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Finding the Balance

Single mother earns master's while finding time for work, son

Jim Knight

R. Steve Dick/University Relations

Megan Hill, assistant director of office operations for Admissions and Scholarships, leaves her office with son, Gannon, and textbooks in hand. Hill earned her master's through the tuition assistance program while working full time and raising her son.

Since the dawn of academia, college students have put off studying for the most trivial of reasons. But Megan Hill couldn't procrastinate, even though she had a virtually irresistible distraction.

"There were times when my son would want to play a game, and I'd have to say, ‘sorry sweetie, maybe tomorrow, mommy has to write a paper,' " Hill said.

Such is the life of a single mother who is employed full time and working toward a master's degree. When she walks down the hill at commencement this month, Hill, assistant director of office operations in the Office of Admissions and Scholarships, can finally put study time behind her and focus on playtime.

Hill earned her master's in higher education administration through KU's Tuition Assistance Program. She took classes for 11 consecutive semesters, including summers, to finish the degree. The tuition assistance program pays for one class per semester for KU employees.

After earning her bachelor's in journalism from KU, Hill worked off campus for a few months before seeing an ad for an admissions counselor at her alma mater. She worked in that role before becoming a student recruiter. She then took her current position.

"It was a blast," Hill said of her years in the job recruiting and working directly with students. "I didn't know before that there was this whole world of student-affairs work."

The experience made her realize she wanted to work with students throughout her career, which provided the impetus for seeking a master's degree. However, there was the financial hurdle of raising her son, Gannon, and paying tuition. Co-workers urged her to try the Tuition Assistance Program.

"Several of our staff had been through the program. I've used it every semester I've worked on my master's, and I honestly don't think I could've done it without that assistance," Hill said.

With her master's in hand, Hill plans to continue her career at KU. A Goodland native who grew up in Boulder, Colo., she wants to continue working with students in admissions. Possibly in the future she wants to work in career counseling or advising.

"I may be a KU lifer. I'm very happy to be here. Lawrence is home, and KU is definitely my second home," Hill said.

Now that she can put the books down, Hill said she is thrilled to be able to focus completely on her two full-time jobs: one in admissions and scholarships, the other as a full-time mom.

Hill knows how financially, physically and emotionally daunting the thought of going back to school can be, but urged anyone considering enrolling in the Tuition Assistance Program to do it. She even offered a bit of advice.

"I would say that persistence is absolutely key," she said. "There are days when you wonder ‘what the heck am I doing?' But it's definitely all worth it."

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