A Heartfelt Farewell

It has been the truest of pleasures to come to work at this place for the last 9 years. Best wishes JHU!

A little over a week ago I celebrated my 9th anniversary in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Johns Hopkins University. Sadly, that will be the last milestone I reach in my professional career here at Hopkins. At the end of this week I will enter Mason Hall on the Homewood campus for the final time as an employee. In one of the most difficult decisions I have made in my life, I have resigned my position as Associate Director of Admissions and accepted a new position as Director of Communications for the Office of Admission at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

I never really expected to be writing a farewell Hopkins Insider blog entry, but this summer I received a couldn’t miss professional opportunity that will enable me to take my admissions career in a new direction. Though I have immensely enjoyed being an admissions counselor, at this point in my career I want to focus more on my interests in communications and marketing. This new position allows me to remain in the field of higher education and still involved in issues of undergraduate admissions. My new primary focus will be on the development and delivery of a distinct and cohesive admission message for Emory via a multitude of communications platforms. In so many ways, I am able to take my career in this new direction because of the work I have done at Hopkins—and specifically this blog—and for that I am eternally grateful.

During my over 300 blog posts it is rare I share pictures of myself. With this final entry I thought I would share some of the more embarrassing photos of me from the past 9 years. Here is an interesting holiday pic.
During my over 300 blog posts it is rare I share pictures of myself. With this final entry I thought I would share some of the more embarrassing photos of me from the past 9 years. Here is an interesting holiday pic.

Saying farewell to my second home is not going to be easy. Since making my decision to move south there has been a lot of time to reflect. Such a big move professionally leads someone to look back at when it all started. Growing up I never dreamed of being a college admissions professional and even after graduating college it did not seem to be in the cards. But after disliking my first career choice I looked back on my college years and realized the most fun I had was being a campus tour guide. Then I began to look at my strengths and talk to people who knew me well and two themes became apparent. First, I was a good talker, and second I knew a lot about searching for the right college. So what started as an experiment back in January 1999 when I got my first admissions job has turned into a career, and one I truly love.

I was drawn to the cyclical tasks of a college admissions recruiter and evaluator: recruitment travel, on-campus programming, and application review. I got to use my talent as a strong speaker and I got to engage with the counseling aspect of the profession. As I transitioned to Hopkins I still had passion for these admissions roles but I also began to expand my connection to the areas of communications and marketing. While each year passed and an experiment in a new profession became a career, my reasons for enjoying this career evolved. Finally, in a reflective moment this past spring I realized the parts of my job that I initially was drawn too were not the same tasks that motivated me and therefore a change was needed.

Admissions_Shelly and I are so silly together.
Admissions_Shelly and I are so silly together.

The leadership at Hopkins has allowed me over the past nine years to experiment and explore greatly in the field of communications, especially as it relates to incorporating new media (a.k.a social media) platforms into the traditional recruitment and retention plan. This exploration began with the launch of this Hopkins Insider blog in December 2005, then blossomed with the expansion of Hopkins Interactive, and now represents one of the most comprehensive social media programs for a university in the nation. Nearly seven years ago I wrote in the first of my over 300 blog posts – Who and What is the Hopkins Insider?

The Hopkins Insider blog is one part of this new endeavor – consider it a behind-the-scenes look at how Admissions works at such a highly selective institution. Over the coming weeks and months, this blog will give you access into the often confusing and hidden operations of an Undergraduate Admissions office as well as provide you with a resource for asking questions. This will become your personal window into the application review process and you will become connected to the personalities that make up the Admissions selection committee.

I didn’t realize back then what I was starting would become a major component of the everyday work of a college admissions office. Admissions blogs that provide a transparent and accessible connection to the inner working of the selection process as well as other forms of social media outreach by formerly reclusive admissions staff is not only commonplace, but now expected. I am proud that we were ahead of the curve at Hopkins, and that as I depart for a new challenge I leave the Admissions Office with a true legacy and a game plan for remaining at the top of the heap.

Not happy about being forced to wear a crab hat, but happy that I am with some of the best SAAB students ever.
Not happy about being forced to wear a crab hat, but happy that I am with some of the best SAAB students ever.

The other component of reflection is what I will miss after my departure. This is much harder for me to write about as I will miss so much and thinking about that yields a ton of emotions. (Yes, tears will be shed as I write this.) I will miss the university and the community that exists at Homewood. Hopkins has a great advantage over so many other urban institutions in its physical location and design. The majesty of the Homewood campus breeds an engaged populace and caring community, and even as the campus has expanded during my tenure it is constantly reflecting on how to continue to connect community. (Just check out the new Brody Learning Commons.) I will miss the friendly nature of Homewood: from the people in Levering who always say hello when I go to get a sandwich or drink; to sitting in the Nest rooting on the Men’s Lacrosse team to victory; to the staff at PJ’s during Taco Tuesday; and to the Hop Cops who are always fun to chat with. I will also miss greatly the professional staff I have gotten to work so closely with outside of Mason Hall. There are so many passionate and intelligent members of the staff and faculty at Hopkins who aided me in my growth, stimulated me with their creativity, and taught me about the inner workings of a prestigious institution of higher education.

I had a serious crush on this cardboard cut-out of my former admissions colleague Amy Brokl. Strangely this is not a life-size replica of Amy as she is only about 5 feet tall.
I had a serious crush on this cardboard cut-out of my former admissions colleague Amy Brokl. Strangely this is not a life-size replica of Amy as she is only about 5 feet tall.

I will also greatly miss my colleagues in the Admissions Office. You all have become much more than colleagues. You are my friends. You are my mentors. You are the people who inspire and challenge me, and you are the people who have most enabled me to grow professionally. I will cherish so much from the experience we have shared, the lessons we have learned together, and all of our collective successes and failures. As I fear I will miss out on certain people, I do not want to single out any one individual in this blog but rather thank all of my colleagues past and present, as each and every one of you has left a mark on me personally and professionally.

I am really going to miss these people. We had a ton of wonderful moments in Mason Hall.
I am really going to miss these people. We had a ton of wonderful moments in Mason Hall.

It is also sad to leave behind the prospective community, the students and families I work with in on a daily basis educating them about Hopkins and assisting in navigating the sometimes confusing admissions selection process. Though this community changes year to year and I never really get to know these people in an in-depth way, I feel much of my enjoyment over the past nine years stems from the connections I have with prospective students and applicants. In my new job I will be working closely with a prospective community again, one that is quite similar, but my engagement will be different. I will miss visiting a high school and chatting with a small group of students about the humanities at Hopkins or how residence life works. I will miss standing in front of a thousand people at an Open House acting as a “cruise director,” providing advice on how to best navigate their day. I will miss using a bullhorn on Decker Quad during SOHOP, or driving a golf cart along St. Paul’s Street after midnight making sure everyone is safe. And I will greatly miss writing entries for this blog.

Now I come to the part of this farewell blog that I have been dreading; how do I say goodbye to “my kids”? I often use that phrase to describe the Student Admissions Advisory Board (SAAB), the group of Hopkins students I have advised and who have been instrumental in all things Hopkins Interactive related. When I started at Hopkins I never imagined that a group of current students making up an admissions volunteer group would be the most significant part of my job. But when I reflect the most significant memories tend to always involved SAABers past and present.

The Student Admissions Advisory Board (SAAB) when we began to hit our stride.
The Student Admissions Advisory Board (SAAB) when we began to hit our stride.

About a year and a half ago I posted a blog called the “SAAB Legacy” where I discussed the impact that a group of past SAABers had on me. I concluded that blog by writing:

These 13 special students have meant the world to me and I consider them in many ways my children. I will look after them for as long as I can, and will provide them with any assistance they ever need. They have inspired me, they have challenged me, they have made me laugh, they have made me cry, they have displayed true creativity, and they have in the end created something memorable and unique. They have kept me in the loop and allowed me to be a small part of their successes. They have left a true legacy.

By overseeing SAAB I have learned leadership skills, I have been challenged to make difficult decisions, I have managed diverse personalities, and I have developed cardinal organizational rules that assist in project management. I will be bringing all these skills with me to Emory and I know my experiences with SAAB will lead to success in my new endeavors. But I will also be bringing with me a collection of memories that I will reflect on when I need inspiration. (I really wish someone would create an actual Dumbledore pensieve as that would make this so much easier.) I hope “my kids” realize what they have meant to me and I hope the followers of Hopkins Interactive realize how uniquely special Hopkins students can be.

My final SAAB group photo ... I will miss "my kids" so much.
My final SAAB group photo ... I will miss "my kids" so much.

Some may read my emotions and not understand them because they see this just as a job and the natural progression of moving from one job to the next. However, this has never been just a job to me and the people I am leaving are my second family. I am eagerly anticipating this next professional challenge, but it is hard to close the book on my time at Hopkins. Though Hopkins is not my alma mater, I have spent nine years here and feel more of a connection to the Blue Jay community then I do to my actual alma mater. Despite moving on, I plan to continue to sing the praises of Johns Hopkins University and look forward to future events such as a hopeful lacrosse championship next Memorial Day.

One Hopkins-related item I surely will continue to follow while in Atlanta and encourage you all to do so as well is the Hopkins Insider blog. I am leaving the blog in truly capable hands and expect great entries in the future. There will now be four full-time Admissions bloggers who will continue to provide a personal window into the admissions process at Johns Hopkins University. But more so these four different personalities will cover a wide-range of issues and provide a more comprehensive array of topics than I was ever able to do back in the day. From Shannon you will learn from a seasoned admissions professional as she enters her eighth year at Hopkins. From Laurin and Ardi you will shadow the experiences of admissions counselors in their first professional year, who also both happen to be recent JHU graduates. And from Shelly you will hear from the main contributor to the Admissions Office’s current communications and marketing efforts. Truly capable hands!

It has been the truest of pleasures to come to work at this place for the last 9 years. Best wishes JHU!
It has been the truest of pleasures to come to work at this place for the last 9 years. Best wishes JHU!

When thinking of how to conclude this final blog entry, unfortunately, words fail me. I will just say thank you to everyone and you all will be sorely missed. I hope over the years I have assisted you, I have advised you, I have motivated you, and on occasion made you laugh.

Cheers!

My dog Soze has been a long-time mascot of the Hopkins Insider blog so I had to share one last photo of him. He will greatly miss Hopkins as well.
My dog Soze has been a long-time mascot of the Hopkins Insider blog so I had to share one last photo of him. He will greatly miss Hopkins as well.

12 thoughts on “A Heartfelt Farewell

  1. Daniel – What a milestone moment! I can hardly believe how far Hopkins Interactive and our e-recruiting platform has come from its first fledgling days and week in existence… Ten thousand thanks to you for sharing in your inimitable way what makes Johns Hopkins an extraordinarily exciting and special place. Your contributions have been thoughtful, impactful, and filled with meaning. Good luck and the best possible wishes go to you as you journey to Emory. :)

  2. Daniel, I started reading Hopkins Insider in my sophomore year of high school. I read it throughout my college search, and it was in no small part because of Hopkins Insider that I applied to Hopkins ED, and never looked back. I was reading this blog on December 15th, 2009 when I was accepted to this truly singular University. I read it up until my high school graduation and right on through that summer. I was a Hopkins Insider reader when Adam introduced me to you on my first day at Homewood, and I was an HI reader during my interview to SAAB and during my two years so far on board. At the outset of my Junior year at Hopkins, I am still reading. And if ever I find myself in Georgia, you’ll look up from an Information Session (or whatever), and there I’ll be–waving from the back of the room–just like old times. We’ll all miss you a great deal, but we’re also too proud of you to be sad. Best of luck, Daniel.

  3. Congrats Daniel! Starting the next chapter is always bittersweet and Emory is lucky to have you. Knock ’em dead! Best of luck :)

  4. I will most definitely miss you and your blog posts. I wish you much happiness and success at Emory.

  5. Daniel- Your presence in admissions has made my college experience that much greater. I can honestly say that I don’t think I would’ve found my niche on campus if it wasn’t for SAAB and all that you’ve guided me through in admissions. Once upon a time, you ended my blog winner notification email with “consider applying to SAAB,” and for that, I am eternally grateful. I wish you the best at Emory, and you’ll always be our Daddy D! :)

  6. Daniel, I thought about writing you a letter by hand, but you’re the king of social media…so I figured this was more appropriate. Thank you for you outstanding contributions to my alma mater, my former workplace and my personal and professional development. I can’t think of a single interaction I had with you that didn’t teach me something or at least leave me feeling good (and usually laughing). Precious few people have the opportunity to leave such a solid, lasting mark on the people they know and the places they work: you’ve done both, and for that I am forever grateful. Best of luck going forward. Emory better appreciate what they’re taking away from us.

  7. Daniel: I can only quote Joni Mitchell when thinking about you leaving: “don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone”………the quietness in the office when you are gone will be in direct contrast to the “loudness” of your laughter.
    Miss you already!
    Carole

  8. I have been quietly enjoying your blogs for the past 4 + years of my son’s college career at Hopkins. Although you will be missed by everyone, I want to wish you good luck in your new position at Emory! They are lucky to have you. Goodbye to Soze too : )

  9. I too have followed your blogs the past 5 years (two years during my son’s high school years and three years at Hop as he is a senior… yikes!) Thanks for all your posts. Your devotion to transparency in the stressful admissions environment and your commitment to providing information to prospective and current students has certainly enabled my son to seek out so many opportunities at Hopkins. Congrats and thanks for the final picture of Soze too.

  10. All right Daniel, I know you’re gone but I have a feeling you’ll still read Hopkins Insider and Interactive. :D I just submitted my Parent Blog using the instructions you sent me last month. I included with it the photo of you and Travis taken at SOHOP!

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