Abey T. Dessie, associate director of UNC Charlotte’s Levine Scholars Program, recently received the Myron G. Burney Award for Inclusion and Access. This honor, presented annually by the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling, recognizes an individual who has made a significant impact on the field of college admission counseling, with a focus on promoting inclusion and access.
In presenting the award, the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling recognized his six-year service as co-chair of the annual Charlotte Mini-Camp College, a free interactive college planning workshop designed for high school students from underrepresented and underserved populations. College admission professionals from institutions across the country lead workshops designed to help students navigate the college application process.
Secondly, Dessie, since 2015, has mentored local high school students through the nonprofit organization, Ethiopian Community Association of Charlotte and Surrounding Areas. Programming focuses on college readiness, leadership, service and cultural/heritage awareness.
Finally, Dessie was instrumental in implementing a self-nomination process for the Levine Scholars Program as a method to promote access. Previously, high school counselors nominated scholars, but with a national ratio of students to counselors of 435 to 1, some prospective candidates encountered a barrier to Charlotte’s premiere scholarship program for high-achieving students.
“In today's society, a college degree is a key to accessing viable career options and the mechanism for social mobility,” said Dessie. “This is why promoting access and inclusion is critical in the field of college admission counseling. For me, this work takes two forms. One is ensuring that all students and families have the necessary information and guidance to navigate the ever more complex college search and admission process. The second is for colleges and universities to continuously evaluate their processes and remove barriers or provide support.”
A graduate of East Carolina University, Dessie has worked in higher education admissions for more than 10 years; he was senior assistant director and assistant director of undergraduate admissions at UNC Charlotte prior to joining the Levine Scholars Program in July 2018.
The Southern Association for College Admission Counseling includes school counselors, college admission officers and independent counselors from high schools, colleges and organizations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the Caribbean. It is an affiliate of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), which represents over 10,000 members worldwide.