Q&A: Garick Sherburn

How is work in the UW Bothell Office of Admissions?

Garick Sherburn, assistant director of admissions, answers a few questions from Maria Lamarca Anderson, director of communications.


Q: How do you try to innovate?

A: We are all very aware of how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect us and our work daily. The Division of Enrollment Management & Student Affairs team has done a brilliant job of finding ways to engage with students. For the first two years I worked here at UW Bothell, we would never have done a virtual advising appointment or do a high school visit over Zoom — and now those continue to be regular offerings in our office.

It seems like the pandemic has challenged us to think innovatively, and some of those developments have become dynamic new ways to engage students.

Even through the era of social distancing, it seems like our net for connection has grown wider than before, which is great for serving our students and their families. My team and I continue to organize ourselves in a student-first manner and create offerings for students to learn about UW Bothell across multiple mediums and activities.

Q: What is the core of your work?

A: As admissions advisers, I think there is this stigma that our jobs are solely focused around getting students in seats, which is so opposite of how my team and I tackle our roles. For me, the most impactful work I do is educating students about the college search process. I meet so many students who have never been to a college campus, who are first generation and, in some cases, who have no idea what it means to go to college.

My mission is to help these students navigate the search process and to help guide them and their families to meet their educational goals.

I am so honored to work at a college that has allowed me to focus on serving our community and not treat students as just another number. This platform has allowed me to educate many families and to grow as a professional.

Q: How do any or all of UW Bothell’s three strategic priorities fit into your work?

A: We have often talked in our office about how the life cycle of our work stops after students are enrolled, and we send them to our outstanding colleagues in the First Year & Pre-Major Program and in Orientation & Transition Programs. It’s a curse and blessing, not being able to see students grow as individuals through their college journey but also getting to work with so many new students on a year-by-year basis.

More and more, my team is focusing our enrollment strategy around equity and strengthening diversity on our campus. We have created events such as Aim for College (for first-gen students) and College Awareness Day (for BIPOC students) specifically targeted to underrepresented communities. Secondly, we challenge each other to talk with our students and with our team about our own experiences in college as members of marginalized communities. Lastly, we serve each student individually. We know no two students are alike and we are very intentional in serving each student through their own search process.

Q: What are you working on today?

A: We are currently working on two exciting events. Dawg Days — during which high school students and their families tour UW Bothell, attend an information session and experience the Collaboratory — is taking place the week of Aug. 15. In September, we will host The Washington Council’s workshops at which high school counselors and other college admissions teams share updates about their upcoming application cycles.

Super exciting but also where has the time gone? Everything is happening so fast!

Q: How does who you are show up in your work?

A: What a time to ask this question! I just did a presentation for the Washington Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers focusing on identities being displayed in the workplace. I’m at this strange intersection of career and personal life that I have never been before. I live my life as an out gay man, and that same energy naturally bleeds into the workplace. As I have grown in this role, I have seen many more instances of representation being part of what I do.

For so long, I treated my personal and professional identities as separate, but I see how representation matters. How, truly, who I am personally and who I am professionally are one and the same. I am still growing in this area, however, and I am thankful for leaders, such as Scott James, vice chancellor for DEMSA, who represent people like me and have helped me navigate these interesting intersections where I find myself.

Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus, and why?

A: I am a big fan of Pokémon Go, and UW Bothell delivers a great mobile augmented reality experience. If you start at the bus loop, head toward the library, cut down by the Activities & Recreation Center, hang a left after the baseball field and follow that pathway back to Husky Hall, you will hit 4 Pokémon gyms, at least 10 Pokémon item stops and a ton of Pokémon-catching opportunities. It sounds like a lot, but this walk takes only about 15 minutes in total which is the perfect timeframe for a good mental work break and nice Pokémon collecting experience.

Sherburn playing Pokémon Go on campus

Q: What is your favorite thing about working at UW Bothell?

A: I think I have said it in more ways than one, but it is the absolute joy I feel when I get to teach students something about college they didn’t understand or address any misconceptions they had. I truly love getting to engage with bright, young minds and help them learn about college.

Back in the day, I was a terrible prospective student. I never went on a campus tour and never emailed my admissions adviser. And if you can believe it, I skipped out on orientation!

I am so happy to have a role where I get to find those young Garicks of the world and help them figure out their next step towards a wonderful college experience.

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