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La Jolla Heroines: Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz works to help students be confident in their competence

La Jollan Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz helps people gain admission to colleges by amplifying who they already are.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Longtime La Jolla resident Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz initially worked at UCSD helping women return to school and then transitioned to her own consulting company for students.

Much of La Jolla’s early advancement was fueled by prolific philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps. But many more women have followed in being important benefactors to La Jolla. This series by the Light highlights local women who have worked for decades to further the evolution of La Jolla and areas beyond.

Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz is firmly herself, and for decades she has encouraged others to amplify their own authenticity by emphasizing who they already are to get into the school of their dreams.

Hansen Shaevitz, a La Jolla resident since 1972, initially worked at UC San Diego helping women return to school via group counseling she said was focused on “how do you begin defining who you are and what you want to do?”

“They didn’t know how to do a bunch of things; they lacked the competencies to help them progress in what they wanted to do,” Hansen Shaevitz said. “So I created a situation that I called information interviews,” during which the women worked to discover what they wanted to do.

Hansen Shaevitz transitioned into opening a consulting company called AdMission Possible, which she still runs, helping students get into colleges and graduate programs with advice she’s cultivated over the years.

She also has served on college admissions councils and is a former chairwoman of the National Advisory Panel for Stanford University’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, along with spending 12 years as a trustee for La Jolla Country Day School.

Marjorie Hansen Shaevtiz has written books to help others be confident in their competence.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The author of “The Confident Woman,” “The Superwoman Syndrome” and “AdMission Possible: The ‘Dare to Be Yourself’ Guide for Getting into the Best Colleges for You” has spent much of her career delving into what women and students need to advance themselves. She spoke to the La Jolla Light about what she’s learned about success and how to be your own champion.

Q. How do you help students achieve success when applying to colleges?

A. “One of the things I found was that competencies are very, very important when it comes to anything you want to do. I make sure that they use this as a way to learn more about themselves: What do you really like to do? What are the academic areas that fit you?

“Their becoming knowledgeable about themselves is a big part of dealing with where you want to go to college.

“High school students are pretty modest and they don’t like to brag. But that doesn’t mean you can’t know yourself.

“What I say to students is, ‘You just need to be a little bit better and a little bit different.’”

Q. It’s often hard for people — especially women — to brag about themselves. How and when did you realize it’s important to represent ourselves well?

A. “The day my daughter left for college, she sat me down in the kitchen and said, ‘Mom, now that I’m going to be gone, will you ... write a book about women so that you can understand why we are the way we are and have been forever?’

“I took five years and I interviewed 100 women … and did the research. What I found out is that these were historic things … we put other people before ourselves, whether it’s family or people we work for or we meet. It’s very difficult for us to be ourselves.”

Q. What’s your advice to the next generation of female leaders?

A. “I urge them to have a deep sense of personal self-responsibility and focus, which comes from knowing who they are, what your priorities are and the courage to act on them.

“Taking really good care of yourself physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually, spiritually and financially … basically becoming competent enough so you can deal with anyone and anything that life brings you.

“Confident women are competent. They think positively. They act effectively and productively.

“Eliminate unimportant, non-essential activities. This is so important in my life. When something comes up, you say to yourself, ‘How much do I really want to do this on a scale from 1 to 10?’ Be honest with yourself. Then the second question is, ‘How important is it?’

“Spend more time with people who are good for you. Limit, or even better, eliminate the time you spend with those who are not, even if you’re related to them.

“Surround yourself with everything that is positive, has humor. Eliminate what is negative.”

Q. What do you wish La Jollans did more of?

A. “Reaching out to each other, being good neighbors, welcoming people. I think the more we reach out and appreciate other people, no matter what they do, including watching out for people crossing the streets, helping people that look like they’re having problems, complimenting people who work in stores for the way they took care of you.

“A lot of people don’t do that. And it means so much to the individual. … There’s such a generosity about the people who live in this town. That’s why I live here. But let’s go beyond that to people who are not in La Jolla, visitors.”

Q. What do you want your legacy to be?

A. “Helping boys and girls and women take better care of themselves so they can do something meaningful in this world.” ◆