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Where Are They Now?

Graduate From First Class Now A Counselor At Plano Senior High School

Vanessa Hundley

Vanessa Hundley

In life, timing is everything. Ask Collin County Community College District alumna Vanessa Hundley. When she arrived late for her college graduation, the ceremony had ended. But that did not stop Hundley, now a licensed professional counselor at Plano Senior High School, from pursuing her educational dreams.

Hundley was a member of the very first graduating class at CCCCD in 1987. “Back then, 12 students made up the graduating class,” said Hundley. “Somehow, I got the graduation time wrong, and I literally missed it. I did get my Honors ropes that day, thanks to the registrar, and I did get my degree.”

Making the grade
Hundley’s start at the college was the first step towards reaching her goal of becoming a counselor. “I knew I wanted to be in a field where I helped people,” said Hundley. She now is responsible for assisting about 350 students at Plano Senior High School. “When I attended the college, I was a non-traditional student in my thirties. The encouragement and support I received from my professors did as much for me as the education itself. Academically, I felt prepared to go the next step.”

The first in her family to attend college, Hundley said she was naïve about what it would take to be accepted into a university. Then, one of her instructors at CCCCD told her about a program at the University of North Texas. With an Associate of Arts degree from CCCCD in hand, Hundley transferred to the University of North Texas and was accepted into the prestigious Meadows Excellence in Teaching program. She went on to earn three more degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Education, a Master of Education in Secondary Education and a Master of Education in Counseling.

Coming full circle
Now, as a counselor, Hundley finds it rewarding to encourage high school students and help them pick their educational paths, much like she was encouraged in college. Hundley remembers her CCCCD professor’s suggestion to consider UNT and believes you never know when a certain nugget of information will be a student’s goldmine. “My experience at CCCCD was such a positive one. Because there are many different routes students can take to reach their goals, I let many of them know about the programs the college offers,” said Hundley.

Lauren Clegg, now a senior at PSHS, first met Hundley when she was a sixth grade counselor at Wilson Middle School. Now her counselor in high school, Clegg said that Hundley helped her realize the importance of becoming involved and encouraged her to become active in student congress and student council. “She is just a really great counselor. She wants us all to do well and feel good about ourselves.”

Lending support makes a difference
Longtime colleague and friend Nancy Boyd, who is the director of guidance for Plano Independent School District, has seen Hundley blossom professionally. She credits CCCCD with starting Hundley on a successful educational journey. In fact, it was Boyd who encouraged Hundley to go to college. They even went together to register for Hundley’s first college classes. “I wanted Vanessa to gain the assurance that she was capable of doing college-level work,” said Boyd. “I knew that at CCCCD she would get the education she needed to go on to a university and that she would be in a supportive, caring environment.”

Taking the next step
Hundley said that counseling high school students has helped her realize that goals are important at every stage in life. “We forget as we get older that goals keep us motivated and excited about what we do. I believe that you are never too old to learn something new and take on a new challenge.”

What is Hundley’s next challenge? “I’d like to complete my certification for principalship and eventually work toward becoming an assistant principal either in the Plano Independent School District or another district. It may be a long way off, but the timing for me to start is right.”