Getting to know your new CIE Director Chon’tel Washington

What is your background?

I graduated from [Boston Public Schools]. I attended Another Course to College in Brighton, and from there I was awarded the Posse Foundation Scholarship. It’s a full-tuition scholarship for potential leaders. They recruit students in groups of 10 to go to a top college in the country as a support network. … I went to Hamilton College and graduated from there. I graduated in 2008 in a kind of shaky financial environment so it took me awhile to find jobs. I decided to go to grad school, but before that I worked in different non-profits in Boston. I went back doing work within the Boston Public Schools, which I really enjoyed. Then I went on to grad school at Brandeis and went to the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. I got an M.B.A. there, and then I came to Framingham State.

What was being a Posse Foundation scholar like?

They recruited us in our senior year of high school and we started a leadership-training program together. We knew very early on – by December – that we were going to Hamilton College. … Then when we got to campus we met once a week with our mentor on campus, and the people from the Boston office would come often to visit us. We met as a group as well. … We did that for the first two years. … Whenever we got down or felt like we didn’t have anyone else to turn to, we had each other so that basically helped us be successful in college.

What inspired you to go into your current career?

While I went to grad school to get an M.B.A., I went to a social politics school so it was a nontraditional M.B.A. My M.B.A. focused on nonprofit management, like sustainability, like the relationship of businesses to the environment and the people in the community. It also focused on bringing a business-sense to nonprofits and running them like any other organization. … Going through the Posse program, I saw how important it was to have a great education because it changed my life. I always wanted to be able to give that back to someone else, I just didn’t know which form. … That’s why it kind of fits that I landed here.

What made you switch from admissions to your current position?

I wanted to have more of an impact. I realized that I really enjoyed meeting the students that I encountered, but it was always a one-off meeting or once they got here I didn’t get to keep in touch with them to see if they were being successful or how well they were doing. I realized that was important to me. Not just getting them here and selling them on the school, but making sure that I was a part of their success as well.

What were you like as a student?

School has, surprisingly, never come really easy to me but I was always determined, so I would say that I was a very determined individual. That’s just how I am. Sometimes I flubbed and had issues in school, but I always persisted – no matter what the challenge was.

What are some of your hobbies?

When I was in college I really enjoyed the Step Team. I was a co-captain of the Step Team. I loved that. …  I was in gospel choir – I like to sing even though I’m not a singer. I really like YouTube phenomenons. I’m interested in black women and their hair, social media and photography and things like that. I’m really big on Instagram – I follow professional photographers. I like to travel.

What are some of the places you’ve traveled to?

When I was in undergrad I actually studied abroad in South Africa. … I lived in Cape Town and attended the University of Cape Town. … We took a road trip to Mozambique, which was interesting.

If you could give students one piece of advice, what would it be?

Take advantage of all the opportunities that you have at your disposal just being in a University. That’s a huge privilege and opportunity. … Study abroad, work with professors, speak up – be an advocate for yourself. That’s a big one. Don’t ever be afraid to just speak up.

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