Q & A: Interview with James McHugh, San Marcos Student Finance Advisor
James McHugh is a Student Finance Advisor at UEI San Marcos campus for a little over four months. He taught High School for over six, and then moved into the Higher Education field where he stayed for almost nine years. McHugh entered the educational field initially as a coach by starting a CIF sports program at Foothills Christian High School in El Cajon. He was Head Varsity Baseball Coach and taught various subjects from P.E. and Computer 1 to Systematic Theology.
He did not have his degree at the time but went to work with Ashford University hoping to pursue a degree since the “traditional college experience” didn’t really fit into his schedule. A few years later, he did complete his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration as well as his Master’s in Education.
1. What is your role here at the San Marcos Campus?
Helping students understand their financial options and how different types of funding can play a role for them.
2. What advice do you have for incoming students?
Utilize all aspects of services and talk to the staff and faculty members while you are here. There are people in several positions that want to see you succeed, each of them can help you reach success.
3. If you were to take a program here, what would that be and why?
Probably Criminal Justice because nearly every student I work with is in this program seems really excited to get started.
4. In your opinion, what is the best thing about your job?
The people that I work with. My team is always willing to help and they have an exceptional “team first” attitude that makes me want to succeed for and with them.
5. What do you think you will remember most about your time here?
The different background our students come from. We meet with students from so many walks of life, and it is exciting to see where they will go from here.
6. Is there a particular co-worker you admire here? Why?
Vanessa and Tara are my two direct team members and they have treated me like part of the team since day one. I know there were certainly times that it would have probably been easier not to take the time to help but they have both been willing to help me learn every step of the way.
7. What are some of the best places around the campus for breakfast/lunch/dinner?
8. What is the best success story you have witnessed while at UEI?
I have worked with students who have been dealt with every struggle imaginable, from financial stress to homelessness to family struggles and though I have not seen a group through to graduation just yet, I am eager to see the success and see them conquer life’s’ challenges.
9. What has surprised you the most since starting the UEI?
The face to face interaction with students. I came from the online University environment with a much larger student population and it was very easy to lose track of students over time. Stopping in the hallways to check in with a student on how their children are doing, whether a parent is getting better after an illness or any other number of things going on in their lives creates a great deal of meaning in my day.
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