College Counseling Hires New Director

Amelia Paulsen '19

Adam Ortiz, a former assistant director of admissions at Johns Hopkins University,  will be joining Sidwell as its third new college counselor in the last two years.  

Ortiz will be working with the roughly one-third of the senior class previously assigned to Cory Zimmerman, a counselor who left last year to take a job in Taiwan, and juniors who will begin their college meetings in the spring semester.

In addition to his time at Hopkins, Ortiz worked in a school that taught English in Turkey as part of a Fulbright Program. He said the experience “broadened [his] perspective on life and the interconnectedness of humanity.”

Ortiz said he is uniquely qualified for his new role because of his experience as a student, teacher, counselor and member of the admissions team at Hopkins.

Patrick Gallagher, Sidwell’s director of college counseling, describes him as a “very outgoing, charismatic and well informed professional regarding college admissions.” Gallagher also noted Ortiz’s experience in international college admissions as one of his strengths.

While students are not formally assigned college counselors until their junior year, Ortiz encourages underclassmen to get involved in preparing to apply to college and meet with him before they begin the application process.

Ortiz and Gallagher said seniors who worked with Zimmerman last year should not worry about a disruption in their application process. In preparation for working with those students, Ortiz met with Zimmerman over a two day period, reviewing each student’s file and discussing their cases at length.

Gallagher was also new to Sidwell last year, and said he enjoyed a smooth transition to becoming head of the department and counselor to almost a third of the senior class. He said he expects Ortiz’s arrival to be equally seamless. Emily Thigpen, the third college counselor, also started at Sidwell in 2016.

Rising seniors who had worked with Zimmerman but were reassigned to Ortiz are generally excited about their new counselor. One student who will work with Ortiz and wanted to remain anonymous said that, while he is sad to see Zimmerman go, Ortiz is “a good guy who really seems to know his stuff.”

The student said he is interested in going to college internationally and is pleased by Ortiz’s expertise in overseas post-secondary education. He also said that Zimmerman assured him of Ortiz’s preparedness for the role and was not worried about the transition.

Ortiz said he is excited to begin his new role, and is looking forward to learning about Sidwell and its culture, meeting with students and their families and “guid[ing] students as they make plans for continuing their education.”

Ortiz said he remembers “meeting people for the first time, but feeling like [he] had known them for years” during his first visit to Sidwell. He said he “felt comfortable [at Sidwell] in a way [he] hadn’t at other places [he] interviewed and felt the community would be a great fit.”

Gallagher also noted Ortiz’s quick adjustment and said that, during the first college counseling workshop in August, Ortiz “approached his students without hesitation.”

Ortiz encourages students to stop by his office, whether they want to discuss their college applications or the latest encourages students to stop by his office, whether they want to discuss their college applications or the latest baseball or  basketball game.

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