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Natalie Zamora is one of the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty honorees. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.
Natalie Zamora is one of the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty honorees. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.

2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty Honoree: Natalie Zamora

Natalie Zamora, Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, will be honored during the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty on Aug. 26.

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The third annual AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event serves to highlight and showcase some of the most diverse and impactful young professionals across the Philadelphia region. 

At this year's event, taking place Friday, Aug. 26, Natalie Zamora will be one of the 40 honorees. 

Biography

Natalie Zamora is the Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, where since she began in 2019, has played a key leadership role in the evaluation and selection process for the undergraduate class. In her role, she co-leads evaluation and selection training for staff, guides and oversees the admissions counselor, coordinates four different levels or pre-committees and full committees, and more. 

A recently-graduated master’s student, Zamora took on leadership roles in the Latin American Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (LAGAPSA), where she advocated for Latinx graduate student needs, established signature events to engage the Latinx community, and supported the needs of Latinx graduate students through the pandemic and back to in-person. 

Zamora is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania as a first-generation and low-income Latina. Once she graduated, she immediately started working with her alma mater's admissions office to help serve the communities she came from as an admissions officer, before transitioning to her current role with the University of Pennsylvania. 

As part of the lead-up to the AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event, AL DÍA asked each of the honorees a set of identical questions and collected their responses. 

Here are Natalie Zamora's responses: 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your professional career? 

Thus far, my biggest challenge has been nimbly navigating professional development as a young professional where I felt easily siloed in work deemed appropriate for younger individuals. Especially in a student-focused industry like higher education, what tends to happen is the closer you are to your personal college education, the more student-oriented work is given to you. The professional journey to build skills that are diverse and transferrable to other fields has been met with — likely unintentional — hurdles put in place by leadership mostly due to age. 

What are steps that can be taken to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in your industry? Why is it important to do so?

In recent years, enrollment within higher education has become more focused on DEI work as the demographics of who applies to college continues to shift. More first generation college students, students of color, and low income students are applying to college from parts of the country where population growth is taking place (South, West, etc.). This requires a new way of recruiting, evaluating, and yielding these students to our campus. Some steps that college enrollment and admissions teams should take, especially in the wake of the pandemic, include researching the behavior of these groups. How do certain areas of the country or demographics weigh in-person programming versus virtual? What types of programming (on-campus, virtual, in-person, etc.) can better answer the concerns this population has about attending college? How can we train application readers to better understand the nuances of experience these students have? After admission, what are the greatest concerns impeding enrollment (financial aid, enrollment fees, etc.)? As critical as it is to enroll a more diverse student community to college campuses, it takes intentionality on all fronts to do it successfully.

What does being a leader mean to you? 

I've learned that leadership is more than taking action. Being a successful leader involves active listening and intentional meditation. In whatever group you may be leading, your group has strengths that benefit the whole. Their thoughts, opinions, and questions need to be channeled through a leader to craft decisions that are complex and reflect the diversity of the group. People gain confidence in their abilities when their thoughts are heard and considered. Confident people make dynamic teams to lead. A leader should build on the talent of the team by making sure to listen and reflect.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I hope to shift my attention to how higher education impacts the world beyond a college campus. I hope to explore talent pipelines from college to companies and organizations, along with consulting for universities on the student life cycle. I hope to become a mother and grow through the challenges and rewards of parenting. Both of these visions for myself are important to share because my work motivates me, but my life is my purpose. The health of my marriage and my soon-to-be growing family is vital to my development as a professional.

The 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event will take place Friday, Aug. 26 at The Vie at Cescaphe. To learn more or purchase your ticket, click here

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