Today, after an incredible three-year run as a Collegewise counselor in Northern California, we’re saying goodbye to Casey Near, who will soon be off on a self-described adventure traveling and working internationally. When she shared the news and poured out her reasons to me and the rest of Collegewise months ago, it was very hard to hear. It’s never easy for us when a coworker decides it’s time to move on, especially one that we all love and admire as much as we do Casey. But when that coworker is as excited about her next step as Casey is, we can’t help but support her and cheer her on.
When I reflect on Casey’s time at Collegewise, it’s easy to see—but almost impossible to sum up—how much she’s meant to us. But her example is one that I think just about anyone, from a high school student, to a college counselor, to a parent, can learn from.
Honor the work
Whether they plan on staying here for a few years or being Collegewise lifers, the best Collegewise counselors behave as if they are doing their life’s work. They’re always looking for ways to be better, more knowledgeable, more efficient counselors. For three years, Casey made it her mission to be great at this job. Whether she was finding office space, offering a free seminar in her community, or sitting down with a student to brainstorm a college essay, Casey honored the work by doing it the best way she knew how. No task was insignificant. Every role was important and worth doing well. And she never stopped trying to get even better.
Be a giver
I don’t think I’ve ever worked with someone who was more generous with her time, energy, skills, and ideas than Casey. If she attended a workshop she found helpful, she wrote up her notes and shared them with all of us. If a counselor needed help or had a question, Casey was always among the first to respond. If we needed help creating new programs, or writing new materials, or building a relationship with a school, Casey was right there, and she always did a great job. I can’t even count the number of times she sent me an article or podcast link—college-related or not—with a note about why she thought I might enjoy it. Givers like that are greatness multipliers. They make everyone else around them better.
Make an impact
I write often here about the concept of impact, of bringing so much to a role that you fundamentally change the experience for those around you. There are some kids in college today who would not be there were it not for Casey’s help. There are dozens (and dozens) of Casey’s Collegewise families who can look back and fondly recall how she guided them to a less stressful, more successful journey to college. There are co-workers who are better counselors and happier employees because of Casey’s mentorship. There are high school counselors and community leaders who can better guide their kids today because of the time Casey spent helping them learn what she knows. Impact like that can’t always be succinctly listed on a resume (or a college application). But it’s felt, appreciated, and remembered by everyone who was touched by it.
Leave a legacy
Tomorrow, Casey will no longer be working at Collegewise. But her legacy will live on for years because of the work she’s leaving behind. From authoring some of our most popular resources, to mentoring counselors, to finding ways to improve our programs, we’ll never be able to turn around without bumping into something that Casey created herself or touched in some way. Greatness like that lives on even after someone moves on.
Learning from one of the greats
We’ve all got limited time—in high school, in college, at our jobs, with our families and friends, etc. We’re never going to play all of those roles perfectly all the time. But Casey is a great reminder that we can all try to be one of the greats. We can honor what we’re doing by bringing our best selves to these roles. We can be givers who think more about what other people need than what other people can offer us. We can make an impact, one that improves the experience for ourselves and the people we share it with. And if we do those things, we’ll almost certainly leave a legacy that makes us—and those we shared that time with—proud.
Casey, enjoy your well-deserved adventure. I’m sure that it, and you, will be great together.
Update: In April 2017, we were lucky and thrilled to welcome Casey Near back to Collegewise! She’s now directing our office in Newton, Massachusetts.