Behind the Scenes: Career and College Resource Center


Sakib Asraf

Ms. Kuropatkin and Ms. Smith are staff members at the CCRC

Sun-Jung Yum, Editor-in-Chief

Hundreds of CRLS students run in and out of the Career and College Resource Center (CCRC) throughout the year to take advantage of its countless resources. The CCRC is also home to three individuals who are dedicated to providing students with guidance; without them, the Center would not function.

The Center has been up and running since 1970, even during the freshman year of Jean Kuropatkin ’77, who, as a student, volunteered at the center and today works as the clerk and the Secretary of Records. In the past 40 years, it underwent several changes with its staff, the merge of Cambridge High and Latin and Rindge Technical High School, the addition of career-centered resources, and a shift towards technology. Today, Ms. Kuropatkin works alongside Coordinator of Guidance Lynn Williams ’89 and uAspire advisor Jenny Smith to serve the same role of providing students with access to information about various post-secondary options and financial pathways to their goals.

“At the beginning of the school year, the room needs a revolving door,” Ms. Kuropatkin notes, laughing. “That’s how busy it gets in here.” Their job, however, doesn’t simply end after applications are in for seniors, particularly with respect to uAspire’s work with financial aid.

Advisors from uAspire, a non-profit that supports students in finding an affordable path to college, have been a part of CRLS’ CCRC for three years now. According to Ms. Smith, CRLS is unique in its level of family involvement; it is evident that investigating financial options is a family endeavor for CRLS students, something which she values about the school.

However, the Rindge Building’s CCRC office, which runs on a mostly drop-in basis, and its uAspire desk, which is appointment-based, are not the only resources for students. Based on impressions from the College and Career Fair in October, students eager to learn more about certain schools and jobs can attend the College and Career Fair in October, as well as daily visits from places ranging from the U.S. National Guard to Columbia University.

With the representatives often being the admissions officers who later will review CRLS applications, “students definitely use [the college visits] as an opportunity to get to know the admissions officer personally and make that connection since it’s so competitive,” Ms. Smith points out. In fact, Johnson and Wales University holds on-spot-applications at CRLS, where applicants are interviewed one-by-one by an admissions officer and receive an answer before walking out the door.

As a student at High and Latin, Ms. Kuropatkin worked as a Peer Counselor in the CCRC, similar to today’s Peer Leaders. “When I finished high school, I found out that there was an opening and I applied for it, got it, stayed, and liked it,” she recounts. Now, 43 years later, she runs Peer Leadership classes three periods a day and handles records for students and alumni.

Ms. Smith, on the other hand, works entirely on the financial aid part of the college process, meeting with seniors and families throughout the day. With uAspire’s desire to match an experienced advisor with CRLS’ large community, Ms. Smith’s three years in various positions made her a natural fit for the job, and CRLS was also a community that Ms. Smith was particularly eager to join.

“In a lot of my education classes [at Tufts University], we talked about Cambridge Rindge and Latin and studied it as a cool, diverse, interesting school. I had always heard about it and was fascinated by the student population,” she explains.

With Ms. Kuropatkin and Ms. Smith, Ms. Williams works on all fronts, overseeing the CCRC as well as CRLS’ entire guidance system. However, unlike Ms. Kuropatkin—who had volunteered at the CCRC during high school—and Ms. Smith—who had always wanted to work with students—working at the CCRC was not something that Ms. Williams had originally considered.

Having grown up in a low-income, single-parent household and being the first in her family to attend college, the tremendous support of her guidance counselor at CRLS was something which had impacted her greatly. “I thought a lot about that as I thought about what I might want to do and decided that I wanted to go into counseling.”

Working at the center comes with its own difficulties, however. “I hate it when they don’t get into the school they want. And it’s going to happen again! It happens every year,” Ms. Kuropatkin laments, tearing up. “Some students say that they want to go to a four-year school and then they don’t get into the one they want and the money can only match a community college. There’s nothing wrong with a community college, but they’ll say, ‘I didn’t want that.’”

Still, helping students through these moments is exactly what the CCRC hopes to do. “[My favorite thing] is helping students realize that they do have potential, that their dreams can be met, that no matter what their circumstances are if they want something, they can certainly attain [it] as long as they’re willing to put in the hard work and work at it,” affirms Ms. Williams. “I think that’s definitely my favorite part of my job—just working with the students.”


This piece also appears in our November 2018 print edition.