Scott Hoffman says having some of his mentors from his undergrad days turn into colleagues since he joined UNLV's office of student conduct is a great feeling.
As an alum, ('12 BA Political Science) I want to be able to give back to the university that provided me with so many different opportunities. By leading the newly-named Rebels Support Team (formerly known as Student of Concern), I’m in a position where I can help students who demonstrate concerning behavior get to place where they can succeed in a healthy and positive way.
What about UNLV strikes you as different from other places you have worked or where you went to school?
Walking around campus, you can find students from any and every walk of life — from nearly every state and from so many different countries. Working to meet the needs and expectations of every student population is never easy work, but it’s so rewarding and exciting to try.
Where did you grow up and what was that like?
I grew up in Edison, New Jersey, a suburb of New York City. My childhood was spent doing homework, playing video games, or hanging out at the mall (which every New Jersey teenager is required to do).
What inspired you to get into your field?
As a student at UNLV, I chose to live on campus and get involved. Involvement completely changed my life. I built leadership skills, engaged with members of the UNLV community, and developed a passion for helping students make the most of their time in college. Some of my mentors from when I was a student are now my colleagues as a professional. They’re still inspiring me to do the best that I can in work that I love. It’s a great feeling.
How does being a UNLV alum help you in doing your job?
I know what it’s like to visit our academic advisors, to change majors, to eat at the Dining Commons, to wait in line for a T-shirt at Premier, and to be a college student in Las Vegas and all that the city offers. I also know the struggles of paying student loans, balancing work with school, and living with roommates. Everything that we as higher education professionals do is in support of the student experience, so my own experience comes in handy when making decisions and lending perspective.
What is the biggest challenge in your field?
A major part of my work is helping connect students to resources on campus that may be of value to them when they’re experiencing difficulty in their personal lives. I’ve found that the most challenging part of that is overcoming the negative stigma that students often associate with counseling. Students sometimes indicate to me that they don’t want to go to counseling because they’re embarrassed, or see it as a sign of weakness. I try to help students see that seeking counseling is actually a sign of strength. Being able to admit when you need to talk to someone, or to let out some deep feelings, is a great thing, and goes a long way towards healing.
What can colleagues on campus do to make your job easier?
Other than buying me coffee (Dunkin’ Donuts, preferably), my job would be made easier if my colleagues maintain awareness of all of the resources on campus that help support our students’ mental health. By referring students going through tough times to places like CAPS and The PRACTICE, and keeping me in the loop, we’re creating a network of support for the wellbeing of our students. The more awareness of campus resources there is, the easier it becomes to identify where our students could be best assisted.
Finish this sentence, “if I couldn't work in my current field, I would like to...”
I would want to be a history teacher. My middle and high school teachers were some of the most impactful and influential people in my life, and I’ve always been a history and politics nerd. I think it would be great to combine my love of the subject area with my desire to positively impact students.
What has been your proudest moment?
My proudest moment has been completing my graduate work. I attended Northeastern University in Boston, where I received a master’s degree in college student development and counseling (in 2014). I worked harder than I ever thought I would over the course of those two years, and felt that I truly earned my degree. Coming back to the West Coast after graduating, with a degree and a clear career path, was incredibly rewarding.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
People are always surprised to hear that I have shaken hands with three U.S. Presidents. I always encourage anybody who’s curious about which presidents I met or what the circumstances were, to reach out to me to learn more. There are some pretty cool stories behind each handshake.
Tell us about a time in your life when you have been daring?
It may not be daring in the traditional sense, but I’ve spent three New Year’s Eves in the last six years at Disneyland. If you’ve ever experienced the crowds, the lines, and the prices of a Disney New Year, you might think that’s pretty daring.
Pastime or hobbies?
I spend a lot of time hopelessly rooting for my beloved New York Mets, and following baseball in general. A dream of mine would be to take a few months and visit all 30 major league stadiums in one season. I’ve been to 11 so far. Other than baseball, I’m a huge video game fan, though haven’t had as much time to play lately as I used to. I spent way too much time playing Halo 3 while in college, but I regret none of it.
Tell us about an object in your office that has significance for you and why it is significant.
One of my favorite office decorations is the nametag that I wore when I went to see a taping of The Price is Right. I actually went there as part of a road trip that the UNLV Residence Hall Association sponsored when I was living on campus. Though I didn’t get called on stage, it was a really cool day-long event that I would love to experience again. And I got to keep my nametag and meet Drew Carey. It’s a great memory from my time as a student.