A counselor from the Herbert G. Hopwood Middle School was named yesterday as the 2019 CNMI State Counselor.
Jillian Pladevega, a Hopwood counselor for six years now, was declared the state Counselor of the Year awardee in a ceremony at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan.
“It’s a blessing,” Pladevega said in an interview. “I wouldn’t be able to stay in this position without the help and support of my counseling team and [the Hopwood] administration.”
Pladevega, who graduated from the Northern Marianas College in 2009 and started out her career in the PSS Head Start program, is also the department chair of the counseling department at Hopwood, which has four counselors.
“It takes more than just me. [Counseling] takes a lot out of you and, just like teachers, we need a lot of help. If you have a very supportive administration…even though we are not in the same building, they are still a support system,” she said, referring to Hopwood principal Rizalina Liwag, PSS associate commissioner for Student and Support Services Boni R. Pangelinan, and her three counseling colleagues at Hopwood.
Part of being a counselor, according to Pladevega, includes the varying scenarios a day’s work can bring.
“Each day is very different in the counseling life,” she said. “You have to be ready for whatever hits you.”
“Sometimes I can be with a student for hours and sometimes I can be with multiple students for under an hour.” Patience is key. “Making sure that [students] feel that they can come up to you is very important,” she said.
Pangelinan describes Pladevega as “energetic and always into new ideas and learning.”
“She is one of the counselors who is really on board with trying new things and becoming better at what she does,” she said. “We are very pleased and happy that she has been given this recognition.”
Pangelinan noted that it can be difficult to be a counselor at the middle school level since it is usually the gap between being children and being an adolescent.
“There are so many changes physically and emotionally [during this stage], so it really takes a lot of heart to be a school counselor at this level,” Pangelinan said.
Education Commissioner Glenn Muña noted in a separate interview that, while he had been in contact with Pladevega only in a professional setting, based on their two- to three-year working relationship, he believes she is very approachable.
“She is always very bubbly, always very understanding,” said Muña. “Even though I don’t know her much [outside of the professional setting], it’s like we’ve known each other forever—that’s how easy it is to get along with her,” he said.
“She really cares for the students that she serves and is very passionate about her job.”