Darnell Heywood. Courtesy/Cindy Wilson
Written by co-editors Abby Jeffers, Jane Li, and Georgia Tuckerman
To most high schoolers, the College Board represents much of what they dread: SATs, APs, and the college application process as a whole. These tests and scores, however, are only part of what they do. Although those assessments seem like unnecessary obstacles to gaining admission, their mission aims to “set a standard . . . to understand [students’] capabilities” so colleges can reach exemplary students in areas they may not recognize, according to Mrs. Heywood. To do so, the College Board, through its many councils, engages in different forms of outreach and negotiation to provide as many opportunities to prospective college students as it can.
After years of being involved with the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) and representing our school, region, and even state, Heywood took on an even more impressive position: Chair of the Counseling and Admissions Council. A branch of the college board, this council consists of admissions professionals and counselors from high schools and colleges alike. To put her influence into perspective, Heywood oversees a group that includes Chris Guttentag, the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Duke University, as well as Ronné Turner, the Vice Provost for Admissions and Financial Aid at Washington University at St. Louis.
Heywood, as in our own community, sets herself apart. Her high energy and persistent diligence aren’t limited to Academy, but neither is her relentless moral integrity. Heywood’s pursuit to make the College Board “a voice for students” is genuine and noble. She takes on the responsibility to defend student interests–not just at Academy–but across the nation. And with this, she has used her influential role to instill ethical judgement on the big stage. Sometimes larger governing organizations can seem aloof and inaccessible, but it is heartening to know that in such an influential position, Heywood is looking out for all of us.
Her experiences at The College Board have given her a platform to advocate for students on a national level, but Heywood also uses her role to make Academy a better place. In forming relationships with different officials, she gains an inside view on college processes that she can pass on to students here at Academy.
Between seven meetings per year and the massive amount of prep work before each one, her new position involves quite a bit of travel time–which means time away from her students here. She’s thankful that the school has understood the commitment involved, however, and feels encouraged by the Academy community as she pursues this “big, professional opportunity.”
“I just love this work, and this, to me, is really fulfilling,” Heywood said. “I work with 50 students a year, but I think I also have a professionalism and confidence that I can use what I know in a way that’s heard on a larger scale.”
From the outside, the College Board seems to be a faceless organization that does nothing but administer tests. Heywood’s position on the Counseling and Admission Assembly Council, however, replaces that intimidation with a friendly face and the knowledge that she is not only advocating for students at her school, but for students across the country.