NISKAYUNA — When Niskayuna graduate Emil Friedman began his high school career, he didn’t imagine that an ivy league school would be in the cards.
Now, in his freshman year at Yale University, Friedman said that he made it there because of the support and dedication of Niskayuna teachers and of one person in particular: counselor Nancy Bushee.
“… She was the one who convinced me that I could go,” Friedman said.
Oftentimes, the most challenging part about getting ready for college is the arduous process of filling out applications and poring over essays that need to at once reflect and elevate the applicant.
Friedman recalls how Bushee would not only look over his applications, but help edit all of his daunting college application essays.
“She would meet with me every week for one or sometimes even two hours and go through my essays,” Friedman recalled in an interview.
For this, among many other reasons, Friedman nominated Bushee for the 2016 Yale Educator award shortly after he started at Yale.
“It was great to know that I had someone there to bounce ideas off of. But I didn’t nominate her because she did that for me. I nominated her because she does that for all of her students,” Friedman said.
Bushee will be receiving the award this month from the Yale Educator Recognition Program. Yale’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Jeremiah Quinlan, created the program in 2006 as a way to help spotlight educators who have made a difference to matriculating Yale students.
When Yale students first enter the college, they are given the chance to nominate a teacher or counselor who has helped them and other students through their high school careers.
This year 326 educators were nominated. 83 educators from around the globe were given the award, 55 of whom were teachers and 28 of whom were counselors.
Bushee, who has been a counselor at Niskayuna for 15 years, said that she was surprised by the award.
“I love working with kids and I love that my job changes every day. It never gets old,” Bushee said.
After getting her bachelor degree from SUNY Plattsburgh, Bushee knew she wanted to work with students and decided to continue on to the college’s school counselor program.
“As educators, we hope that we are able to have a positive influence on our students and their high school experiences,” Bushee said, “I’m very appreciative of Emil and the admissions office at Yale University for this recognition.”
One of the toughest parts about being a high school counselor is getting to know the students on an individual basis.
“Each counselor has 260 students on average,” Bushee said.
And for counselors, knowing what each student aspires to is crucial in helping them get to where they want to go.
“Every student has different needs. Sometimes they need to meet with me a few times a week, others a few times a year,” Bushee said.
While Bushee is honored to be given the award, she said that she’s gratified by the everyday triumphs of her students that she gets to be a part of.
“Whether it is getting a student to be able to graduate or getting them into the college they want – those are great moments,” Bushee said.
Winners of the award receive an engraved desk set, which Bushee will no doubt use to inspire another student to reach beyond their expectation of their future and help them see a few cards they might not know they’ve been holding all along.