Danita Salone is not just our new Associate Director of College Counseling, she is also our “biggest cheerleader”.
Ms. Salone started work at St. Andrew’s in July, and immediately started helping seniors with college admissions.
She said that her role is to “provide information, resources, and I support not only the student, but their family through the college application process.” She said that often entails “talking to students and helping them identify different characteristics about themselves.”
Ms. Salone also emphasized the importance of being a good listener during this often frustrating process and in the midst of the toughest years in high school, “it’s really counseling them because they have lives outside of this. And so it’s making sure that I’m a good listener.”
Having previously worked in college admissions for 14 years, most recently as an Associate Director of Admission at the University of Richmond and as Associate Director of College Counseling at Sidwell Friends School, Ms. Salone knows the ins and outs of what colleges want to see from students.
As she puts it, “They want to know who you are as a person … it’s not just about grades, it is about who you are and how we can best translate that to colleges and universities”.
The college counseling office and its new head, Mr. Jonathan Gerelus, have to stay informed and up-to-date about the nature of undergraduate admissions as they evolve for each specific college and university, and constantly evaluate their practices.
According to Ms. Salone, no year is similar to the previous year when it comes to college counseling, but that is because the landscape of college admissions itself has changed. For example a big change in recent years is that many schools are now test optional. But whatever changes on the college admissions side, the counseling office will always take an extremely personalized approach to the college search.
So what convinced Ms. Salone to take her talents to St. Andrew’s? Well, it had a lot to do with her work-life balance and being able to settle in one place without having to travel so much to recruit students for college admissions.
“Most important to me was maintaining the interaction with students, because the support for students and their families is what fulfills me,” said Ms. Salone.
She also said that St. Andrew’s aligned with her values of ” nurturing the entire person” and “building relationships.”
“One can have a mission statement,” said Ms. Salone. “But is the organization living that mission? I found that here at St. Andrew’s.”
In terms of the people at St. Andrew’s, Ms. Salone remarked on how the faculty, staff, and student’s friendliness is “coming from a genuine place here”. Just like Mr. Caceres, Ms. Salone loves that students stop by just to say ‘hi’ and introduce themselves.
Ms. Salone enjoys walking with her 13-year-old Shitzu poodle and reading, although she “doesn’t get very far” as “when I try to start reading, I fall asleep”. She recently read Viola Davis’ book Finding Me, and “was enthralled and just completely captivated by it”.
Ms. Salone is a huge Marvel movie fan and comes from a family of sci-fi loving Star Trek fans. She is learning Polish but is totally fluent in Spanish and spent a year in high school living and studying abroad with a host family in Culiacán, Sinaloa, which is in northern Mexico.
She loves getting to know people in general and their backgrounds. “It just helps me find ways to connect to people,” she said.
Henry Freytag ’24