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When My Student Lost his Parent, I Knew I Had to be More Than a Counselor

Written by Ragini Dangwal, our high impact counselor at UC

At University Connection, we strive to be the “third parent”, “mentor” or simply play the role of a close “friend”. These are some of the few titles that are given to us every year, as we take up the career guidance for students.

While parents confide in us and share their deepest concerns and worries about their child, students reach out to us only to be heard. As easy as it sounds, this makes our job a bit hard. After all, we’re dealing with human emotions and not machines!

I bonded with one such lovely parent who not only wanted the best for his son but was very involved throughout this journey of mentorship. From catch-up calls every morning, checking his inbox regularly to working on his applications, the father was always supporting us and ensuring a perfect relationship between parent and counselor.

Unfortunately, in the month of January this year, he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and passed away. That was also the time when the mother tested positive for Covid due to which their daughter in the US was unable to visit home. Being the amazing man that he truly was, it was only natural that we as a team wanted to take full responsibility and help the family in this tough time.

What did we do?

  • Made a Whatsapp group between the student’s sister, student, and his counselors: This group was simply an effort to share updates and keep in touch with the family on a regular basis. In the group, we spoke about webinars by universities, deadlines, and much more.
  • Connected to the school: It was our duty to reach out to the school principal and counselor, apprising them of the recent developments and also asking them to write to the universities about the family situation. Simultaneously, we updated them on the number of offers and scholarships the student received.
  • Booked a spot for a zoom call with international admissions of their dream university: A mock interview was conducted to prep the student for the call and be ready with questions that he can ask the admissions counselor in terms of accommodation, tuition fee, and scholarships.
  • Tried to get scholarships: Scholarships go a long way in lessening the financial burden, especially during a time as difficult as this family was going through. We wrote to a few universities requesting recommendations on scholarships open to prospective international students.

The best part was when the student’s sister reacted by saying, “I had a really good experience with you.”  Small efforts indeed make a big difference. Career guidance for students cannot be taken lightly. As counselors today, we are trying to find a way to connect with students in a virtual setting. Safeguarding the mental and physical welfare of ourselves and everyone else in our community is of utmost importance. Now, more than ever is time to become comforters-in-chief. We’ve got this. We can do this!

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