By: Rafael Saperstein  | 

An Advisor for Life: A Tribute To Lolita Wood-Hill

Editor’s Note: Debbie Beaudreau, of blessed memory, was a member of the Pre-Health Advisement office and worked closely with Lolita Wood-Hill. She provided quotes for this article to The Commentator shortly before her passing on April 13. After careful consideration, The Commentator has selected to keep her quotes. 

When asked to comment, Wood-Hill told The Commentator that “Debbie was the most generous and gracious person you could ever hope to meet. She was our connector, always checking on everyone and making sure we stayed in touch. Students who have long since graduated from YC have expressed their sympathy and their gratitude for the impact she had on their success. She was a rare gem, and will be missed.”

To quote Dean Fred Sugarman in an email three days after her passing, “Deb was a delight, a positive person who cared deeply about work.” 

She will be missed by the entire YU community.

Over the past decade, YC students have gained admission to various U.S. medical schools at an acceptance rate more than twice the national average. Over that timeframe, each one of those pre-med students, as well as pre-dental and some pre-law students, have passed through the office of one person for guidance on their path to graduate school. Ms. Lolita Wood-Hill, the pre-professional and pre-health advisor for Yeshiva College, has led these students along every step of the way. From advising Zoom calls and scheduling emails to committee letters and MCAT studying, Wood-Hill has enabled and empowered YU students to succeed in their desired careers after college. This year, however, will be the last of her storied and illustrious career at YC, as she retires at the end of this academic year to focus on spending time with her parents as they get older. 

Wood-Hill came to YU in October of 2010, after learning about the job opening at a pre-health advising conference in Atlanta. The YU pre-health advisor at the time, Ms. Whitney Houston, was leaving, so Wood-Hill made the move uptown from her previous position at Hunter College. Since then, she has been the driving force behind hundreds of YU students aiming for graduate school, providing them with volunteer and research opportunities, course selection advice and a listening ear that can be accessed on the YU advising website. In addition to her direct interactions with students over the years, Wood-Hill has developed and maintained numerous relationships with other pre-health advisors as well as admissions administrators at various medical schools, a network through which medical school admissions officers have come to know and respect YU’s applicants. 

Many members of the advisory team, as well as Deans Fred Sugarman and Karen Bacon, expressed their appreciation for Wood-Hill’s accomplishments throughout her time at YC. Bacon emphasized that in addition to her statistical success in getting students into medical and dental schools, “each student who was her advisee was given individual attention in completing YC requirements for graduation and in seeking the best next step in their career plans. This approach to advising is best described as mentoring. For this we are truly grateful.”

Sugarman recalled how in his years-long collaboration with Wood-Hill, she helped YC students compete for spots in some of the most competitive medical schools in the U.S., often accounting for the fact that most YC students wanted to attend medical schools in big cities with large Jewish populations. In addition to her work in pre-health advising, Wood-Hill was also instrumental in creating the College Edge program at YU, in which hundreds of disadvantaged high school students are assisted by YU students in learning about the college admissions and acceptance processes. She was also involved in the At Risk program in YU, which assists students who were at risk academically and helps them get back on track with their studies. Wood-Hill’s involvement in extracurriculars related to student success, both through the College Edge program and the At Risk program, is part of what made her tenure at YU so special. As Sugarman noted, in addition to her ability to succeed in advising, “her empathy is extraordinary.”

Over the course of the past decade, Debbie Beaudreau, who worked at YU until her untimely passing on April 13, was at Wood-Hill’s side as her assistant in the advising center. Beaudreau provided the following quotes to The Commentator shortly before her passing. 

Beaudreau had been working at YU for two years before Wood-Hill’s arrival, and said that the moment that Wood-Hill arrived, “I knew we were going to hit it off.” She noted Wood-Hill’s national recognition, and remembers going to pre-health advising conferences where she would mention working at YU and always be asked about how Wood-Hill was doing. In addition to Wood-Hill’s “total competence in pre-health advising,” Beaudreau emphasized the “respect that she showed, treating everyone as an equal” on the advising team. 

Ever since coming to YU in 2010, Wood-Hill’s advising has been an integral part of the pre-health experience at YU. She attributes part of her success to the culture that YU has developed, with the “community being willing to help people when they’re not well off,” allowing students to stay confident in their success, as well as having a strong alumni network for students to consult. Additionally, Wood-Hill had very strong relationships with many medical school admissions committee members, which she combined with some of the work she did outside of YU to build strong connections. Some of that work included participating in national pre-health advisory committees and writing articles and multiple book chapters on pre-health advising. Most importantly, though, she consistently did her best to help every student and to represent YU well. Going forward, Wood-Hill will stay in the advising sphere by doing volunteer pre-health work for the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions and working with a nonprofit group that holds a summer program to provide quality advising for disadvantaged students.

After Wood-Hill’s retirement, Professor James Camara, who is currently a chemistry professor in YC, will take over as pre-health advisor. Over the course of the past year, he has been training under Wood-Hill throughout the different phases of the medical school application cycle, gaining experience to lead students in the coming years with their applications. Wood-Hill, Beadreau and Sugarman all expressed their confidence that Camara will do a great job in his new role, and that YC students are in good hands regarding pre-health advising going forward.

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Photo Caption: Lolita Wood-Hill

Photo Credit: YUNews