This summer, PhilaU Today will shine the spotlight on members of the University staff. Here’s the first article in the series.
Megan Mills, director of Philadelphia University’s Academic Success Center (ASC), proudly displays a handmade, batik-patterned Nigerian woman’s kaftan, a token of gratitude from the mother of a former University student. While the vibrant-colored tunic reflects the diversity of the student’s native African culture, it also represents the tale of perseverance and courage that describes the very nature of the work Mills knows she was always meant to do.
Mills’ days of mentoring and counseling students in their academic pursuits originated with a position at her alma mater as an admissions counselor. She eventually transferred to athletics as the assistant director but continued to engage with students in an advising capacity. These opportunities gave her a holistic view of the college experience and how to interact with students as they navigate their undergraduate years.
The lure of working in a department devoted entirely to academic learning and advising was what led Mills to PhilaU. As director, her average day involves advising first-year and transfer students not only with academics but overseeing additional support in time management and study skills; exploring and implementing retention tools; and collaborating with numerous University departments. She enjoys coordinating with faculty members who serve as advisers for first-year students and transfers in assisting their transition to college and their overall academic journey.
The days are long, but the work is rewarding, Mills notes. “Support hours don’t end at 5. Most students require evening and weekend assistance, and ASC needs to be there for them.”
In her nine years at PhilaU, Mills continues to build off the strong foundation established by her predecessor and mentor. This past academic year, the Center welcomed a new learning support specialist. Under her leadership and the hard work and dedication of her staff, ASC proudly contributes to strong retention rates for PhilaU.
But Mills isn’t one to slow down. She’s currently working with the Registrar’s Office and the Office of Information Resources to launch an online academic planning module, where students can map out their entire four years at PhilaU.
While Mills loves the beauty and intricate design of the tunic she received from her student’s mom, the story of helping a young man who faced cultural and learning challenges is the best gift she can ever receive.
“It took a village to get him to graduation,” Mills recalls. “But seeing his mother’s face and how proud she was, made it all worthwhile.”