Monthly Archives: January 2021

MSM college counselor chosen for Counselors That Change Lives award

Emily Coffey, college counselor at Mount St. Mary Academy, has been named one of this year’s Counselors That Change Lives. The award, given by Colleges That Changes Lives (CTCL), recognizes those whose dedication to the college counseling profession reflects the mission of the nonprofit organization: to promote and support a student-centered college search process.


Ms. Coffey, now in her third year at Mount St. Mary, is one of 12 recipients from across the country to receive this award in 2021. She is also the first college counselor from an Arkansas high school to be honored since the program began in 2009. Admission staff at CTCL-member colleges and universities nominate counselors who are committed to students and their success not only during their college search, but throughout their entire high school career and beyond.


“These counselors work with students and their families to ensure they are thoughtful about their college choices – developing a list of schools that will cultivate their strengths, help them improve in challenging areas, and offer students a transformative college experience, all leading to successful personal and professional lives,” said Maria Furtado, CTCL executive director. “The type of work Ms. Coffey is doing is truly changing lives and upholding the ideal of a student-centered college search.”


Ms. Coffey was nominated by Emily Kohler, senior assistant director of admission at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. “I have seen firsthand how Ms. Coffey gently pushes her students to thoughtfully reflect on their time at Mount St. Mary,” Kohler said. “This self-reflection often leads to conversations about what they have benefitted from during their time in high school and where they have found the most success. These intentional conversations, not judgement sessions, are particularly helpful in bridging the gaps between the more familiar big name schools and those that could just be a better overall fit for the student.”


Prior to her role as college counselor at Mount St. Mary, Ms. Coffey served as an admission counselor for her alma mater, CTCL-member school Hendrix College in Conway. It’s no surprise that her undergraduate experience there informs her work at Mount today.


“I loved my time as a student at Hendrix because they saw each of us as a ‘someone’ and gave us what we needed to see ourselves that way, too,” she said. “When I help students search for colleges, I try to show them that it’s so much more than student clubs, majors, brand name recognition and athletics. What we are trying to do is find them a college home that gives them enough support to succeed, and enough of a push to get them to the person we know they can become.”


Her nominator shared similar sentiments regarding the impact of Ms. Coffey’s college experience and acknowledged its influence in the college counselor’s success during the past year in particular. “Ms. Coffey intimately knows the benefits of an education that is student focused and pushes students to grow and self-reflect throughout their lives,” Kohler said. “Her thoughtful and insightful way of thinking, likely encouraged during her liberal arts education at Hendrix, was also evidenced in her work during the current pandemic. She helped coordinate multi-school attendance at virtual visits from college representatives, helping students outside Mount St. Mary expand their college-search horizons.”


“Receiving this award means the world to me,” Ms. Coffey said. “At their core, CTCL schools are all about changing students’ lives via student-centered experiences. Many years ago when I was searching for my college, my dad read the CTCL book and designed an ambitious road trip for us to visit several of the featured schools. How cool that I now do the same thing for my students! Not only do I owe CTCL thanks for this humbling and meaningful award, but also for the book that led me to Hendrix and my career in higher education.”


Congratulations, Ms. Coffey, and thank you for your exemplary work counseling and partnering with Mount St. Mary students throughout their college search.


Mount St. Mary Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, develops young women with a moral and intellectual foundation rooted in Catholic tradition. Mercy-minded and college-prepared, our students meet the future with wisdom, compassion and integrity.

Senior’s art wins second place in Thea Foundation competition

For the second year in a row, a Mount St. Mary Academy senior’s talent has been recognized by one of Thea Foundation’s annual scholarship competitions. Caroline Gunderman ’21 placed second and won a $3,500 scholarship in the nonprofit arts organization’s 2021 Visual Arts Scholarship Competition this month. Her winning artwork, a colorful painting titled Reflection, represents Caroline’s interpretation of this year’s competition theme: “What it means to be me.”


According to Thea Foundation, 126 Arkansas high school seniors entered this year’s Visual Arts Scholarship Competition. Only 10 students were selected as winners of scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $4,000. Livvie Falcon ’20 won the ninth place $2,000 scholarship in the same competition in 2020. Additionally, Sophie Mammarelli ’20 was awarded a $2,500 Editing Scholarship in last year’s Thea Foundation Film Scholarship Competition. At the end of its competitions this year, Thea Foundation will have awarded 472 scholarships for a total of approximately $2.5 million to Arkansas high school students.


“Caroline is one of those art students that you can count on to wow you with her work,” Jenny Holder, MSM art teacher, said. “She is exceptionally talented, yet is always open to guidance and to putting in the work. She absolutely deserves this scholarship.”


This isn’t the first time Caroline’s talent has been acknowledged and rewarded in a statewide competition. In May 2020, she was named the second place winner in Congressman French Hill’s Congressional Art Competition. A month earlier, she received Governor Asa Hutchinson’s top award – the Governor’s Award – in the Governor’s Young Artist Competition.


Congratulations to Caroline and all of this year’s Thea visual arts scholarship recipients!


Mount St. Mary Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, develops young women with a moral and intellectual foundation rooted in Catholic tradition. Mercy-minded and college-prepared, our students meet the future with wisdom, compassion and integrity.