Home / Community Board / Congratulations to “Counselors That Change Lives” 2021 Award Winners Allie Cooper, Sam Ritter, and Matt Ybarra

Congratulations to “Counselors That Change Lives” 2021 Award Winners Allie Cooper, Sam Ritter, and Matt Ybarra

Santa Fe Preparatory School is proud to announce that three members of the Prep team have earned “Counselors That Change Lives” awards for 2021. Allie Cooper, Sam Ritter, and Matt Ybarra are among the 12 honorees who work in education across the United States to have received this important designation; and they are the only award recipients from the same school to be recognized this year.

“Counselors That Change Lives” awards are granted each year by Colleges That Change Lives, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the ideal of a student-centered college search. Admission officers at CTCL-member colleges and universities nominate counselors who are dedicated to students and their success, not only during the college search but throughout their entire high school career and beyond. “By helping students frame their search beyond the ratings and rankings to find a college that provides the foundation for a successful and fulfilling life,” CTCL describes, “these counselors change lives.”

At Santa Fe Prep, Allie Cooper serves as Executive Director of Breakthrough Santa Fe, a tuition-free academic and experiential program that serves students from under-resourced schools and communities throughout northern New Mexico, supporting them from sixth grade through college. Many of these students are the first in their families to attend college. Sam Ritter is the Director of the Davis New Mexico Scholarship Program, which creates and strengthens pathways to higher education for all first-generation college-going students and supports them as they earn bachelor’s degrees and become economically self-sufficient. Matt Ybarra is Santa Fe Prep’s Associate Director of College Counseling. In this role, he often collaborates with College Horizons, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Questbridge, and other programs that improve college access and retention for students from low-income, first-generation, and minority backgrounds.

Please join us in congratulating Allie, Sam, and Matt on this well-deserved recognition for their vital work. Read more about them in their Counselors That Change Lives winner profiles here:

Allie Cooper — Breakthrough Santa Fe (NM)
Understanding students’ needs in the admission process takes many forms. Allie Cooper works with Sam Ritter, to bring a Case Study program to their students. Then they went a step further and found Spanish-speaking college reps to make the program accessible to more parents and guardians. Allie’s work with first-generation, and often underrepresented students, has increased participation in Breakthrough Santa Fe’s six-year advising program, giving more students the chance to learn about liberal arts colleges. “Her work around fundraising, community support, case studies, and parental involvement is instrumental in helping these students see college opportunities in and beyond New Mexico!”

Sam Ritter — Davis New Mexico Scholarship (NM)
Sam Ritter is the first award recipient jointly nominated in the same year by two CTCL-member schools. His work with the Davis New Mexico Scholarship gives him special insight into the needs of first-generation, BIPOC students who have great talents, have a lot to offer colleges, and also need that extra encouragement to see themselves on that path. With a mission to ensure students find the right fit for their educational opportunities, Sam guides families through every step of the application process, helping them navigate the unique hiccups that they may experience throughout college. “With tips, workshops, and advice along the way, he has designed a program that empowers students to apply to college, even if they don’t win the scholarship.”

Matt Ybarra — Santa Fe Preparatory School (NM)
Matt Ybarra “represents the very best of our college counseling world and does so with enthusiasm, professionalism, and, most importantly, with incredible heart.” Counseling students to consider schools where they will thrive, Matt asks students to think beyond the known and to see themselves as ready for the adventure of college. His work “always goes above and beyond” for students, sharing his knowledge and experience not only with his official counseling load but also by collaborating with CBO leaders to support even more students in Santa Fe.