Meet Tim Cushing

Tim Cushing
Senior Assistant Director of Admission at Wheaton College (MA)

How has your career path led you to work as the senior assistant director of admission at Wheaton College?

As a first-generation college student, my school counselor played a huge role in my college search and did an amazing job helping me navigate this crazy world. From this experience, I always knew I wanted to work with the admission process.

Upon graduation in 2010, I was fortunate enough to start my career as an admission counselor at my alma mater, Stonehill College (MA). My work there focused on revamping our student host program among other duties. After working at Stonehill for two years, I was given the opportunity to work at Babson College (MA) as an assistant director, undergraduate admission. At Babson, I worked with the tour guide program as well as supervising our admission fellows. In addition, I coordinated our secondary school counselor events and outreach as well as working as part of our athletic liaison team.

In the summer of 2014, I took the position of senior assistant director of admission at Wheaton College, coordinating our student worker team, assisting with international recruitment, and working with athletics.

What is the value of NACAC not in only in your career, but in all aspects of your life?

In my professional life, NACAC has allowed me to grow in ways I did not think were possible. In the summer of 2015, I was given the opportunity to attend the NACAC Emerging Admission Professional Summer Institute. During the seminar, we met with members of organizations focused on diversity, inclusion, financial aid, and access. These meetings, along with the discussion we had as a group about these topics, completely changed the way I view the work we do every day. It made me think more about the big picture and fired me up to make a difference. It truly made us see how we can make changes in our individual offices, in our affiliates, and on the national level, that ensure that this process is the best it possibly can be for the students.

From this experience, I worked with other attendees to create the NACAC Emerging Admission Professional Special Interest Group (SIG). The group’s mission is to educate and build community within the future leaders of NACAC and its affiliates. This has opened doors for many of our future leaders to educate themselves and discuss topics that are vital to working towards a better future (you should join or tell someone to join!) Personally, NACAC has provided me with professional development opportunities that have made me a better worker, leader, and person. Not to mention all the amazing connections and friends I have been able to make.

Why is the Emerging Admission Professionals initiative important?

The Emerging Admission Professionals initiative is so important because it provides a grounds on which individuals, who range from those who are brand new to the field up to middle managers, come together and discuss issues, share information, and educate themselves on different aspects of this field. From the Summer Institute I attended to sessions like the one I am presenting on at the Boston National College Fair, the goal of this initiative is to shape and assist in the development of Emerging Admission Professionals. The NACAC team that works in this specific area provides so many amazing opportunities. I truly hope more of us will take advantage of.

You’re an active member in your affiliate. How have those experiences influenced your career?

I honestly would not be where I am today without the work I have done in my affiliate. Due to the relationships I have built, the work I have done, and the things I have accomplished, I have been able to advance my career in this field.

I met my current Vice President of Enrollment Grant Gosselin at my affiliate’s Summer Institute in the summer of 2010. The minute he started speaking to us, I knew one day I needed to work for him. I have been lucky enough to do so for the past four years. The best part of the work I have done with my affiliate is that it has provided me with professional opportunities that are not typically available to someone with my experience but are vital to reaching my goal of being a director one day.

Through my work with the Professional Development, Annual Meeting and Conference, and Finance subcommittees, along with being an alternate Assembly delegate last year, I gained skills such as controlling a budget, managing a staff, making higher level decisions, etc. These experiences have allowed me to speed up the learning process and better prepare myself for the next step, in the present and in the future.  
On top of all the professional gains I have received, the most rewarding part are the people. I have met some of my best friends, met future and current coworkers, and made memories I will never forget.

What advice do you have for professionals who are new to the field and interested in getting involved?

First, meet as many people as possible. The way I started getting involved was by utilizing networks and meeting people who put me in the right positions to succeed. One of my mentors as a child taught me that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. You do need to know, so do not get me wrong on this, but knowing people and establishing my network helped get me to where I have been and where I am going.

Also, say “yes.” Even if it is something that is not the most exciting opportunity for you or might not be exactly what you want, it may lead you to where you want to go. You also could learn more from the experience than you ever thought you would.

Finally, push yourself. Go outside of your comfort zone. It will make you better and you will learn so much about who you are and what you want.  

What are you passionate about outside of your career?

Outside of my career, my biggest passion is my family. I am the youngest of my siblings and my whole family lives on one road in New Hampshire. I have three nieces and a nephew who are a huge part of my life and I love spending time with them. My family provides me with the drive and support that pushes me every day.

I also love music. You will not find many times where I am not either playing or listening to music. I have been playing drums since I was a child, guitar since freshman year of college, and have picked up a few other instruments along the way. I enjoy working out and playing sports, particularly tennis, ultimate frisbee, and basketball as well as spending time with my friends.

List five adjectives that best describe you:

• Passionate
• Focused
• Positive
• Tenacious
• Big-hearted

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I feel so lucky to have a job where I have the opportunity to make dreams come true. I know that sounds cliché, but there are many days where we immediately change the trajectory of a student’s life. Even on the tough days, please do not forget why we do what we do. There is a motivational speaker named Eric Thomas who asks the question “What’s your why?” A why is the reason you do what you do. Mine is my family, especially my nieces and nephew, and all of my mentors who have given me so much. I want to make them proud, each and every day. What’s your why?

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