Susan Gertman Offers Guidance in the College and Career Center


By Emma Sandrolini

Susan Gertman, the head of the college and career center, has been serving students at Tam for nine years. She gives guidance on college, financial aid, internships, and sends out emails about every other day to make sure seniors are on the right track. She provides the information they need to succeed as a student in high school and the first year of college, regardless of the financial situation of their family.

However, Gertman didn’t begin her career in education services; in fact, she has quite an extensive journalistic background. “My first job [during] college was [at] a small community newspaper in Boston, where I’m from, the Chelsea Record,” Gertman said. “I was a police reporter, then worked in educational and social services.” After these jobs, Gertman worked at Boston University as a medical writer and then, a PR agency. “Then [my family] came [to Mill Valley] and I spent time raising a family and did some freelance writing,” Gertman said. “Then I wanted a change. I got a Master’s in career counseling at San Francisco State. I wanted something different and I liked the one-on-one [aspect of counseling]. I was interested in how people make career decisions,” she said.

After Gertman earned her Master’s degree, she worked at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley with the Administration Director. Her job experience with career counseling began when she completed internships at SF State and Tam, under Sarah Pruden, her predecessor. After this, she started her full-time career in the College and Career Center.

“I came here because I think Tam is a great place. I enjoyed the internship and these opportunities don’t come here often, so I jumped on it,” Gertman said.

Though Gertman works mostly with juniors and seniors, students are introduced to Gertman’s aid their first year and may continue to receive help from Gertman as a sophomore. Freshmen come to the College and Career Center as part of their Social Issues class to earn community service hours. “I introduce them and talk to them about the importance of working hard in the beginning,” Gertman said. “I let them know no matter the income, they can find scholarships to continue their education.”

Gertman holds events including Financial Aid Night, Junior Night, Post High School Planning Night, Essay Writing Workshops, UC/CSU Workshops, PSAT and Early Action Workshops. These workshops led by Gertman help parents and students prepare themselves for college or other post-high school options. Though these workshops were available to students before Gertman came to Tam, they became much more publicized and accessible due to her.

“My predecessor had meetings and put [the application] on the projector screen, but I changed it so students could do [application] online in the lab the first year I was here 04 to 05,” she said. “College admissions night was also established [at Tam].”

What Gertman has noticed in through her years at Tam is the greater desire to learn about financial aid options. “Financial aid is talked about now more than ever,” Gertman said. “Out-of- state public school in [the] West is more popular because they’re more economical than [a] UC or as economical as [a] CSU. California is an expensive state to go to college [in].” Another pattern Gertman sees is the increasing class sizes. “When my son was a senior [at Tam] the class size was 225 and now [the] senior class is 291….That’s a whole lot more.,” Gertman said. “If this pattern continues, something is going to have to change. My workload has gotten bigger as class sizes [have] gotten bigger, but it shouldn’t be a problem in the next few years.”

Outside of Tam, Gertman is a movie and book lover and enjoys hiking and visiting her friends. “I guess I’d say Annie Hall [is my favorite movie], I’ve seen that one the most.” Though Gertman has a love for movies, she equally loves to read. “I read a lot of books. The books I have read the most recently are Season of the Witch and The Book Thief.”

Gertman also has an extensive travel history, and aspires to travel to more places. “I spent a semester of college at Paris. I’ve also visited Ecuador…lots of biodiversity there. I’ve also visited Aub Dahbi,” she said. Places she aspires to visit are Turkey, North Africa, India and Japan.

When asked if her hard work was appreciated by students and parents, Gertman blushed, putting her hand over her mouth. Taking a pause, she said, “All I can say is…..there are many jobs you….It’s always nice to be appreciated.” It’s helping the students that motivates her hard work. “My goal is really the students and helping the students and to have them see that it’s possible to continue education. That’s what’s rewarding.”

Gertman also believes the most satisfying part of her job is seeing students individually.  “I like seeing students one-on-one and talk about their hopes and dreams,” she said. Grinning, she added, “April is always exciting to see what [seniors] have done.”

Her favorite memories that come with her job at the College and Career Center are when she sees Tam students who are college graduates. “…When students come back [from college] and tell me I would’ve never thought of going here if you never told be about it. That’s very satisfying. Also, when students tell me that they can go to college because of financial aid.That’s also satisfying.”