Published Nov. 8, 2023
BY GRAYDEN MILLER
Working daily in a room filled to the brim with Prince memorabilia, Frida Kahlo trinkets and pictures of her daughter, Yesel Von Ruden, a school counselor who has been working at Carmel High for over 25 years, explains with a wide smile and teary eyes the gratitude she has for her job.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life, and I know I’m supposed to be here,” says Von Ruden.
Self-described as a positive person with a passion for her profession as well as her students, the counselor continues to employ a growth mindset and commend the power in social connectedness and gratitude.
“When you’re doing something that you love and enjoy, you don’t notice the time that passes because it’s what you’re supposed to be doing,” says the academic advisor.
From helping students with their class schedules to planning, distributing information and talking about their futures, Von Ruden says that the best and most memorable part about being a counselor is the relationships she builds with students.
Anya Melton, a senior at CHS, describes her experience having Von Ruden as a counselor for the past four years.
“She made me feel very heard and listened to,” says Melton, describing her counselor as a very positive and involved person, seeing her at multiple Carmel High-related events. “I felt very comfortable sharing my goals and ideas for what I want to do with the rest of my high school and college career.”
The Cal Poly graduate decided to pursue her career because of her counselor in high school, but before knowing she’d become a counselor, she thought she’d work in the fashion industry.
“It just really stuck with me,” says Von Ruden, adding that she wanted to be there for others like her counselor was there for her in high school. “When I went to college, I already knew that I loved connecting with people, supporting and being there for students. That really inspired me to pursue my degree in psychology.”
After freshly earning her concentration in adolescent development, Von Ruden went from Gilroy to a couple of high schools in San Jose, then to Elk Grove and finally Carmel, where she continues to work today while pursuing event planning on the side.
Von Ruden and her daughter volunteer with the National Charity League, where they both work with the elderly, making snacks and cards, as well as participating in beach cleanups among other activities.
At the high school, the long-time district employee can be seen at Senior Sunrise, explaining that being involved with events outside of schools helps to build stronger relationships with students. On top of volunteer work and helping out at the high schools, the mother of two is also a 10th grade class adviser.
“Von Ruden is always super positive and supportive,” says senior Hana Knoblich.
To maintain a positive mindset while keeping a busy schedule, the Carmel Unified worker practices gratitude, valuing integrity, patience, responsibility and having space for grace, explaining that compassion is important as everyone has their own story. Her philosophy is to give everything she has into what she’s doing and have fun while she’s doing it.
“Take one day at a time,” says Von Ruden, adding that she enjoyed high school because she was heavily involved in campus culture. “You’re gonna get out of high school what you put into it and it’s an experience that is going to have its highs and lows. There is always support. Have a balanced experience.”
Von Ruden says that if students participate in campus life, they can feel better about being at school and can feel more important. And with the ultimate goal of giving back to the community and learning everything she can, the explorer plans on traveling the world, but will always have Carmel High as her home base.