With the start of the school year comes the daunting tasks, for many of the seniors, of requesting recommendation letters, writing essays and filling out college applications. While the college application process can be stressful and overwhelming, the College Counselor Andrea Rusk wants students to know she is here to help.
“I will give you a way to get there,” Rusk said. “It might not be the way that you had planned, but there is a way. There is always a way.”
Growing up in a small rural town in Wisconsin, Rusk did not have a college counselor to guide her through the difficult and stressful process. Since she did not have that extra help, Rusk gives credit to her family for helping her through the process.
“My mom actually went to college while I was in middle school, so I got to see her do that process, which was really neat and very inspiring for me,” Rusk said.
Rusk started her job at MHS in 2011 as a school counselor. She said she noticed there wasn’t too much of a college counseling program back then and wanted to change that, so she helped create the College and Career Resource Center. She added the creation of the CCRC is one of her favorite memories she associates with working at MHS.
In 2016, she officially became a college counselor at MHS and built the college advising program from there.
“I took it from being very minimal with a couple evening events to a program running during the day,” she said.
She has also helped to build the program by providing information about colleges and events through email blasts, the school’s website and social media accounts. Other staff members applaud her for this communication push.
“It’s really easy for students to be aware of what’s happening in the CCRC because of all the promotion that [Rusk] does,” said Melissa Schaefer, AP psychology teacher and director of the AVID program.
The Literacy Center Specialist Hope Babowice also acknowledged how important Rusk’s role is at the school.
“[College counselors] can provide the individual care for students at any grade level to help guide them through this very difficult process, but more importantly, to help each individual student create an after high school goal,” Babowice said.
Rusk has created her own scheduling website that allows students to schedule advising appointments with her. She also has her own office space so that she can mentor students through the career and college process, which can include personal and sensitive student content.
“I think she makes it so incredibly easy to go in and get help,” senior Jori Oztunguc said. “You can walk in or wait for her whenever you have free time or if you don’t have someone at home or around to help you.”
Rusk graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was involved in different student groups, took part in study abroad programs and student taught.
“I was a chair in the student government, and I studied abroad about three times during college,” Rusk said. “I spent a full semester in Ecuador along with summers in Mexico and Guatemala. Then, I did my student teaching.”
Being in the education field, Rusk said the students are her favorite part of her job.
“It is entirely honest and true: when a student comes and tells me they’ve gotten into the school that they want to go to, I get so excited; I almost cry every time,” Rusk said. “It makes me so happy for you all.”