Education transformed Kervin Pillot’s life by showing him how he could achieve so much more than his surroundings. Now, as Penn GSE’s Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions, Pillot wants to pass that lesson along to others.
“I love that this position allows me to work with the best and brightest who want to advance their careers all across the field of education,” Pillot said. “I am passionate about education, and I’m excited that I can work with others who are passionate about it, too.”
He was drawn to Penn GSE by the outsized impact of its students, faculty, and alumni, in both research and practice. “We have an impact on thousands of lives, and an impact on the national and global conversation about education,” Pillot said.
Pillot has experienced firsthand how education can change lives.
Born and raised in the South Bronx, Pillot grew up understanding that education was something to fight for, and a way to access opportunities beyond what was available in his neighborhood. At fourteen years old, he was accepted into A Better Chance, a talent identification program that transported him from the South Bronx to Strath Haven High School, a top performing school in the Philadelphia suburb of Wallingford, PA. He spent the next four years living in a boarding house with other students in the program. “It really changed my educational trajectory,” he said. As a Cornell University undergraduate, he majored in political science and minored in Latino studies, analyzing issues of equity, access, and opportunity.
He tried a couple career paths after college. “I worked at a law firm, but wasn’t a law guy. Then, I worked at JP Morgan, but wasn’t a finance guy, either,” he said. But he also volunteered for Cornell, speaking with prospective students. That clicked, and soon thereafter, he launched his career in admissions at New York University. He worked in admissions at NYU’s Stern School of Business for seven years, accelerating his career by earning his Master’s in higher education and student affairs, and most recently serving as Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions.
After years of working with undergraduates, Pillot is excited to shift to a graduate program. Penn GSE’s prospective students are adults who traditionally take more ownership of the decision to apply and attend a program, he said. Having already earned an undergraduate degree, and often having experience in the working world, prospective students are often thinking about how a Penn GSE degree can be a steppingstone to major life goals.
Pillot knows cost is always a major topic in graduate admissions conversations. But he wants to stress the invaluable career preparation, the impactful research opportunities students can have, and the powerful networks that come along with a Penn GSE degree.
“I want to make sure prospective students understand the potential and value that exists in a Penn GSE education,” he said. “It is certainly an investment, but it’s one that’s worth making.”