Scott Hinkle's UNLV roots began in 2003 as an undergraduate student majoring in English followed by an MFA in creative writing. Before becoming part of the Academic Success Center (ASC) as an academic advisor, Hinkle was a freelance writer and taught English for two years in a small town near Mt. Fuji in Japan. When he returned to UNLV, he served as a composition instructor as well as a writing consultant.
When asked, Hinkle will tell you that his favorite part about being an academic advisor is helping students discover the path that best suits them and seeing their confidence grow as they develop both academically and personally.
What led you to work at UNLV as an academic advisor?
I realized that out of all my previous jobs, I loved it most when I was able to work with people one-on-one. Given my previous experience working individually with students as a writing tutor and my background as an instructor in higher ed, it seemed like the perfect fit.
You work with a lot of Exploring major students. How do you help them navigate their journey at UNLV?
With exploring majors, ASC advisors discuss how personal interests and aptitudes might relate to a major or career. [The Exploring major at UNLV allows freshmen and sophomores to concentrate on general education requirements, while working with one of their advisors to research the majors they're interested in and available career options.] Still, we also help students with a lot of practical stuff. We’re often their first point of contact at UNLV; we schedule their first classes, give an advising presentation during orientation, and continue to help them on their journey toward declaring a major.
What is something we may be surprised to learn about you?
I was focused on becoming a writer for the better part of the last decade, which meant taking many part-time jobs to have the time to write. I eventually realized that I could never be the type of writer who could steadily produce publishable work year after year, and then when I got married, I had to balance my priorities. However, despite realizing my limitations and fully embracing the life changes that my marriage and new career have brought, I still try to scrape a few hours together to write each week. Whether or not I finish my book and get it published remains to be seen, but I can’t seem to quit trying.
What trait do you most like about yourself? What would you change?
I like that I’m able to stay pretty even keel. I don’t easily get angered or excited when interacting with people, which has helped me plenty of times in stressful situations, both at work and in life. However, it also means that I am often not as assertive as I need to be, which often annoys my wife. She jokes that I married her because I need someone to complain for me when my order is wrong.
What is your motto in life?
Instead of mottos, I have a bunch of movie quotes I like to cycle through. I won’t get into all of them because that would take too long, as my repertoire ranges from golden-era cowboy flicks and musicals to obscure sci-fi and poorly translated kung fu movies. However, I will say that a good majority of my most-used quotes tend to come from the film The Big Lebowski.
Tell me about an a-ha moment in your career.
My ah-ha moment came when I realized I preferred working one-on-one with students a little more than teaching large groups. This happened when I was teaching in Japan, and the pandemic hit. I was in a rural area, and virtual options were extremely limited, so schools reopened a lot earlier than they did in the U.S. However, as a precaution, my school shifted my role from teaching in large classrooms to smaller groups and individual tutoring. I found that I liked getting to know my students a bit more on a personal level, that they tended to be more open and expressive when given individual attention, and that this dynamic led to more fruitful discussions. After that, I knew when I returned to the U.S. that, I would transition from traditional classroom teaching to more one-on-one work. That mindset led me to my role in advising.
Is being an advisor what you thought you would do when you grew up?
When I was really young, I wanted to be either a race car driver or a dinosaur discoverer (never mind that they’re all extinct). In junior high school, I wanted to be an NBA player. After high school and until very recently, I continued the trend of wanting rare jobs requiring skills that I might not have in that I wanted to be a famous novelist. But I’m happy to have discovered advising more recently and can confidently say that it’s a job that matches my skill set.
Tell us about an object in your office and what it represents to you.
On my desk, I have a figurine of Porco Rosso, the main character from a Studio Ghibli animated film of the same name. He’s a fighter pilot who also happens to be a pig, so his character is the embodiment of the impossible in that it plays off of the phrase “when pigs fly” — that oft-uttered phrase when something is deemed unachievable or at least highly unlikely. I have him as a reminder that if one believes and works hard enough, even the insurmountable can perhaps be overcome.
Top three holidays (we’ll count your birthday as a holiday for the purpose of this question)? How different is this list from when you were 9 years old?
This one is easy for me: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. They’re my top three because they occur during fall and winter, which are my favorite seasons in Vegas, and each of these holidays involves the three F's: food, family, and friends.
This differs from my list at nine years old in that I liked more adventure back then, preferring Halloween and Easter because of the hunt for candy or maybe Independence Day because of the fireworks. But these days I like less spectacle and more edible.