ACHIEVEMENT: Mrs. Yuridia Nava was named California State Counselor of the Year and was one of five finalists for the National Counselor of the Year Award.
By Kate Santoso, Editor
Throughout their scholarly years, students learn to rely on their counselors for guidance on college admissions, standardized testing and class schedules. However, in time, many students realize that the most apparent role a counselor plays in a student’s life is simply being a motivational friend. Poly counselor Mrs. Yuridia Nava has made a difference in the Poly community, not just for her assigned students, but for the entire Poly family.
As an immigrant to the United States, Nava attended a public school and established a close relationship with her counselor. Because of the difference her counselor made at her high school, Nava knew she wanted to work in a public school and do the same for other students— especially English learners and immigrants. Nava graduated from her counseling credential in 2008 when California was struck by a devastating economic crisis— one that costed her job. After California recovered from the economic plague, Nava interned at Poly as a graduate student for her school counseling hours. While interning at Poly, Nava acquainted with a woman from Notre Dame High School (NDHS), who helped her get a position there. However, Nava knew she preferred working at a public school because an overwhelming majority of parents at NDHS had already acquired the college experience; therefore, the students already attained a firm grasp of the college application process.
As an intern at Poly, Nava admired the team’s rigor and passion for counseling. Eight years later, she willingly joined the Poly family. “It was so nice to join the Poly family last year. Being an intern eight years ago to being a colleague was amazing,” Nava said.
Nava was nominated for California State Counselor of the Year by a former board member and colleague from NDHS. The criteria necessary to be chosen for this incredible honor includes being an advocate for school counseling and following the counseling agenda, which includes classroom presentations and assisting students with financial aid. The Poly Counseling Department sets goals for the team based on students’ attendance, grades and behavior. “We all want our students to be the best they can be and for us to be a part of their journey is just pretty amazing,” Nava said.
All American school counselors are involved in the American School Counselors Association (ASCA), an organization that sets the proper standards for counselors. Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) coordinated the Legacy Program— an organization aimed to assist Latino students with the tedious college application process. The Poly administration paired the coordinator for English learners, Spanish teacher Señora Blanca Garcia, with Nava to oversee the program. “With such an approachable nature, Mrs. Nava has brought a lot of knowledge and opportunities for students that haven’t had a connection with other adults,” Garcia said. With a full resume, Nava was nominated for California State Counselor of the Year.
To be selected for National Counselor of the Year, all state counselors had to submit a rigorous application. Nava’s successful interview was based on her extensive history of advocacy and legislative involvement with the state counseling association. Nava created a video that shared the goals of Poly’s counseling department last year, one being that all seniors had a postsecondary plan. A panel of twelve people composed of superintendents, principals and College Board representatives from all over the country chose five of the top counselors from the 50 that applied.
The top five were invited to the White House and the ASCA Gala to be recognized for their incredible accomplishments and meet First Lady Michelle Obama. Although she was not chosen for National Counselor of the Year, Nava enjoyed her one-in-a-lifetime experience and brought the story back to Poly.
Poly students rave over Mrs. Nava’s accomplishments. “Mrs. Nava has made a difference in my life both inside and outside of school. She has helped me catch up on my credits and given me leadership positions,” Leslie Flores (11) said. Nava’s profound work ethic is apparent in her effort to help students who aren’t even in her assigned group. “I’m really grateful to Mrs. Nava for taking the time to fix my schedule even though she’s not my counselor,” Rosendo Cervantes (12) said.
Mrs. Nava hopes to stay a part of the Poly family for as long as possible and support the Poly counseling department. Her optimistic nature, strong work ethic and fervent passion will continue to inspire Poly students to achieve their goals and dive into a future full of opportunity. “What any counselor believes, especially our team, is that there are no limits to what students can do and the type of difference they can make,” Nava said.