New college advisor eager to assist, guide students with education path

Grace Cobb, Staff Writer

Who doesn’t need a little help in unchartered territory? If you are an upperclassmen with questions about college, the new college advisor Sophia Figueroa will be your new best friend.  Figueroa has joined the school’s faculty to aid senior and junior students through their last years of high school and through the doors of continuing education.

Figueroa comes to us from Wilmington, North Carolina, with a happy heart and an open mind to welcome all students. She attended E.A. Laney High School and went to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall of 2013. After changing her major four times, she graduated in the spring of 2017 with a degree in Public Policy and a minor in English.

During her undergraduate years, her mission was to open doors to postsecondary education by providing financial counseling, career guidance and test preparation courses. She sought a job that aligned with her passion of guiding young people toward higher education. Having known many people who had been college advisors through the Carolina Advising Corps, Figueroa longed to become an advisor.  She felt the position would give her the opportunity to help high school students who were unsure about their track in college, much like herself.   

“Since I knew many college advisors through the program, I could see myself helping high school students accomplish their college dreams myself,” Figueroa said.

Choosing where to start her career was simple. She coordinated North Carolina Renaissance and Project Uplift at UNC for prospective high school students. Speaking with previous advisors and listening to their experiences through her interview process, their stories helped her visualize being in the position herself. Dare County was her first choice because of her love for the coastal landscape and home-town feel.

“Once I got the offer for Dare County out of the other 57 possible locations, I was ecstatic. The job perfectly fit what I was looking for in a job right after graduation,” she said.

Setting the bar high for herself, Figueroa was determined to meet with every senior before the end of September to welcome and motivate them to apply early to college. She has gone above and beyond for students by being available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in her office in the media center and also at the Front Porch Cafe in Manteo from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Any seniors seeking assistance can go to her for reviewing college applications, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), completing the Residency Determination Service (RDS), register and prepare for the SAT and ACT tests  and resume building. As another support system, she is also available to meet with juniors to help prepare them for their senior year and provide information on which colleges may be the best fit for them.     

“We are really excited to have [Sophia] because [she] is just one more resource for seniors to double check up on everything and make sure everything is ready for college. She is also another resource for information that MHS staff and students are not already aware of,” guidance counselor Marie White said.   

Continuing with Figueroa’s goal, there are copious amounts of work to be done with applications since early action applications are due in the months of October and November.  FAFSA, SATs and ACTs are also a vital portion of the process. She has utilized the power of social media to connect to seniors by posting on Twitter when FAFSA first opened. In addition, she emails students when the last days were to register for the November SAT and when great community service opportunities arise.

Figueroa will be at the school for the next two years. She plans to assist the seniors in attending the college of their choice and also help make sure juniors are fully equipped with everything they need for their last year of high school.