Earlier this month, Dr. Amy Radovcic, the College and Career Counselor at Nathaniel Narbonne High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), died at the young age of 36 from complications of lupus. In her short life, she changed tens of thousands of lives as she worked tirelessly to promote college access and success as the sole College and Career Counselor at Narbonne. For the past 10 years, Amy served more than 3,500 students per year.
I met Amy two years ago at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce’s Cash For College fall event, where I was giving a workshop on reasons to go away to college. After the workshop, which was partially filled with dozens of students from her school, Amy came up and thanked me for my workshop and also for my website providing free resources for first generation college-going students like hers. We exchanged cards, and I began to research her work, as I am on a lifelong quest to find effective school-based college counseling models.
I soon learned that I should be the one thanking Amy, aka Dr. Rad. As the one college and career counselor at her very diverse high school, Amy was a beacon of light in a district, where the large majority of college counselors have been laid off or reassigned. It takes a village to inspire under-represented students to go to college, and Amy was a warrior in her position.
Not only did Amy run an active college center, but she also organized a cadre of college peer counselors, offered an active website with college readiness and scholarship resources, used a wide-range of social media to reach her students, gave year-long workshops in classrooms and in the community, and promoted four year college matriculation through field trips, college visits, and alumni visits. Understanding that financing college was a challenge for most of her students, she ran many financial aid workshops and established the Equality and Social Justice Scholarship Fund for students at her school.
Committed to helping the diverse, low-income students at her school realize the power of academic and economic success, Amy in 2010 earned a Doctorate Degree in Education from Loyola Marymount by writing a dissertation on social injustices in education. At her school, she knew she could not work alone, so she worked closely with teachers, parents, and community members to establish a strong college-going culture.
Amy was active in LAUSD’s south region, where school counselors regularly meet to share best practices. Amy was indefatigable in her work, and despite being the only college counselor at her school, revealed the power of having dedicated college counselors in each LAUSD high school. At schools across LAUSD, there are few specific college counselors remaining, and the ones who still hold these coveted, incredibly impactful positions are serving incredibly large student: counselor ratios.
As LAUSD begins to rebuild after the economic turndown and simultaneously implements the new A-G college graduation requirements, it should heed the legacy of Dr. Amy Radovcic and place college counselors in its schools at ratios much lower than the one she worked with for ten years. Thankfully, another wonderful counselor has taken over the work of college counselor at Narbonne.
Please support school-based college counselors, who like Amy, are worth their weight in gold. Also please honor Dr. Amy Radovcic’s memory and donate to her Equality and Social Justice Scholarship Fund. http://www.narbonnehsgauchos.com/. Amy will be missed, but her legacy will last forever.
By Rebecca Joseph