Meet Bobby Treviño, Director of College Counseling

Bobby stands next to college wallBobby Treviño attended Boston University, double-majoring in biochemistry & molecular biology and classical civilizations. While working in the admissions office at Boston University, he completed his M.Ed in policy, planning, and administration with a specialization in higher education. In 2011, Bobby became the Director of College Counseling at YES Prep Southeast and is a College-Readiness Leader for the district. We interviewed him about his path to YES Prep, why he works in college counseling, and his favorite YES Prep memory.

What was your path to YES Prep?

When I was an undergraduate student, I founded an organization called the Admissions Student Diversity Board. We worked alongside admissions officers to increase the number of underrepresented minorities at BU. When I became an admission officer after graduation, I served as an advisor for that organization, and after a few years I realized that my passion was working to help underserved populations gain access to education. Eventually, I moved up to be the Associate Director of Multicultural Recruitment.

At the same time as I was working to increase underrepresented minorities at BU, I was traveling to Texas to recruit students. I remember from my first visit with YES Prep students that I saw something you wouldn’t see anywhere else– a school of black and brown kids with a strong college-going identity. These students wanted to go to college, and they came to my presentation to learn about BU and about the college process. Over the course of my six years at BU, I witnessed YES Prep’s growth from 1 to 4 schools graduating seniors, so I built strong relationships with people at YES Prep who encouraged me to consider joining the team. In 2010, I interviewed for the Director of College Counseling position at Southeast and started in 2011.

Why have you stayed at YES Prep for 7 years?

I stay at YES Prep because of the families and students. I see myself in our students and I see my mom in our parents. I was a Latino kid from a low-income household. I didn’t have a college counselor that does what we do here. In my community, I was the exception to be going to a prestigious, predominantly white institution like BU. I’m so happy that I’m able to provide the support to our students that I didn’t have at school. At YES, every single kid— no matter their GPA or background— will hear “you can do it,” “you will go to college,” “you will graduate from college.” And all the teachers have the same shared mindset. That’s what is so unique and special about this place.

Why is your work at YES Prep important?

We are working to give our students that leg up. They’re never going to be their affluent, white peers– I don’t want them to be because they have their own wonderful identities– but we want to level the playing field and give them access to what they weren’t born into. Going to college is a very complicated process. Our kids are primarily first-generation students, which means that they can’t rely on their parents to help them along the process. There are over 4,000 colleges and universities and none of them are making it easier for our students to get there. This college requires five short essays, this one requires you to apply for their fly-in to be considered for admission, and this one wants you to interview in person. Our job is to get all that information and make the process simpler for our students, guiding them and their parents through the decision.

Why is it important to have more educators of color?

Because we are a college-preparatory charter school, there’s a misconception that our students automatically want to go to college. That’s not the case. A huge part of building a college-going identity is seeing someone who looks like you that has graduated from college and is working in a professional position like mine. Our student population is primarily Hispanic, and if they see a Hispanic man like me teaching or in a leadership position, it might help them see themselves in college. They might think, if he or she can do this, so can I.

What’s your favorite YES Prep memory?

It was my second year in this role, and I was reviewing a financial aid award letter with one of our students. She was a super hard-working student and for most of her senior year, she had to sleep on the couch because she had some extra family members living with her. We were crunching the numbers, and I showed her the amount she’d owe a semester. It was $100. She burst out crying. This was a college she’d always dreamt about going to and she just realized that she was going to be able to afford it. That college thankfully saw what we saw in her. This past December, she graduated from college with a Bachelor’s in hospital administration and has a great internship set up here in Houston. Even though I wasn’t able to attend her graduation, knowing that she achieved her goal of graduating from college is now my new favorite YES Prep memory.

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