The Power of an Adviser-Student Relationship


Tristen Kelly (left) and Teresa Isensee (right) pictured at Edison High’s graduation.

Our advisers are changing lives. With the guidance of Teresa Isensee of the Trinity University College Advising Corps, Tristen Kelly graduated from Edison High School and is headed for Texas A&M University, where he will be the first in his family to attend college. Teresa “pushed [Tristen] to live out [his] potential, to attain the seemingly unattainable.” Teresa’s work with Tristen was not an isolated incident. This year, she held 2,625 one-on-one meetings and met with 100% of her seniors. 98% of her seniors submitted at least one college application. Below, please read a Q&A with Tristen about his experience working with Teresa.

When did you first meet with your College Advising Corps adviser, Ms. Isensee?

I first came into the guiding presence of Ms. Isensee when I went to the Go Center, our career center, at the beginning of the year to sign up for the SAT and ACT. Ms. Isensee helped me register for the tests. That was the beginning of her invaluable assistance in helping me achieve my dream of going to college.

Please describe your relationship with Ms. Isensee.

I was living on my own for an extended period of time only had was myself to keep me pushing toward my goals. I struggled a lot financially, having to support myself and pay for the daily, weekly, and monthly amenities that most teens never have to worry about. I worked hard every day, never having a day off. I was simply trying to survive and consistently losing valuable time in the workforce, rather than being in school. I didn’t focus on my future at all. I was getting lost in the present, putting my long-term goals to the side. Ms. Isensee was the one person who kept me on track and assisted me time after time, never giving up on me, and always pushing me to want more for myself. I am so grateful to have had the chance to be under her wing. I can never thank her enough.

How did Ms. Isensee support you through your college application process?

Ms. Isensee kept me aware of scholarship opportunities and my fast-approaching future. She was always encouraging me to finish my scholarship applications. She kept me up to date with deadlines and reminded me many times as these stressful dates approached. I had no idea about anything college-related. Both of my parents barely graduated high school, so this whole process was completely new to me. I had no one to look up to; nobody to help me get the answers I needed. She helped me through every application and always had an answer or helped me find an answer to any question I had. She pushed me to live out my potential, to always attain the seemingly unattainable.

How did she inspire a college-going culture at your school?

Ms. Isensee was always helping my fellow classmates, never running out of hope for us and always being a light in what, at times, can be a dark tunnel of chaos. If she was not busy with a student, she worked on bringing more to the Go Center. I found myself oftentimes being summoned to the Go Center just so she could check up on me and give me more opportunities. She was friendly towards everyone and was willing to lend a helping hand for any and all. She pushed everyone to complete their financial aid application and showed those without a vision of their future how far they could go if they only applied themselves. Her hopefulness was contagious, so much so that I no longer feared my future; I was living for it.

What has been your most memorable experience with your adviser?

My most memorable experience would have to be the night of my graduation party. I had not planned on throwing a big graduation party. I was only expecting a few friends and family to come. My mom made invitations for me to hand out; of course, I had to give one to Ms. Isensee because she was my biggest supporter throughout the year, the benefactor of my future. The night started, and it began by pouring rivers of rain. I was doubtful that many people would be able to show up. My family and family friends were there, and the rain continued to pour. But to my surprise, Ms. Isensee showed up. I was so happy to see her. I introduced her to my family, and they were ever so thankful for her having come into my life. It was a pleasure watching as my family interacted with the one woman who gave me the final push across the finish line to go to college. I know they will never understand to the fullest extent just how much one person can affect the outcome of a life. The hours were filled with laughter, music, dancing, and reminiscing. The weather was terrible, but the night was great.

Which school will you be attending next year?

I will be attending Texas A&M University, and I plan to major in architectural engineering.  Gig ‘em!