Attending Huntington University was a family affair for Lara (Smitley) Hillenberg.
Her mom and dad attended, and not to mention her cousin, aunt, uncle and now sister. But Hillenberg wanted something different — at least at first she did.
“As hard as I tried to get away, I couldn’t,” Hillenberg chuckled. “The one thing that always drew me back was the financial aid package, and the people were always so friendly and genuinely cared about me.”
With scholarships in hand, Hillenberg enrolled in the communication program. She graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies.
After graduation, she continued her education by obtaining a master’s degree from IPFW while teaching as an adjunct professor in the communication department at HU and IPFW. But it wasn’t until late 2010, that she found her new passion — with a little help from her liberal arts education.
Around Thanksgiving, Hillenberg took a position as the academic adviser under the dean in the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University where she helps students and perspective students with various processing concerns from withdrawals to registrations.
“We’re a catch-all department,” she said. “That’s a good way to put it.”
She found her communication studies degree gave her the theoretical knowledge of the field, and her work in the Public Relations Office at HU as a student gave her great hands-on experience, but it was her liberal arts education that pushed it over the top.
“Learning how to reason, learning how to write, those are the things that I bring into my job,” she said. “I learned how to interact with faculty, and I really value that. Learning how to interact with adults is really valuable in my current position.”
Hillenberg gives credit to HU for making her career possible. On top of the experience and knowledge she gained, she stressed that it was the individualized attention from professors that made all of the difference for her.
“If I had to do it over, I would do it again,” she said. “My money was spent well at Huntington University.”
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