Who Do You Listen to? Voices from near and far

By Sabrina Bong — When I was younger, I used to babysit for a little girl who went to my elementary school. One time, I remember asking her mother why she didn’t leave the older brother in charge.

She laughed a little and said, “She wouldn’t listen to her older brother. Who listens to their older siblings? But because you’re here, and you’re separate from the family, she’ll listen to you.”

It was a concept that I didn’t really understand until I was in high school. During those tumultuous teen years, I saw that I would usually listen to my friends and teachers over my parents. My parents could be saying the exact same things, but I would believe the person who was outside of my immediate family. It wasn’t necessarily because those people were easier to connect to; it was simply the fact that I was struggling to establish independence from my parents.

Looking back, it was pretty silly. Why did I not listen to my parents’ carefully thought-out advice the first time around?

The biggest example of this was when I first was accepted into Marquette. I met with Latrice Harris-Collins, who worked with the admissions department at the time. During our meeting, she asked me what I wanted to major in, my extracurriculars in high school, and whether or not I had started thinking about how to pay for Marquette. I told her that I had filled out my FAFSA form and that I had been applying to a few scholarships, but didn’t think much would come out of it. She smiled and pointed out a few scholarships that she thought I should apply to.

I think she sensed my hesitation because she said, “What have you got to lose? You may as well try.”

This was the exact same advice that my parents had given me, but for some reason, I believed Latrice more than my parents. Either way, I took her advice, worked hard, and received several scholarships from many different organizations, one of them being from Marquette.

I remember Latrice so well because she not only pushed me to try for the scholarships, but she had a very unique counseling style. During our meeting, she made sure that she talked to both Mom and to me. She even told my mom at one point that she wasn’t allowed to talk! I really appreciated that. Latrice made it known that I was an adult, and that though she appreciated my mother’s thoughts and opinions, she also wanted to hear directly from me. Latrice also refused to let me shrug off major responsibilities. She reminded me that no matter where I went, scholarships were available and important. I did not want to spend my entire life paying off student loans.

Knowing what I know now, I realize how much influence a counselor has on his or her students. We serve as a liaison between students and their parents. We can collaborate with parents to ensure that their student is getting the advice and encouragement they need. We can help steer students down a path that is right from them. It is my hope to be a counselor as encouraging and inspiring as Latrice … and to one day, impact someone as profoundly as she impacted me.

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