Getting students to and through college.

About Us

Mission

Our Mission

Higher Edge guides low-income and first-generation students through enrollment, retention, and graduation from college by providing the support and resources needed for success.

Meet The Team

Meet The Team

Graciela Guzman : Success Program Manager

Graciela Guzman

Success Program Manager

Graciela has been a New London resident since her youth. After graduating from New London High School, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Connecticut. Her experiences as an undergraduate sparked initial interest in higher education. After working at a dual enrollment high school as an administrative assistant she decided to solidify that interest and obtain a Masters degree in Counselor Education with a specialization in Student Development in Higher Education. She joined Higher Edge to empower students to learn and embrace their academic, professional, and personal growth journeys.

Jason Pellum : College Access Program Manager

Jason Pellum

College Access Program Manager

Raised in New London since age 8, Jason graduated from New London High School/Science and Technology Magnet High School in 2012, and the University of Connecticut in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. During his sophomore, junior, and senior college years, he was a Walk-On Basketball Player and helped the Huskies win both a Men’s and Women’s National Championship. Jason became interested in education after spending 2 ½ years as a professional recruiter. He joined Higher Edge to inspire first-generation and underrepresented students to seek a higher education and plans to obtain a Masters degree in Counselor Education.

Katie Hallisey : Executive Director

Katie Hallisey

Executive Director

Katie has volunteered with Higher Edge since its founding and joined the staff in 2017, most recently as the College Access Program Manager in New London. She brings 20 years of education/guidance experience to the position. She credits her own college journey to a former colleague at New London High School who urged her to return to school after seeing the impact she was making in the classroom as a paraprofessional within a special education program. Katie is excited to serve as the next Executive Director - to expand the community reach; to broaden the impact and build upon the foundation. But mostly, she is excited to share the students' stories and accomplishments because she believes they are at the forefront of Higher Edge's success.

Katie lives in New London with her husband and three children.

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

  • Kristi Kelly (President) – Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law
  • Sara J. Baker Bailey – Southern Connecticut State University
  • John Bairos – Edward Jones Investments
  • Keith Turner – Homestead Funding Corporation
  • Tashawn Ward – Chelsea Groton Bank

Dear Higher Edge Community,

As we look toward the future and the start of the upcoming academic year; we are announcing that Higher Edge will continue working virtually. While it had been our hope to open the office to our students and conduct on campus visits; the safety of our students and staff remains at the forefront of our work. Our small community just presents too many moving parts – Students attend 7 different high schools and almost 20 different college/university campuses.

Of course; we continuously monitor guidelines set forth by the CDC, state of Connecticut and local cities/towns in which our offices are located. Reassessments will be made as necessary and any changes will be shared accordingly.

Finally, we miss you! The office has been quiet for the last 17 months. The energy from events and the buzz of students talking and laughing cannot be replaced over Zoom. However, the virtual programming our advisors created during the pandemic proved to have far reaching positive impacts.

We cannot wait until COVID is safely behind us so that we can once again fully focus on advising and get back together!

In Community,
The Higher Edge Team
-Katie, Jason & Gracie