Although newly appointed as the director of academic advising for the college, Megan Hullinger has been on campus for some time. She says she loves its diversity and looks forward to having her staff partner with College of Sciences students in finding ways for the students to reach their goals.
I grew up in Petersburg, Illinois, outside of Springfield. There were more cows than people in my hometown, so that can be an odd experience. I received my bachelor’s degree in communication and master’s degree in technology at Eastern Illinois University (EIU) in Charleston, which is slightly larger than my hometown. My move to Las Vegas was a bit of a culture shock.
I chose UNLV for its young age and the diverse population in Las Vegas. Being a part of an organization that prides itself in being diverse has great appeal to me, as well as being a part of helping UNLV grow into its potential. I stay at UNLV because I have connected to this community, these students, and my colleagues.
What about UNLV strikes you as different from other places you have worked?
The size and diversity are the largest differences. I am lucky, however, to work for an institution that works to put students and their needs first.
Before the College of Sciences
I came to UNLV right out of graduate school, where I worked as an orientation coordinator at EIU. I began my UNLV career as the coordinator of transition and parent programs in the office of orientation. From there, I worked with GEAR Up and international students in the office of the registrar, and served as the assistant director of advising in the Honors College before making the College of Sciences my home.
What inspired you to get into your field?
I was convinced that I was going to be a corporate trainer. I got a job as a student worker in the orientation office at EIU, which turned into a graduate assistantship. The rest is history.
What do you find most interesting about your field?
I have great interest in education policy and how it impacts students and their families. I continue to do research on policy, graduation rates, and STEM success in addition to my duties as director. I believe that maintaining your love and passion for your field is paramount in living a happy professional life.
What is the biggest challenge in your field?
In advising, it can be the misconception that advisors are there only to tell you what classes you need to take. While that is a function of our profession, that view is very limiting. We have the ability to help guide you to a career you are seeking, serve as an accountability partner for your goals, and follow up with you when you succeed and/or struggle. Having a campus point-person is essential, particularly if you are not sure where to direct a question. Academic advisors have the ability to be so much more than giving a prescribed course schedule. Our hope is that we can be your partner in proactive planning for your future.
Tell us about a time in your life when you have been daring.
I have an intense fear of heights. Ladders freak me out, and if I am on a tall building, I stand against the wall. For a retreat, I took my staff to an obstacle course, which had a zip line. It took me forever (think 30 minutes) to climb to the top, but I successfully completed that part of the course. I am sure it was annoying to some to wait for me to climb, but completing this obstacle became a mantra for me; I will not allow a perceived fear, weakness, or barrier to stop me from achieving my goals.
Tell us about an object in your office that has a significance for you and why.
It’s a bumblebee paperweight that was given to me in my second year of college, and it has come with me through each stage of my career. To me, it represents teamwork, dedication, and a commitment to the community. He’s missing an antenna, since one of my daughters pulled one out, but I just think that gives him character.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
When writing or working, I must have some noise in the background. I have a very eclectic taste in music (think Mozart to 90’s grunge), so my playlists are varied. I also have Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds playing in the background often. It’s my favorite “I have to concentrate” background noise.
Outside of work
I really like to do research on how I can improve, both personally and professionally. I am a dedicated NASCAR fan (which is often surprising to some!), as I find the engineering and technological aspects of the sport fascinating. I am also a vocalist, and have performed with the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Illinois Symphony Orchestra. With familial, work, and school responsibilities, I have been unable to continue performing, though I hope to start again soon.