Each year, National School Counseling Week is celebrated during the first week of February—this year, from February 5-9, 2024—and brings awareness to the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems and their impact on student behavior. This year’s theme, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association, is “School Counseling: Standards-Based, Student-Focused.” This theme highlights school counselors who implement comprehensive school counseling programs.
At YES Prep, all campuses have student support counselors and college counselors, specifically at the secondary level. Our student support counselors provide students social, emotional and mental health support during their time at YES Prep. While college counselors offer students guidance in planning for life after high school graduation.
We asked several of our counselors to share why they chose this profession and the impact their role has had on our YES Prep students and families.
Javier Osornio, YES Prep Northwest Secondary
Javier Osornio was born and raised in San Juan del Rio, Queretaro, Mexico. He earned his bachelor's degree in business administration marketing from the University of Houston and a Master of Education with an Educational Leadership distinction from Northern Arizona University. Osornio joined YES Prep almost seven years ago and currently serves as the Director of College Counseling at Northwest Secondary, home of the Hawks.
Osornio became a counselor because he believes in the importance and value of pursuing a higher education, especially when it comes to the younger generation. As a first-generation student himself, he shares that although he has faced challenges like learning a new language and moving to a different country, a good educational system has been a key factor in his success. Osornio plays a key role in shaping a student’s future by teaching students the ins and outs of college admissions, providing financial aid preparation, academic advising and more. When asked about the best part of his job, he shared, “At the core of my purpose, you will find the passion that drives me to create and cultivate a culture among students, teachers, staff, family, management, administrators and anyone willing to provide our students and their families with more than just an educational opportunity, as I would call it - a life changing opportunity. I would say this is, in fact, the best part of making this possible for our students while creating lasting relationships with our students, families, teachers, staff and our community at large.”
Natalia Palmarini, YES Prep Southeast Secondary
Natalia Palmarini was born and raised in New York City. She earned her bachelor's degree in communication with a concentration in Organization Communication and a minor in Sustainable Development from Villanova University. Palmarini joined YES Prep three years ago and currently serves as a college counselor as well as an instructor for senior seminar and student government at Southeast Secondary, home of the Wizards.
As a college counselor, Palmarini helps build a trajectory not only for her students but their families. Her model is rooted in putting the wants and desires of the students first and creating a path for students to chase their dreams. When asked about the best part of her job, she shared, “The best part of my job is seeing students recognize their worth. Things like their first acceptance, getting a scholarship and receiving awards allows me to help them take a step back and say, "I did that". They glow when they realize it is all theirs. That alone is worth everything.”
Rocquelle Porch, YES Prep Southside Secondary
Rocquelle Porch was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She earned her bachelor's degree in English Literature from Dillard University and Texas Southern University and earned a Master of Arts in Digital Media Studies from the University of Houston- Clear Lake. Porch joined YES Prep nine years ago and currently serves as a college counselor at Southside Secondary, home of the Giants.
Porch became a college counselor because she wants her Southside students to have the support they need as they prepare for their post-secondary pathway, something she wishes she had. Her role ensures that students and their families leave YES Prep feeling like they have a post-secondary plan, since many of the students are the first in their families to go through the college application process, which can be overwhelming. Through her role, students and families know they are not going through the process alone. When asked about the best part of her job, she shared, “The best part of my job is seeing the look on students’ faces when they get a four-year college acceptance! Whether their desired pathway is college, military, or direct-to-work, they feel pride in knowing that college is an option.”
Student Support Counselors
Qwatosha Bessellieu, YES Prep Brays Oaks Secondary
Qwatosha Bessellieu was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Johnson C. Smith University and her Master of Social Work from the University of Houston. Bessellieu joined YES Prep three years ago and currently serves as a middle school student support counselor at Brays Oaks Secondary, home of the Cavaliers.
Bessellieu became a student support counselor because she understands the importance of having and knowing that someone cares. When asked about the best part of her job, she shared, “The best part of my job is seeing the students grow and further develop their mental health and well-being. I love when students begin using their coping skills on their own, and our check-ins become more maintenance than crisis management.”
Antoinette Tate, YES Prep Brays Oaks Secondary
Antoinette Tate was born and raised in Galveston, Texas. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work and her Master of Arts in Counseling from Prairie View A&M University. Tate joined YES Prep only two years ago and currently serves as a high school student support counselor at Brays Oaks, home of the Cavaliers.
Tate was inspired to become a student support counselor because of the school counselor she had when she was in high school, who helped her navigate through some painful moments and helped her believe college was an attainable goal for her. Now, she can do the same for her students going through similar things. Tate shares that she’s had opportunities to provide support to families in the form of resources or restorative practices. She shared, “Being able to facilitate resolution for students to guardians has been very fulfilling for me.” When asked about the best part of her job, she said, “The best part of my job is building relationships with students. Building that foundational trust and acceptance makes them feel safe and secure while addressing major hierarchy of needs.”
Natalie Tristan, YES Prep Airline Elementary
Natalie Tristan was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health counseling from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Tristan joined YES Prep a year and a half ago and currently serves as a student support counselor at Airline Elementary, home of the SPARKS.
Tristan chose to become an elementary counselor because she has the opportunity to build a foundation of social and emotional learning skills. Skills that can help her students in their early years as they transition into adolescence and adulthood. Her role matters to her because she can identify and break barriers through the relationships she has with her students and families. When asked about the best part of her job, she shared, “The best part of my job is being able to connect with students daily and be a safe space for them. I get to be the leading face of kindness and acceptance for our students.”
Thank you, Javier Osornio, Natalia Palmarini, Rocquelle Porch, Qwatosha Bessellieu, Antoinette Tate and Natalia Tristan for the work you do to make sure our students have the tools and skills they need to succeed.
YES Prep wishes you and all our college counselors and student support counselors a happy National School Counseling Week!
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About National School Counseling Week
National School Counseling Week is celebrated during the first week of February each year, and in 2024, it was observed from February 5-9. This week is dedicated to raising awareness about the unique contributions of school counselors within U.S. school systems and their impact on student behavior. The theme for this year's National School Counseling Week, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association, is "School Counseling: Standards-Based, Student-Focused." This theme aims to highlight school counselors who implement comprehensive school counseling programs [].
Role of School Counselors at YES Prep
At YES Prep, all campuses have student support counselors and college counselors, specifically at the secondary level. Student support counselors at YES Prep provide students with social, emotional, and mental health support during their time at the institution. On the other hand, college counselors offer guidance to students in planning for life after high school graduation, including college admissions, financial aid preparation, academic advising, and more [].
College Counselors at YES Prep
Several college counselors at YES Prep were highlighted for their dedication and impact on students and families. Javier Osornio, Natalia Palmarini, and Rocquelle Porch are college counselors at YES Prep Northwest Secondary, Southeast Secondary, and Southside Secondary, respectively. They play a crucial role in shaping students' futures by providing guidance on college admissions, financial aid preparation, academic advising, and more. Their work is focused on creating and cultivating a culture among students, teachers, staff, and families to provide students with life-changing opportunities. They also help students recognize their worth and achieve their dreams [].
Student Support Counselors at YES Prep
Student support counselors at YES Prep, such as Qwatosha Bessellieu, Antoinette Tate, and Natalie Tristan, are dedicated to the social, emotional, and mental well-being of students. They help students grow and develop their mental health and well-being, provide support to families, and build foundational trust and acceptance with students. Their work involves facilitating resolution for students and guardians and being a leading face of kindness and acceptance for students [].
National School Counseling Week is an important time to recognize and appreciate the significant contributions of school counselors in supporting the well-being and academic success of students. The dedication and impact of college counselors and student support counselors at YES Prep demonstrate the crucial role they play in shaping the futures of students and families, providing them with the tools and skills they need to succeed.