Learn How This Texas A&M Adviser Met with All 541 of Her Seniors’ Families
When Texas A&M adviser Kitzia Soto learned that her school district required every student’s family to meet with a guidance counselor, she was thrilled.
That requirement showed that her district placed a strong value on family engagement — and it helped her meet with 100% of the families of her 541 seniors before the end of her first semester at Eisenhower High School in Houston.
Kitzia attributes her success to a supportive counseling staff, advice from her fellow advisers, and an ability to share her personal experiences with the families and students she supports.
Many of her students will be the first people in their families to go to college, just like Kitzia and her twin sister were. Their families are unfamiliar with the college application process, hesitant to send their children far from home, or unsure why attending college would be more beneficial than getting a job right after high school.
Kitzia listens to their experiences and shares her own. She shares that her parents didn’t want her to go to a school out of state, either. And she tells them what her own CAC adviser, Courtney Riley, told her as a senior at MacArthur High School: “You have the ability to go to college for free, and you’re not taking advantage of it.”
Courtney’s influence is a big reason why Kitzia went to college — and why she and her twin sister became CAC advisers.
“He had a really big impact on me,” she said. “I didn’t really know the whole college process. I didn’t know what school I wanted to go to, what I wanted to study.”
Channeling Courtney and using the personal connections she forms with her students’ families helps Kitzia achieve other goals, too. She planned a financial aid night and only 15 students — out of her more than 500 seniors — showed up.
“That’s when I started to realize: I need to do something about this,” she said. “I need to change.”
The problem, she learned, was the lack of an individual connection. When she started emailing and texting families one-on-one rather than having them come to an impersonal large-group session, she got a much better response.
“[When I had] a personal conversation, then I was able to relate to what they were talking about,” she said. “I talked about my personal experiences and got the parent to warm up to me.”
Using her own story to connect with families on a personal level is what has made — and will continue to make — Kitzia a successful adviser.