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Meet Leah Lipka

Leah Lipka headshotLeah Lipka
Admissions Counselor
University of Montana

What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
I’ve always enjoyed working with students and helping them determine and reach their goals. I previously worked as a classroom teacher and a high school swim coach and working one-on-one with students was my favorite element of each of these positions. As an admission counselor, I am able to meet with students and highlight ways that going to college can open them up to new opportunities. I love the chance to be a cheerleader for students and connect them to resources that help them succeed. Going to college is a big, exciting decision and I get to be the person who walks a student through the process of enrollment and provides guidance and support along the way. I find that very rewarding.

What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is being able to help make college accessible for students who believe it's out of reach. As an access-based institution, we are able to soften the barriers that would prevent a student from pursuing higher education. I also love to highlight all of the amazing academic enrichment programs and opportunities we offer outside of the classroom here at the University of Montana, like study abroad or our opportunities to be involved in undergraduate research. It’s always fun to watch a student’s face light up when I tell them you can take skiing for credit!

What prompted you to join NACAC and what do you hope to get out of your membership?
I’m new to the organization and I look forward to being able to meet other professionals and build meaningful connections. I’ve also been able to utilize the webinars to stay up to date with trends in admission counseling. This has been a challenging year and there is a lot of knowledge in this association to draw from. I am eager to learn everything I can from my colleagues so I can better serve our students.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
The pandemic has disrupted college admission in unprecedented ways. From limiting the ability of students to visit campuses, to the ways we connect with students, access to standardized tests, the rise of online learning, and students facing financial hardship due to the pandemic—the entire experience of applying to college has been changed. We have had to restructure what we offer students and rethink how to make this process still enjoyable and exciting for students while honoring their accomplishments and commitment to their education during a challenging time.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
When I’m not at work you can find me outside taking advantage of everything western Montana has to offer. I’m either at our local ski mountain, on the river, or exploring our nearby trails with a backpack on. If I’m not up for an adventure you can find me on the couch with my nose in a book or watching a TV show. 

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
That’s a great question! I wouldn’t want to fight in the Hunger Games but Katniss Everdeen is strong, smart, brave, and kind. I’d like to channel her courage in my everyday life!

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