Staff Profile: College and Career Specialist Emi Abe


By Siobhan King

Hygge is a Danish word that means “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” When asked about her dream job, Tamalpais High School’s college and career specialist Emi Abe said that it would be to own a cafe that encompasses this feeling. 

“Imagine a candle, a warm cup of tea or hot cocoa, a cat, a good book. That kind of feeling and just having that in a place for people,” Abe said. While Abe spoke of this idea as a seemingly unrealistic dream, she failed to realize that she had already achieved this. Tam’s College and Career Center (CCC) may not have a complimentary barista, warm candles throughout the room, or cats roaming around the building, but it still embraces the feeling of hygge that Abe strives for. 

Gabby Brandt, a senior at Tam, says that she has had nothing but positive experiences with Abe and the CCC. “Immediately upon walking in it feels like it’s not a high-pressure environment … there’s [students] seeking help, it’s very comfortable, there’s a bunch of people walking around to see if you need anything,” Brandt said. Brandt and fellow senior, Avi Perl, both described Abe’s personality and energy as “welcoming” and “comforting”.

Within the last two years, Abe has implemented changes and ideas that have allowed the CCC to grow immensely. She started working at Tam during COVID-19—a time when the CCC was in desperate need of a revitalization. 

“My position had a lot of turnover in the last two years. I think I was actually the third person within a year,” Abe said. “I recognize that a lot of the current students haven’t gotten the same level of support [since] it was kind of inconsistent between lots of people changing, with virtual learning and with coming back [to in-person]. I want to be able to provide them with the support they need and also create new things and work around that.”

Abe’s daily routine is filled with college representative visits, student meetings, drop-in discussions, college essay editing, and lots and lots of emails. In addition to the college aspect of her job, Abe also helps with issuing work permits and helping students discover jobs and other career-related opportunities. She juggles all of these responsibilities while also running the CCC Instagram account and keeping its followers up-to-date on all the day-to-day events being hosted as well as upcoming college application deadlines. After school, you will often find her at Bridge the Gap, a college preparation program in Marin City that offers educational, social, and emotional support to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“I start work at 7:30 and I’m technically on the clock until four, but I almost never leave at four,” Abe said. Despite how busy she is with all her responsibilities, Abe still always makes sure she has time to support any student who needs it.

“Working with [Abe] was very easy. I was surprised that I could just walk in and she was available to help me,” Perl said.

Abe is always working hard to ensure the CCC is thriving and helping as many students as possible. Her strong work ethic and passion is driven by her own experience of growing up in Marin. Abe stated that one of the biggest factors for her when taking on her role at Tam was that she had attended and graduated from Archie Williams High School.

“As someone who experienced inequities as a low-income student of color and who was treated a little bit differently throughout my time in Marin, I felt like I could help and be an advocate,” Abe said. One of the most rewarding aspects of Abe’s job has been the abundance of opportunities it’s given to her to offer guidance to students. Abe believes that being able to work face-to-face with students and help them achieve their goals is what makes the job worthwhile.

“Emi feels different from the rest of the staff at Tam because it really feels like she’s there to help you,” Brandt said, “She’s very much invested in our futures and she wants to help us get to that point.”

Abe’s ability to have these open and productive conversations with students can be partly credited to her age. Abe turned 25 this last spring, and her close proximity in age to students creates an approachability and relatability that most Tam faculty members lack. 

“It helps that [Abe’s] younger because I feel like she can relate to the kids at Tam more. I’ve noticed that’s why a lot of kids don’t particularly connect with other staff at Tam,” Perl said. Abe’s transparency about where she is in her own life creates a safe and welcoming environment for students where they feel comfortable to be vulnerable. 

“As someone who’s 25, I wouldn’t say I know what I specifically want to do with the rest of my life until I retire. I think that’s an important thing to let students know—that you don’t have to decide your life at 17,” Abe said. “That’s something I bring in a lot to my conversations with students.”

Abe has dedicated the majority of her time over the past two years to her work here at Tam and at the CCC. She has worked endlessly to provide better access to resources and to create opportunities for underprivileged students. However, Abe’s sedulous work ethic has led to her neglecting her life outside of Tam.

 “The Wellness personnel always say you can’t pour from an empty cup. And that is something I’ve definitely struggled with—putting myself first,” Abe said. She is seeking to be more intentional and mindful with how she spends her limited free time. Abe has recently enrolled in a yoga class at College of Marin, and is getting back into her passion for reading and bullet journaling. She also plans to pick up sewing, but just hasn’t had the time yet.

Everyday, Abe is helping students discover their goals and how to reach them. 

“There’s a lot of ways that we go back and forth in our life and I think that’s an important thing to talk about,”Abe said. While Abe doesn’t know exactly where she will be in 10 years from now, she hopes that she will still be able to do work that offers support for others.

Abe goes on to say, “However, if you asked me if money and talent weren’t a barrier … I would absolutely love to have my own coffee shop.” 

It was after this confession that Abe went on to describe to me the meaning of hygge, as well as pull up example photos on her computer. It became clear to me that Abe had already accomplished this dream. She has taken the College and Career Center and turned it into a place where students feel comfortable to reach out for help and know that they would be greeted with nothing but kindness and support. Abe has created a space that embraces the true meaning of hygge.