Chloe Strickland ’17
Chloe Strickland ’17

Chloe Strickland ’17: Speaking Up

A college counselor opens doors for her students through life lessons and a deep connection to Scranton.

Chloe Strickland ’17, associate director of college and career counseling at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, often shares a critical piece of advice with her students that she learned during her undergraduate days at Scranton: Speak up.

“Always speak up,” she said on her afternoon commute home from Cristo Rey, a Catholic high school in the Cristo Rey network of high schools that serves students from low-income families in the Philadelphia area. “If you don’t speak up, you’re not going to get your needs met. I had a hard time doing that.”

And, since her Scranton days, Strickland, who recently earned a master’s degree in school counseling and clinical mental health counseling from the University of Pennsylvania, has made a career out of speaking up for the nearly 200 students she serves annually at Cristo Rey, dedicating her professional life to meeting their present and future educational needs.

“I’ve always wanted to help others,” she said. “Seeing my students go off to college and helping them get through the college application and the whole financial aid process is definitely heartwarming.”

The Best Fit

Although Strickland grew up in Scranton as the daughter of a University staff member (her mother, Sheila, is a records analyst in the Office of the Registrar & Academic Services), she initially wasn’t sure the University was the right place for her.

“I struggled academically in high school,” she said. “I really thought . . . I wasn’t going to be college material.”

Strickland said her school counselor at Scranton High School helped her through this difficult period by supporting and inspiring her.

“My school counselor definitely shaped me into the person I am today,” she said. “(She) took me under her wing and was a shoulder to cry on in times of stress or whenever I needed someone.”

After visiting campus and observing all that Scranton had to offer, including its retreat programs, its student organizations and its intramural sports, she decided she wanted to become a Royal.

“I knew this was the best fit for me my senior year in high school,” she said.

As a participant in Campus Ministries’ F.I.R.S.T. (First-years Involved In Reflective Service Together) program, a five-day retreat in which 40 incoming first-year students serve the greater Scranton community prior to Fall Welcome, she dove headfirst into the Scranton experience, and it made an indelible impression upon her.

“Caring for the person as a whole is something I still go by to this day,” she said of learning about cura personalis at the retreat. “I also made 40 new friends.”

"Put yourself out there, be open and ask questions. You won’t get the answer if you don’t."

Strickland majored in counseling and human services; she also participated in a host of extracurricular and work opportunities, including playing intramural basketball, joining the Counseling Club (she eventually became its vice president), working as a Conference and Events assistant and acting as a campus tour guide. Although she initially struggled academically, she learned how to “speak up” for herself by utilizing the University’s Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) Writing Center, a safe space where students can work on papers and assignments while receiving help from well-trained peer consultants. At first, she said she felt ashamed for seeking assistance, but she soon realized that knowing when and how to ask for help is an invaluable skill in its own right, a lesson she tries to instill in her students today.

“Put yourself out there, be open and ask questions,” she said. “ You won’t get the answer if you don’t.”

Opening Doors

After graduating, Strickland volunteered at the Cristo Rey Philadelphia Service Corps as a college counselor for a one-year term of service, a position that combined her passion for service with her skills as a counselor. After the term of service ended, she took a job as a secretary at another organization but found the work to be unfulfilling. A few months later, she received a job offer from Cristo Rey, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“For the short time I was not working at Cristo Rey, I wasn’t happy,” she said.

That commitment to Cristo Rey and her love for Scranton recently collided when she led a group of her students on a campus visit to the University. The reason for the visit was twofold: to introduce her students to her alma mater and to help promote The Opening Doors Scholarship, a new fund that serves students from the Cristo Rey network and students from other similar institutions who have demonstrated financial need by closing the gap of any unmet financial needs after all other sources of financial aid and scholarship have been determined. Strickland “spoke up” in a series of videos that introduced the scholarship to the University community on 5.06.22, the University’s 8th Annual Day of Giving, and she hopes it will continue to provide future students with the opportunity of a lifetime.

“The scholarship definitely opened a lot of doors for these students in terms of them seeing that they can afford this great education at The University of Scranton, and their families won’t have to worry about that (financial) stress,” she said. “This opportunity is amazing.”

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Opening Doors with Chloe Strickland ’17

Chloe Strickland ’17, associate director of college and career counseling at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, talks "Opening Doors."

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