Meet Charlie Hungerford

Charlie Hungerford
Mercy College of Nursing & Health Sciences, Southwest Baptist University (MO)
Twitter: @charliehunger4d

How did you become the director of admissions at Mercy College of Nursing & Health Sciences? What got you interested in this field? 

I began my higher education career as the associate director of university communications at a small private college. One of my tasks there was to work with the Admission Office updating their academic program information sheets. Over a three-year period, I worked with the admission team on a wide variety of publications to use in recruiting students and became fascinated with the work and the admission process. At the time, my oldest daughter was in the middle of the college search process and I found it challenging as a parent to compare the colleges she considered. I wanted to bring some clarity to the process for other parents and students. Along the way, I fell in love with the work and the people in it. Four years ago, after a decade of recruiting students in St. Louis and Chicago, I moved to the Mercy College of Nursing & Health Sciences to become their first director of admissions.

You currently serve as the chair of NACAC’s Communications Committee and have been instrumental in creating NACAC’s “Voice.” What does this mean to you and why is it important?

With some 15,000 members, it’s hard to have one voice that speaks for all of us equally, but I think it is vital that we present a unified front in the important issues we face and in keeping the needs of the student at the front of everything we do. As the chair of the NACAC Communications Committee, it’s always my goal to make sure that we stay student-focused, and that when possible, our individual voices can be heard.

How does NACAC play a role in your career?

It keeps me connected. It’s easy for me to get wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks that tend to pile up on my desk. Being involved with NACAC helps me see the much bigger picture that is college admission and remember that there are other folks out there with the same challenges and pressures. Beyond that, I think the relationships I’ve built through both NACAC and my affiliate memberships have been excellent in providing professional development.

Do you have any advice for professionals who are new to the field?

I’ve always been on the college side of admissions so my advice is one-sided, but I think it would work regardless. Find an experienced counselor or admission rep to mentor you. It can be a staff member at your college/school, someone in your affiliate, or the rep you stand next to every night for a week, but learn from their experience. Where is a good place to stay? Where should you eat? Who do you call/email to schedule a visit? Is that one fair you just got invited to worth attending?

I never met another counselor/rep who wasn’t willing to share from his or her experience. It definitely helped those first couple of years until I was comfortable in my territory.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing counselors today?

There are so many ways to reach students now. Keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of how students communicate and finding what will actually get a response is a challenge. This has changed so much in the 16 years I’ve been working in higher education.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?

Run. A lot. I’m a fairly competitive long-distance runner and really enjoy the challenge of a new race or competition. If I’m not running or working, you’re likely to find me sitting around our kitchen table enjoying a meal with family and friends.

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?

Wow. This is tough. I love to read and come across interesting characters in so many books. I’m going to go with the first thought I had when I read this question: Tobias Eaton, also known as Four, from the Divergent series. I loved his daring and adventurous spirit.

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