeal…Your actions and words of reassurance and encouragement during such an unprecedented time will never be forgotten by the students that you served and by your partners at SUNY Broome,” said Dr. Drumm.

Director of Admissions, Maja Szostak, and Enrollment Management Staff Associate, Brittney Richardson, co-emceed the event. Together they provided a comprehensive overview of all of the changes in admissions requirements and orientation programming. They also featured the new academic advising model implemented by the Academic Services Department. Sharing some designated time with the region’s school counselors is one of the highlights of Szostak’s year. 

“Together, there is such a great effort between the school counselors and the team at SUNY Broome to get the students of our community prepared for and excited about college. Throughout the year, we communicate constantly via phone and email, but it’s not the same as coming together as a group, to enjoy a meal together, and to collaborate on a wonderful upcoming year of potential partnerships,” shared Szostak. 

The most recent data (for Broome County) shows that just over 20% of the county’s graduating seniors enrolled at SUNY Broome this past fall. While 20% is certainly a solid number, everyone present at the School Counselor Brunch would love to see that number grow. Growth can be achieved through continuing to develop relationship-based events like “College Express Partnership” with Windsor High School. This partnership created a streamlined process that allowed the entirety of Windsor’s senior class to apply and be accepted to SUNY Broome en masse and on-site at the high school. Both Dr. Drumm and Ms. Szostak encouraged the counselors present at the brunch to consider creating similar partnerships at their respective schools. 

For school counselor, Becky Martino of Vestal High School, visiting the now complete Culinary & Event Center was a true treat. For many of the counselors present, including Martino, their last experience on campus pre-pandemic was the 2019 School Counselor Brunch, where guests in attendance toured the then heavily under construction CEC. 

“I’m very excited to be here and see all the updates. It’s such a beautiful building! Mostly, I’m excited to go back and tell my students about it, my colleagues about it, the parents in the community about it, and my administrators,” said Martino.

While most assume that the summer months are quiet for SUNY Broome’s Admissions Office and for our partners at our local high schools, it’s quite the opposite. The next few months will be spent sharing transcripts, scheduling advising appointments, and helping students confirm their scholarships and financial aid. The School Counselor Brunch often serves as the calm before the storm of proms, graduations, and finalizing college enrollment plans. 

“This time together is just a really awesome event experience for everybody. I’m so happy to be with SUNY Broome again! They’re amazing! The counselors and all the staff at SUNY Broome are so helpful to us and always have so many things that are evolving and changing to help our students and our community. I’m so happy to be back with them in person and to get new information to share,” said Martino.