2021 CIS Higher Education Awards!
2021 CIS Higher Education Awards!

It’s that time of year when we have the great pleasure of celebrating the outstanding work across our community of universities and schools each year via the CIS Higher Education Awards. We present them during our CIS Global Forum on International Admission & Guidance. It’s an honour to recognize and thank the following individuals for their exemplary service in the international admission and guidance community.


Jacqui Brelsford headshot


2021 Future Leader Award

Congratulations to Jacqui Brelsford, University Counsellor, British International School, Phuket


This year’s recipient, Jacqui Brelsford, is described as “the kind of professional who makes things happen.” One colleague noted, “If she sees a need, she will step up and take on the added responsibility it requires.” Another colleague said, “she is a fearless networker, quick with technology, and an expeditious communicator. Even the smallest idea is actioned within a few hours of a weekly meeting. Jacqui has a thirst for evolving her practice. She also has an excellent critical eye for ideas that will improve our work.”

Jacqui has made a tremendous impact at the British International School, Phuket. One colleague said, “she is easily the most social and accessible individual on campus. When faculty would like to expand the influence of their programs, they come to her office. The Head of Wellbeing and the Head of the Student House teams, the Eco-Club and the Diversity Club heads are frequent visitors. She jumps at every opportunity to grow her skills and build equity for the community.”

Jacqui is described as “a fierce student advocate” and as someone who cares deeply about the well-being of those around her. She is actively involved in the delivery of well-being sessions for students and has worked to build programming to help students explore and increase their self-awareness. She is also in charge of new staff gatherings, helping to welcome people to her school community.

Jacqui is also described as someone who is passionate about human rights. One nomination noted that “long before DEIJ work became ubiquitous in international schools, Jacqui was already leading the charge. From her unwavering support of the LGBTQ+ student community to her support of local Thai staff at her school, to her honest conversations with school leadership about the lack of diversity within leadership and further, her advocacy for female staff members to voice their experiences, concerns and truth, Jacqui is fearless.” Outside of her school community Jacqui also serves on the International Association for College Admission Counselling’s Inclusion, Access and Success Committee and is a regional network lead for WomenEd Thailand, a grassroots organization connecting aspiring and existing women leaders in education.

According to one nomination, “Jacqui's greatest strength is her unvarnished humanity. Students and colleagues instantly feel safe and seen because of her authentic presence and tireless work on their behalf.” One former student noted that “in my last two years of school, Ms Brelsford not only became my university counsellor but a safe haven through the stresses and worries of the International Baccalaureate. She valued my opinions as a student on her plans for the school. The personal relationship she maintained with her students made everyone feel like they mattered and they were valued.”

In the words of her nominators, “while I am nominating Jacqui for a ‘future’ leader award, I truly believe she already embodies many qualities of a seasoned leader. Her contributions are already significant.” “She is a leader who recognizes the challenges and issues which face us in the future and who wants to address them now.”

It is with great pleasure that we present the 2021 CIS Future Leader Award to Jacqui Brelsford of the British International School, Phuket.


Myriam Polo de Molina headshot


2021 Peggy Templeton Strong Award

Congratulations to Myriam Polo de Molina, College Placement Counselor, Colegio Colombo Británico


Over the course of the last 25 years, this year’s recipient, Myriam Polo de Molina, has built the university counselling programme at her school from the ground up. She also became a staunch advocate for international education at her school and, more broadly, within Colombia. A colleague notes that “throughout her career, she has promoted diverse initiatives with the best interest of students at heart.” In 1995, while serving as Head Librarian at Colegio Colombo Británico, Myriam filled a need at her school to help students research international university options. That initiative blossomed. Myriam grew professionally into the role of university counsellor and developed a comprehensive college counselling programme for secondary school students at her school. As part of that programme, she has organized internships for her students with companies and universities to help them further explore their career options.

Myriam has been active in promoting international opportunities for her students to help gain global and cultural understanding. She has worked with many boarding schools in the UK to establish standing agreements that allow students at her school to spend a fall term abroad. She also led the process for her school to join Round Square this academic year, allowing students at her school to have even more international experiences.

Within her school, Myriam promoted the importance of seeking international accreditation by CIS and has also stepped up to serve as an accreditation evaluator for other CIS schools in Colombia. She is part of the IB Educators Network, where she has helped to further the professional development of colleagues in other parts of the world by serving as a workshop leader, sharing her expertise in librarianship, IB DP Extended Essay, and counselling.

According to a colleague, “Myriam has established strong networking relationships and agreements with national and international universities. She has worked collaboratively with counsellors from other schools in our city and Colombia to organize university fairs that benefit not only our students but those of local schools, thereby inspiring through example to other local college counsellors.”

For her service to her students and for her support of international education initiatives within her school community and more broadly within Colombia, it is our honour to present the 2021 CIS Peggy Templeton Strong Award to Myriam Polo de Molina from Colegio Colombo Británico.


Petra Orent headshot


2021 CIS T. Michael Maybury Award

Congratulations to Petra Orent, Senior Associate Director of Admissions, Franklin University Switzerland


The presentation of the CIS T. Michael Maybury Award is a tradition and an opportunity for us to honour a member of the CIS higher education community who merits special recognition for a high level of service and leadership. 

This year’s recipient, Petra Orent, goes above and beyond in her role in the admissions office at Franklin University Switzerland to advise and counsel students on their pathways to higher education. According to one colleague, “her goal is always to help the student understand their options and how to determine what could be the best fit for their educational goals.” Another colleague added, “for Petra, the priority has always been the student and making sure that the needs of every student was met at the university most fitting for them. She has portrayed this by being the first to recommend another university to a student at recruitment fairs if she believed her university wasn’t the best fit.” This level of care is noted by secondary school counsellors as well. One school counsellor said, “Petra treats each applicant as an individual and takes extra time to understand them, but more importantly be available to them and their families throughout the entire admissions process. Her professional integrity and genuine care for students is part of every interaction she has.”

Petra is seen as a leader amongst her peers for her role in helping to build and now lead the American Universities Abroad consortium. One colleague noted of her involvement with American Universities Abroad, “Petra’s dedication is the glue that keeps the diverse members together and moving forward in the right direction. Never one to criticize, Petra is always professional and culturally sensitive to everyone’s situation. She is willing to lend a hand and support the over-arching endeavour of promoting life-long learners to broaden their cultural and educational horizons through international education.”

Those who know Petra call her a valued and trusted colleague. She helps to mentor those new to the profession as well. According to a new admissions counsellor, “I have relied on Petra’s expertise, wisdom, and experience as I get comfortable in this new role. She inspires me to do my job well and enjoy it!” A university counsellor who works closely with Petra said, “she is not afraid to speak up and address difficult issues – always doing so politely and intelligently as to not ruffle feathers, but rather provoke deeper thought and bring others into these important yet sometimes challenging conversations.” Another colleague noted, “Petra is a leader whose example I hope to emulate. She is a calming force and makes hard things look easy.”

For her deep care for the students with which she works and her leadership amongst her peers, it is with great respect that we present the 2021 CIS T. Michael Maybury Award to Petra Orent of Franklin University Switzerland.


About the awards:

CIS Future Leaders Award—Created to honour an up-and-coming international admissions officer or school counsellor who embodies the CIS mission, vision, and values. The award recipient demonstrates strong leadership potential among their peers and an unequivocal commitment to service within the international admissions and guidance communities. The recipient truly represents the future of international education which CIS strives to shape.

CIS Peggy Templeton Strong Award—Peggy Templeton Strong enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the field of international school guidance. She devoted herself to serving students and mentored countless guidance counsellors and international admissions representatives. Peggy’s vision, commitment, and exemplary standards serve as an inspiration to us all. With this award, we honour a member of the CIS guidance community whose work continues Peggy Templeton Strong’s legacy.

CIS T. Michael Maybury Award—Mike Maybury, former Executive Director of CIS, devoted a lifetime of service to the promotion of international education and global understanding. During his years at the helm of CIS, Mike served us as a dedicated leader whose tireless work on behalf of higher education was instrumental in fostering the educational programmes we now carry forward. With this award, we honour a member of the CIS higher education community whose work continues Mike’s legacy and who has also made significant contributions to international education.


Our gratitude and congratulations to Jacqui, Myriam and Petra!

2021 CIS Higher Education Awards!