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Lee Capristo
Director of Publications
Email: lwcapristo@smcm.edu
Anne Arundel 100

Living Out of a Suitcase --- A College Recruiter's Life

Written by Tricia Realbuto, Assistant Admissions Director

Tricia Realbuto traveled back to her high school alma mater on Cape Cod to recruit students for St. Mary's. Photo by Allison Johnson

As admissions counselor, my job this past fall was to crisscross New England in search of high school students who will be a good fit for St. Mary's College.

Since I am from Massachusetts, I was extremely excited to visit my home turf. I felt that I could better understand concerns these students might have about attending school in Maryland. I also knew that if they came to visit our campus they would see how much like New England and "home" it is.

Eight weeks, 70+ high school visits, 15 college fairs, and over 6,000 miles on the rental car later, I had talked with hundreds of perspective students and their families.

One school I visited was my alma mater, Nauset Regional High School on Cape Cod. Dee Smith, the head guidance counselor at Nauset, showed me how much had changed since I had graduated, including a new workout center and football field. I then ran into my old field hockey coach and we reminisced about the past. It all took me back to the high school version of myself. Just seven years ago, I was walking that campus with many worries. Where will I go to college? What will I study, who will I be?

Those moments helped me realize the importance of my job. It is not just about recruiting and looking at applications, it is about counseling students. It is helping them envision themselves in a place where they will learn and grow, and what it might be like to look outside the area they grew up in.

Although I can only speak from my own experience, leaving New England can be tough. There is such a strong sense of community and a lot of pride to be from there. But I can honestly say I appreciate it that much more since I moved. Explaining that to a 17 year old is not the easiest task, but I feel the visit to my high school and my travel season have given me time to reflect on how I was feeling and how high school students are now feeling.

It also gave me a newfound love for St. Mary's. When I completed my recruiting trip and returned to Southern Maryland, I was so excited to drive down Route 5 and see the beautiful waterfront and campus. Although I had just spent eight weeks at "home" in New England, I now know I also feel at home here. I hope I was able to express that to perspective students and their families.