They say that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s perfectly fine with Frank Cabrera, who has made a really strong first impression. Frank, who is Brooklyn Friends School’s new Director of College Counseling, was recently honored by the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools (ACCIS) with the inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Champion Award.
The fact that Frank was honored by his peers just days into his first school year comes as no surprise at BFS.
“We feel blessed to have Frank within our community,” said BFS Head of School, Crissy Cáceres. “In his interview process, Frank named in various ways the core nature of social justice work in his life. He had concrete examples of his immersion in DEI work both within the world of college counseling and beyond. As such, this well-deserved award makes all the sense in the world.”
The DE&I Champion Award is presented to an ACCIS member with more than five years of college counseling experience who have engaged in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives in their school community and beyond the institutional level. They must demonstrate a deep understanding of and commitment to DE&I work as an educator.
“I was in total shock,” Frank said about finding out he had received the DE&I Champion Award. “I am on the DE&I committee for ACCIS and one of our new initiatives is to recognize both newer and seasoned college counselors who have demonstrated a deep commitment to DE&I work. I was really excited to shine the spotlight on the incredible work so many within our membership are engaged in. … So when I heard my name as one of the two honorees, I was floored. I awkwardly danced on my chair because I didn’t know what else to do. I don’t love being recognized, so admittedly, it was a little awkward. However, I allowed myself the opportunity to soak it in and enjoy the moment.”
Frank was honored alongside his friend and former colleague, Beth Pili of Spence School. The official press release announcing the award, made it very clear why Frank was selected for this first-ever DE&I Champion Award. “This duo brings energy, expertise, and empathy to every presentation, which has connected time and again with ACCIS members. Their thoughtful presentations use history, statistics, and data to help educators better understand how their participation in conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion improve our school communities. Their presentations make you think and make you want to grow.”
DE&I work has always been a critical aspect of Frank’s professional life.
“It is the cornerstone of every single part of my day. I’m constantly thinking about how I can best engage in my work and throughout the school while centering on equity, justice, and belonging,” Frank said. “It’s important for me to think about how my counseling can be responsive to the needs of students, given the ways they navigate the world. The counseling elements of college counseling are just as important to me as advising students through the college process. I want my students to feel seen and affirmed. Therefore, I’m constantly assessing how I can do that, be it through individual meetings or creating policies that effectively address the needs of our community. Additionally, part of the reason why I enjoy working in schools is that I know how much representation matters for young people. I try my best to live in my authentic self as a queer Latino, as a first-generation college graduate, and as a child of immigrants, to show students what it means to live unapologetically–and how incredibly liberating it is to do so.”