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Kate Woodford
Senior Manager, Marketing and Business Development

Kate is a marketing and communications professional whose passion lies in creating personal meaning and connections for an audience - which is why she has extensive experience in the highly personal sectors of tourism and education. Skilled in corporate and strategic communications, with proven expertise in translating industry and consumer data into communication plans and marketing and content strategy, Kate is now helping to lead the further development of the customer experience strategy for UWCSEA. Part of the team that opened UWCSEA's East Campus, Kate has worked at the College for 12 years in a variety of communications and marketing roles on all three campuses. Prior to UWCSEA, Kate worked at Tourism Australia in a Trade Development role and started her career in tourism at Tourism Queensland, supervising a highly successful sales team based in the Sydney CDB, back in the days of the Queensland Travel Centres! 

Kate has a Master’s in Communications and Public Relations from the University of Technology Sydney and a Business Degree in Tourism Management from what is now Southern Cross University in Australia. 

Getting to next

Supporting our students to find a ‘right fit’ university

UWCSEA students are sought after by reputable universities worldwide. Our graduating class typically enrols at universities in over 15 countries, with the four most popular country destinations being the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Last year we hosted over 300 universities on our campuses for information sessions, with several choosing UWCSEA to host their information events for the wider Singapore community.

Our students literally have a world of choice available as they start exploring their post-graduation options, with most going directly to university or taking a Gap Year. Around 10% of each graduating class need to factor in National Service commitments. Whatever their next destination, we are conscious that our community of largely Third Culture Kids (TCKs) needs carefully considered advice and support to assist them with university applications around the world.

As a result, UWCSEA has developed a careers and university advising programme that spans the High School years. It also intentionally links with elements of the Personal and Social Education (PSE) programme in order to ensure students are able to use key self-discovery and exploration tools that are highly relevant to their university search.

Underpinning the success of the programme are a highly experienced team of University Advisors who are equipped to support and advise students as they transition to life beyond the College. Between them, they have decades of experience and expertise across many university destinations and work closely with tutors/mentors, heads of grade and teachers to gain the most detailed picture they can of a student’s strengths, so that they can guide them and advocate for them on an individual basis.

Starting with preliminary sessions for students in Grade 9, the process expands into a highly individualised, nuanced programme of support in Grades 10, 11 and 12.

Grade 9 and 10: Understanding themselves, exploring options

In Grade 9, the University Advisors lead sessions where students start exploring and developing their academic strengths and extra-curricular interests. The emphasis is on students beginning to know themselves as a key first step in the journey towards identifying and applying to ‘good match’ universities. Students and parents have access to information about university systems around the world.

In Grade 10, the students continue to explore topics that will help them in their university search, with significant integration with the PSE programme. In their tutor/mentor groups, at assemblies and in lunchtime and after school sessions led by the University Advisors, students continue to expand their career and aptitude exploration journey. Information and events include:

  • tools on Naviance Family Connection
  • Alumni Weeks
  • Careers-in-Focus talks by visiting speakers
  • Careers Fair organised by our Parents’ Associations
  • academic ‘taster’ lectures by visiting academics
  • resume writing and communication skills training
  • summer options and access to research databases

In-depth IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) subject selection guidance is also offered, including an individual meeting with a University Advisor, which parents may also attend.

A ‘Planning ahead for University’ presentation for students and parents complements the rest of the advising process in Grade 10, which includes guidance on standardised admissions tests and the recommended timeline for taking these tests.

Grade 11 and 12: Personalised advising

In Grade 11, students are assigned a University Advisor who oversees the student’s entire university research and application process until (and sometimes beyond) graduation. The advisors continue their support beyond graduation in the case of students bound for Gap Year or National Service.

Country-specific information sessions for students and parents are led by the University Advisors. These are followed by a series of individual meetings between each student and their advisor. Parents are also welcome to schedule appointments.

Students are supported with a variety of research and information resources throughout the two years of the IBDP. The PSE programme interweaves ‘core’ topics at key times of year, and others (that are relevant to smaller groups of students) are offered via the Activity programme at lunchtime or after school. The support offered includes:

  • information events by visiting universities and UWCSEA alumni
  • academic ‘taster’ lectures by visiting academics
  • specialist presentations on topics such as Oxbridge, medicine, National Service, US athletics recruitment etc.
  • mock US admissions workshops and alumni interviews
  • UK personal statement and US application essay writing support
  • training and mock interview workshops
  • guidance on standardised admissions tests, including on-campus test-prep and testing several times a year
  • Gap Year and internship support to find meaningful work or volunteer experience

Students continue to meet with their advisors as needed throughout their Grade 12 year for guidance, for individual application essay feedback, application processing, and enrolment decision-making support.

Communication: a key to success

The University Advising Centre (UAC) has a number of customised communications including a campus-specific website, Google calendar and blog linked on the portal, and regular bulletins and eBrief messages. The volume of activity means that it is important for students and families to actively engage with these channels so that they can make the most of the opportunities available.

In Grade 12, students are also provided with a clear timeline of UWCSEA-set (‘internal’) deadlines to help them submit applications in time to meet the deadlines set by the individual institutions (‘external’ deadlines). In order to support the students’ applications, the advisors need this additional time to write and compile confidential school references, and coordinate submission of all school documents, including teacher recommendations, transcripts, the school profile, and any other required documentation. The internal deadlines are set to enable the advisors to meet a range of external deadlines over the course of the year.

Professional support

Building a relationship of mutual trust, respect and collaboration with university admissions professionals worldwide has been a key goal for the UWCSEA UAC team. A key part of their role is to manage the liaison between the school and the universities. The success of this approach meant that last year, both campuses were visited by 315 different universities and colleges.

Whether it is volunteering on Executive Boards for organisations or presenting to peers at conferences, the UAC team are also respected in the international university guidance community. They regularly co-present with university admissions representatives at international conferences, and all members of the UAC team regularly visit universities across the world to stay up to date with trends in higher education. Johanna Fishbein, Head of University Advising on Dover Campus is currently President-elect of the International Association of College Admission Counseling (IACAC), the largest professional body for international high school advisors who provide guidance on college admissions, while Joan Liu from East Campus is their Vice President for Inclusion, Access, and Success. Sean McAuley from Dover Campus also co-hosts the annual Global University Counsellor Connect, a two-day workshop that brings university advisors from over 15 countries to Singapore.

This extensive networking means there is always someone the UAC team can contact to answer questions, provide support and, where appropriate, advocate directly for our students.

Meet the University Advising team

The University Advising Centre (UAC) teams work collaboratively to provide a student-centred programme. They focus on providing information, guidance and advocacy to assist students in finding ‘good fit’ university options where they will be appropriately challenged, join a community suited to them, and in turn be able to thrive both academically and emotionally.

Our University Advisors include former university admissions officers, who provide unique insight into the university side of the process, and counsellors from a teaching background, who bring a firsthand understanding of the academic environment at our school. This balance of internal and external expertise is a key reason that our advisors are able to provide such personalised and successful support. We are proud to introduce the team of professionals who support our students as they transition beyond UWCSEA:

John Bush, University Advisor, Dover CampusJohn Bush
University Advisor, Dover Campus

John started teaching Mathematics in the UK, before joining UWCSEA for a five-year stint in 1999. He returned to the UK as Head of Mathematics at St Clare’s International School in Oxford, returning to UWCSEA in 2006. Before joining the UAC in 2011, he was also a Senior School Head of Grade.
Highlight: John coordinates staff and alumni who support students in preparing for interviews, including preparation advice, a realistic mock interview and individual feedback. Interviews are a significant factor for students applying to study Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, or when applying to Oxford or Cambridge or to a number of US universities (alumni interviews). UAC also host an annual interview workshop run by Oxford University.

Julie Davidson, University Advisor, Dover CampusJulie Davidson
University Advisor, Dover Campus

Julie joined UWCSEA in 1990, with a period teaching, advising and coordinating work experience in Australia and Malaysia before returning to UWCSEA as an English teacher in 2003. She has been involved in careers education and advising since 1986.
Highlight: Work experience can vary from volunteering in a nursing home to flipping burgers at a fast food joint, to shadowing a surgeon. All experience can contribute to positive self-reflection and give a better understanding of the world, and universities particularly appreciate work that takes students out of their comfort zone. Some professional degrees (such as Veterinary Science, Law, Architecture, Medicine) stipulate related experience for applicants. Opportunities are provided by the College via the Careers Fair as well as our alumni database

Linda De Flavis, University Advisor, Dover CampusLinda De Flavis
University Advisor, Dover Campus

Linda joined UWCSEA in 1998 as an English and ToK teacher, moving into University Advising in 2003. Previously she taught literature at universities in the US and at high schools in Hong Kong and the UK.
Highlight: UAC taps into alumni stories to reassure, guide and inspire our current students. Alumni provide role models that they can easily connect with, enabling them to imagine themselves in a range of academic or career settings as well as answer specific questions on courses or institutions. Our alumni have also helped us to identify specific challenges TCKs face in their transition to university and address them via our PSE programme and an annual forum in partnership with the Parents’ Association. We also partner with universities to give conference presentations on helping TCKs adjust to university

Johanna Fishbein, Head of University Advising, Dover CampusJohanna Fishbein
Head of University Advising, Dover Campus

Johanna joined UWCSEA in 2014 from the International School of Brussels where she was the Head of College and Careers Counseling. Previously at Barnard College she was Director of Pre-College Programs and Coordinator of International Recruitment. She began teaching in NYC public schools, and is the President-elect of the International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC).
Highlight: University advising requires a tremendous amount of up to date individual knowledge (or the knowledge of who to ask to find an answer). The university advising and admissions communities are highly collaborative, and a vital tool to foster this is our membership and participation as presenters and delegates in professional association events.

Sean McAuley, University Advisor, Dover CampusSean McAuley
University Advisor, Dover Campus

Sean joined Dover in August 2011 having worked in international schools in the US, Japan, Hungary and Indonesia, most recently at the Bali International School where he was university counsellor and IB Diploma coordinator. Sean co-founded the annual Global University Counsellor Connect and was instrumental in starting ‘Alumni Week.’
Highlight: Sean has always found that students struggle to truly guage university life. Websites only show sunny days and cheerful professors, and representatives only highlight positive aspects of their campus. He began organising alumni talks, where recent graduates ‘return home’ and meet current students, so they can find out about campus life. Over 100 graduates now return each January and June and the event is a fundamental aspect of our advising programme.

Jacqueline Villa Evanko, University Advisor, Dover CampusJacqueline Villa Evanko
University Advisor, Dover Campus

Jacquie joined the UAC team in 2016 after spending nearly a decade working in undergraduate international admissions in the Boston area at Boston University and Brandeis.
Highlight: In approaching university advising, Jacquie thinks about ‘fit.’ Students sometimes miss the opportunity to focus their efforts on finding the school that best ‘fits’ them, and instead focus on finding ways to ‘reach’ a school. To get to these dream schools, families may consider hiring outside help. However, your UWCSEA advisor has the context of the UWC experience, the insight from decades of working with our student outcomes, a deep understanding of the university admissions process, and relationships with peers and universities around the world.

Robbie Jefferiss, University Advisor, East CampusRobbie Jefferiss
University Advisor, East Campus

Robbie Jefferiss joined the UAC team in 2014 after working at several schools internationally and in the US as a school counsellor and in admissions at a UK university.
Highlight: One part of the job that Robbie truly enjoys is going to visit university campuses all over the world. “When visiting so many campuses, it is remarkable to see that they each have their own ‘feel’ or ‘culture.’ When walking around, the names and faces of my students appear in my mind and I think ‘That student would be a great fit here!’ Meanwhile, these visits also allow us to build relationships with the university admissions officers and learn about the trends they are seeing or any new institutional priorities they may have in terms of the types or students they are looking to admit.

Pamela Kelly Wetzell, Head of University Advising, East CampusPamela Kelly Wetzell
Head of University Advising, East Campus

Pamela joined Dover in 2010 and moved to East in 2012 to build the UAC in anticipation of the first graduating class in 2014. Pamela practised law in the US before moving to Asia over 20 years ago, founding a small international school in Phuket before moving to UWCSEA. She is also a mentor for IACAC’s Scholar Mentor Program.
Highlight: Naviance Family Connection is a powerful university and career information and application management platform. Students access it in PSE time from Grade 10 to explore interests, strengths and potential careers, and it allows them to research and create a list of potential universities. The UAC use it to send transcripts, references and supporting documents to many universities, and to collate and analyse past acceptance data in order to best advise students.

Joan Liu, University Advisor, East CampusJoan Liu
University Advisor, East Campus

Joan joined the East UAC team in 2013, after working in Turkey, England and the US. Joan was instrumental in launching the first ever Financial Aid Institute at the IACAC summer conference, helping international school counsellors learn more about financial aid and merit scholarships in various higher education systems around the world. In September 2016 she was presented with the Rising Star Award by NACAC at its national conference, for her leadership of the Scholar Mentor Program.
Highlight: Thinking about how to afford the cost of an education can be a daunting task, but UAC advisors are well-versed in guiding students and families toward resources that can help them make comparisons among options. The UAC team provides additional support to students and families for whom cost is a barrier to accessing higher education

Shruti Tewari, University Advisor, East CampusShruti Tewari
University Advisor, East Campus

Before joining UWCSEA to start up the East UAC in 2012, Shruti worked in Jakarta as a college counsellor and IBDP English teacher. She also spent three years as the Director of College Guidance at UWC Mahindra. Shruti began her career as an Upper School English teacher in New Jersey, USA.
Highlight: The UAC puts a great deal of effort into coordinating a wide-ranging support programme for students and families. Aside from hosting 300+ university visitors each year, both campuses offer a number of events to help students and families make informed choices, including support for specialised programmes, e.g., Art, Engineering, Law, Liberal Arts, Medicine, Music and a series of University Advisor-run workshop sessions to guide students in writing a UK-style personal statement and a US-style essay for applications.

A final reassurance

UWCSEA students are actively recruited by universities worldwide because of their excellent and rigorous academic preparation through the IBDP, their incredible range of interests and talents, but most importantly, because they embody the UWC mission and ethos. The UAC team take great pleasure in supporting students as they journey towards becoming graduates who are high-impact on the university campuses they attend. In the words of one university admissions representative: “In addition to bringing diverse cultural perspectives to campus, UWC students are making an impact in every area from academics to community engagement, service, and leadership. UWC students have won research grants in the sciences, written plays and choreographed dance shows, led service projects, … interned in campus departments and … companies, and been leaders in student government.”

14 Dec 2016
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