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Meet Lenell Hahn

Headshot of Lenell HahnLenell Hahn
Director of Admissions
Southeast Missouri State University

What drew you to the world of college admission counseling?
While completing my MBA and serving as a graduate assistant in university relations where I wrote press releases and maintained web content, I was encouraged to apply for a brand-new position at Southeast titled admission web counselor. The position included traditional admission counseling responsibilities along with establishing a prospective student portal, automated email marketing, and enhancing web personalization. So many mentors along the way impacted my path, challenged me, and provided opportunities for me to grow professionally in the realm of college admission and enrollment management.    

What is your favorite part of the job? 
Anytime I can engage with families is my favorite part of the job! In March 2020, we needed to quickly find a tool we could easily offer for families to meet with us virtually.  Our use of Calendly with Outlook and Zoom integration has given me a new way to help families. I keep it constantly synced to my calendar with the link to schedule a meeting with me in my email signature and on our staff webpage. It has also been wonderful hosting families on campus again for tours and events. I learn just as much from families as they learn from me. Every challenge, concern, or question they share is an opportunity for me to view the college selection process through the lens of a prospective family to see how we can help break down more barriers to a college degree.  

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
NACAC has been a pillar for me throughout my career. I look forward to the bi-weekly Today in College Admission emails to keep me informed, appreciate the opportunities offered to connect with prospective college students, and value the many professional development offerings. The Antiracist Education Institute is a prime example of how this association knows the needs of its members and seeks to be a part of advancing commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Session 2 on inclusive hiring practices was offered at a time when we were about to advertise for three admission counselor positions. It was very impactful, and we immediately used the competences gained.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
My biggest fears are families and students not believing in the value of a college degree or thinking that a college education isn’t within reach due to financial concerns, feeling that they don’t belong, or lacking confidence in themselves. There are also achievement gaps that need to be closed. At Southeast, we are working to communicate how student success is impacted by a college education and expanding aid opportunities. We now have nearly 20 scholarships with GPA-only criteria to qualify.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
Spending time with my family is my No. 1 priority. We enjoy spending weekends in the summer at Kentucky Lake and love traveling to new places to experience the sights, culture, and food! Any excuse to get out of cooking dinner is always on my agenda and luckily my husband is the better cook. Our daughter loves to bake and craft, which is very therapeutic for me when I make the time to craft with her. We adopted a puppy from the Humane Society in November 2020 after hosting her in our home for a Thanksgiving holiday sleepover.     

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Moana, because she was scared but strong and gained the courage to sail across the ocean to save her village. She was able to gain friendships and make allies along the way. There really is no journey too big if you allow support from others and stay resilient.

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