With a freshly minted MFA from UNLV’s creative writing program in hand, Alice Hastings (pronouns: they/them) brings an inimitable flair to the Honors College advising team. In their new role, Hastings will lead the college’s peer-mentor program, coordinate extracurricular activities, and provide one-on-one advising support for students.
Hastings’ experiences at UNLV shed light on the heart and soul of our university community — something worth remembering during these uncertain times. Like Hastings and the concrete bench, you might even find yourself feeling nostalgic about the seemingly ordinary places on campus we typically gather.
Silver lining during coronavirus pandemic
The silver lining for me has definitely been spending more time with my partner and my cats, even though my cats don't quite understand the concept of me working. I’ve also restarted working on several years-old art projects.
Mishaps with remote work
I made two recent trips to campus: The first was to pick up my office computer to set up a workstation at home (and yes, I completed the appropriate paperwork). But my computer wouldn't turn on. After “troubleshooting” for more time than I'd like to admit, I realized that I left the power cord in my office. Cue my second trip to campus.
What led you to UNLV?
Having been born and raised in Washington state, I was looking for something different after finishing my undergraduate work at Gonzaga. UNLV and Las Vegas offered so much that I was looking for — greater diversity, the desert climate, and a deep sense of community within the MFA program.
The program delivered all of that and more. I learned so much through navigating courses, working through projects, and serving as a graduate teaching assistant. I gained greater confidence in my academic ability and in my creative pursuits while also discovering that I loved teaching.
Why academic advising?
Mostly I just love to talk to students one-on-one and really get to know them. Our students are in a state of exploration in their lives, and I love to learn what they’re working on, what they’re passionate about, what they want to do. The planning and academic direction that advisors provide would have helped me so much in my undergraduate career. Having been part of the honors program at Gonzaga, I feel privileged in those moments when students ask me for guidance and I can act as a confidant or even mentor.
Best day on campus
My best, most joyful day on campus was the day I defended my thesis. I was lucky enough to have my most-important people with me, and I just felt so relieved and proud to have done it. That day I felt so grateful to my faculty advisor, Dr. Maile Chapman, who encouraged me to dig deep into my own experience to inform the project. The end result was a hybrid collection book of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction that explores the different “bodies” that create and shape human beings.
Best class you ever took
“Two Spirit Literature” with Dr. P. Jane Hafen, emerita professor at UNLV. Changed my life!
Funniest moment on campus
Once, while walking through the free speech zone, I got hit in the face by an (almost) empty pizza box that had blown off a booth and was flying in the wind. I had to go teach immediately after the incident and laughed while explaining to my students why I had pizza sauce all over me.
Advice to younger self
Have more fun and worry less. Just go ahead and buy those silver metallic platform sneakers.
Favorite spot on campus
I love the gardens around campus. I’ll often find myself listening to music while I walk through the Xeric Gardens near the physics building. But the place on campus I feel most nostalgic is, as funny as it sounds, a concrete bench outside the Writing Center. I worked at the Writing Center while in graduate school, and during breaks, I would sit on that bench getting to know fellow graduate students in English who would become my closest friends. It is also the place where I met the person who would become my partner.
Most meaningful office item
I have this little tree I got when I first started in the Honors College. I love this tree. It’s a ponytail palm. It is very flamboyant for a tree. To me, it represents the companionship people can have with living things of all types. It also speaks to my love of a little flair.
I name all my plants (the aforementioned tree in my office is “Pony-ta” like the Pokémon character), I drink more coffee than anybody in my office, and I paint a pretty good goatee.
Watching documentaries about space, sad pop, and 80s power ballads. Oh, and Grey’s Anatomy.
If I had to plan my last meal
My last meal would be a Raising Cane’s chicken sandwich, taken home and eaten with the friends I love most while watching a great show or meaningful queer movie. I often did this during graduate school. I’d say this points to my somewhat overbearing nostalgia, my love for my chosen family, the importance of ritual in my life, and my continued failure at becoming a vegetarian.
Three books everyone should read
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado