Kristy Balbuena has over a decade of higher education experience. First working for Marymount University in admissions, she found herself most enjoying her time assisting transfer students and soon made the jump to Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). At NOVA, Kristy has worked as an international student advisor, taught both English Composition and College Success Skills (including piloting a learning community of the two courses and an honors version of College Success Skills), and currently works as a Retention Counselor for the Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program. Kristy assists Pathway students while they attend NOVA with academic, transfer, career, and life skills, particularly enjoying her work with the under-performing and highest-achieving students. Kristy has presented at NASPA, NACADA, and NAFSA national conferences; her joint presentation, “Leaving the Tribe for an American Experience” won NAFSA’s Best of Region VIII award in 2006. She earned her B.A. in both English and Communications and M.A. in Language and Literature from Marymount University; she has completed additional graduate-level coursework in counseling.
Amy Dunlap has worked in higher education access programs at both the high school and college level for ten years. A graduate of Oberlin College and Columbia University’s Teachers College, Amy worked as the first high school college and career counselor at an inner-city high school in Cincinnati, Ohio, where 94% of its original graduating class transitioned to a two-year, four-year, or technical college. In 2006, Amy was one of the first staff hired for Northern Virginia Community College’s award-winning Pathway to the Baccalaureate program, where she served as a Transition Counselor for five years. In 2011, she became the program’s first Data and Retention Counselor, maintaining student records at all stages of program involvement (from high school senior to four-year university graduate) that provide quantitative evidence of the Pathway Program’s efficacy. Amy currently is the program’s Assistant Coordinator for Case Management Services, assisting in program-wide policy creation and implementation as well as program development.
Alexandra (Alex) Schumann has been working at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) with the Pathway Program since 2009. As a Transition Counselor, Alex focuses on the initial phase of the Program – transitioning students from high school to NOVA. Alex began her Pathway career as a counselor for alternative high school programs in Arlington County. She then moved over to rapidly-growing Loudoun County and has helped lead expansion efforts at the school level. Currently working with four high schools within the Loudoun County Public Schools system, Alex also assists with the Pathway Connection Program, a pilot program focusing on college-readiness for students in grades 10 and 11. Prior to NOVA, Alex worked in intensive in-home community counseling, as well as admissions and residential life at a private secondary school. Alex’s passion remains working with adolescents. Alex graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University and an M.A. and M.Ed. in Psychological Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University.