Inclusion Initiative in the Admissions Office


Chris Temerson

Students carrying flags at Convocation.

In order to promote diversity on the Circle, the Admission Office has worked tirelessly to discover capable students from all around the world, from learning about the best practices in the field through conferences to expanding Groton’s outreach programs. While Groton, like all institutions, cannot offer opportunities to all of its applicants, the 12% of admitted students embody the school’s culture of and efforts towards diversity and inclusion. Throughout the years, the goal of the Admission Office has always been to attract bright, conscientious, and hardworking students to the Circle, regardless of their background. With the establishment of programs like GRAIN, the entire office is looking to increase exposure of the boarding school experience and more specifically, Groton.

The Admission Office travels to try and reach as many different types of events as possible, while welcoming students on campus as well. Randi Dumont, who helps manage the Admission team’s calendar, said, “traveling allows us to communicate [Groton’s initiatives] directly to people and contextualize our school emphasis a bit more than if they simply read about it in a two-dimensional form.” One of the department’s recent goals has been to increase Groton’s presence in public schools, where the transition into boarding school is not as common. Cort Pomeroy, Director of Enrollment Management, recently visited a charter school in Cleveland to increase access to private schools. While there is a large pool of talented and hardworking students in public schools, they rarely consider boarding schools like Groton as an option, according to the Admission Office. Groton has embarked on trips to almost ten public and charter schools in an effort to change this phenomenon. Furthermore, the Admission Office provides transportation from public schools in Lawrence to Groton’s Open House, and provides break-out workshops about the application process and financial aid. 

Officers not only visit different schools, but also travel extensively to conferences and symposiums throughout the country, and host receptions all over the world. In fact, members of the Admission Office recently returned to campus from a tour of Asia, with stops in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Seoul. There is even a page on Groton’s website called “Groton On the Road,” which is dedicated to all of the places that the Admission Office travels to.

Jamie Funnell, Director of Admissions, has aimed to recruit a more diverse student body through various foundations. While Groton’s relationship with many of these foundations, including The Boys’ Club of New York, PREP 9, New Jersey SEEDS, and The Wight Foundation, were forged in the 1970s and 80s, the Admission Office has established new connections with institutions, such as the American Education Group (AEG), as recently as 2014. Through AEG, Groton welcomed its first student from Vietnam this year, Cam Nguyen ’22. According to Mr. Funnell, “AEG has been trying to place kids at Groton for a few years now, and Cam was one of the five kids they recommended.” He added, “She was a remarkable and strong candidate all the admissions officers loved, and now she’s here.”

Hailing from Bulgaria, another underrepresented country on the Circle, Noah Bay ’21 is thrilled to join our community, having learned about Groton through a family friend. His unique perspective as a Bulgarian student allows him to fully appreciate diversity and embrace cultural differences. “Understanding and exchanging knowledge about our cultural backgrounds is key to getting the full Groton experience,” Noah emphasized.

This understanding and exchanging of knowledge starts in admissions. Another member of the admissions team who is leading the Office’s inclusion efforts is Carolyn Chica. Since joining the admissions team last year, Ms. Chica has been an active member of the department, especially when it comes to promoting diversity. Her positions include Assistant Director of Admissions, Director of Inclusion Outreach, and co-advisor of the Cultural Alliance club. She recently visited the Young Eisner Scholars Program –– a program that, as she says, “helps connect low-income public school students with different resources” –– in both New York and Los Angeles, where she offered information sessions for prospective students. In order to be more inclusive to the demographic, she gave the Los Angeles session in both Spanish and English, since “many of the parents in the audience were Spanish-speaking.”

Ms. Chica and the rest of the Admissions Office also travel to academic symposiums and conferences to stay updated on the trends and initiatives happening in the independent school realm. One of these opportunities is the People of Color Conference. According to Ms. Chica, the conference often relates to admissions work, but touches on many aspects of school life as well. On October 19, Ms. Chica and Ms. Dumont attended Beacon Academy’s Symposium on Race and Class in Education. The Admissions Office also sends three people each year to the Enrollment Management Association conference for a more general discussion on admissions. Ms. Chica hopes that the admission team’s efforts will promote “access to Groton and the boarding school opportunity in general… we are aiming to make the application process inclusive from start to finish.”

This outreach works alongside Headmaster Temba Maqubela’s Groton Affordability & Inclusion (GRAIN) initiative, which awards financial aid to over 40% of the student body. Ms. Dumont described how this initiative directly led to “a greater admission emphasis on expanding the applicant pool.” One of the school’s primary aims is to incorporate greater socioeconomic diversity. In working towards this goal, GRAIN has raised over $50 million via donations, a fundraising milestone that has financed several scholarships. Mr. Maqubela himself explained, “GRAIN is built upon this great idea [of inclusion] with a focus on including the talented missing middle…. [ensuring] that all socioeconomic cohorts will be included.” GRAIN allows the admissions department to admit students regardless of their ability to pay. This not only benefits financial aid students, but the community as a whole by building a more diverse student body.

Ms. Dumont linked GRAIN back to the Admission Office’s outreach goals, saying it is “one of the most impactful messages we are trying to spread broadly to people in our travel.” She added, “We do not want to be known exclusively as one of the most expensive, selective boarding schools –– while we may still be among the most selective, we are also trying to be the most welcoming and affordability is a big part of helping people see that.”

The Admission Office is also striving to attract talent through the use of social media with a new account, @grotonadmission. Although it bears similarities to @grotonschool, it caters more to helping students who are unfamiliar with Groton or the admissions process in general. Groton students can help the admissions department by following the account, as well as continuing to be advocates for the school as tour guides and hosts during open houses and revisit days.

        While the Admission Office is working on new outreach programs, conferences, and school visits to attract a wider range of students, its staple practices both during the application process and on campus have always been centered around inclusion. Personalized tours, revisit programs, and senior advisors contribute to Groton’s sense of community, and Mr. Maqubela even makes sure to say hello to families in the admission office every day! As people from all over the world come to visit the Circle at this point of year, the Admission Office hopes to make them feel welcomed, regardless of the ultimate admission decision.