Harry R. Carroll Award Speech 2020


For the last 20 years I have always enjoyed sitting in the audience for the presentation of this award, listening with anticipation as the presenter keeps you in suspense and slowly reveals more about the deserving recipient each year.  Well, that will be tough this year because this person is one of a kind, so I will try my best to keep it a secret for as long as possible!

Looking at the characteristics of Harry Carroll, the award’s namesake, the traits of:

-fair play
-good humor

-leadership and guidance 

stand out for this year’s recipient, as does commitment to ethical standards.  

To start with leadership and guidance: throughout this person’s time in New England ACAC they have been a mentor to many. They have both held leadership roles and lead by example, giving folks new to the profession a chance to see how it should be done. Always willing to make time for you, lend an ear, and never short for words, they’ve held many roles within our community and in other related associations. Serving as President of NEACAC, Finance Chair, NACAC Assembly Delegate, on Summer Institute (more on that later) and the Advanced Secondary School Summer Institute and on the College Board’s guidance and admission council.  This person has also mentored and supported many staff as they, too, grew in the field and now manage their own offices, or those who work to make a difference in different admission-related Associations. This person’s enthusiasm and commitment to doing the right thing for the students also reflects Harry Carroll’s characteristics of fair play and ethical standards. This person's moral compass is strong and they argue passionately with anyone who stands in the way of access for students- reading for the Gates Scholarship Program in its infancy, a firm believer in test-optional admission and always pushing for need-blind admission – even if that means taking on the president of a college! 

While we’ve only had this person in New England for about 20 years, their reputation preceded them. As a matter of fact, in my very first year of admissions, on one of my very first road trips, I was told to look for this person while recruiting in their state and was told they would answer questions or give me advice as needed.  And for 22 years they have!  

When this person first arrived in New England I was glad to see them at an LDI for NEACAC and even more excited when this person said they were there because they were the new chair for what we now know to be Summer Institute.  Apparently there had been a few job/leadership changes and the Institute needed to be rebuilt. Having been a long time leader of this type of institute in another state, the person was tapped to re-organize ours into what we all now know it to be today and agreed to be chair for two years to really secure the new structure.  Am I starting to give it away?

If I haven’t yet, this next characteristic might - good humor. Not only does this person have a strong moral compass, they also wear their heart on their sleeve and absolutely 100% do not have a poker face. As the spouse of a former admission counselor who captured their heart in the early days of a travel season years ago and the parent of three boys, family is the other thing that this person radiates a deep love, passion and excitement for. Well, there is one other thing…college basketball.  Watch a televised game that this person attends and you will see what I mean!   Anyone who works with or around this person knows how they are feeling, especially when they get excited about something. It is hard not to laugh when you’re in their presence. Comments like “how much is this going to cost me?” when you tell him you have an idea, or “It’s FINE” when you know it’s really not, or the all-time favorite “you’re killing me smalls!” help those around him to know exactly what direction we’re going in or how to proceed. 

His late nights on the dance floor at conferences or trips to piano bars at NACAC with anyone who is willing to find one with him help people to see how we should all take our work seriously but not ourselves.

His reach is far and long lasting. Recently, he received an email from a student that he helped get into college during one of his very first years as a counselor. She found him and reached out to say thank you for the kindness and support that she needed in a way he would’ve never known that she did back then. As a result, she became a school counselor and is helping students to fill their dreams as well. He was so moved by this note and couldn’t believe that somebody would take the time to say thank you like that. Personally, I’m surprised that more haven’t.  As a matter of fact, if we were in person today, I would ask those of you out there who have been mentored in some way, big or small, by him to stand up because I think by this point you all know that I am talking about our very own Raul Fonts.

Raul, thank you for your service to NEACAC, for mentoring so many in our profession and showing them how to do the right thing, and for making a difference in the lives of thousands of students over the years.  Your leadership, good humor, and passion, have left an indelible mark.


Amy Cembor
Senior Associate Dean of Admission, Providence College