MURRAY, Ky. — Graduate student Megan Gullett said she chose to stay at Murray State University to pursue her master’s degree in postsecondary education administration because she saw potential in the program and wanted to be a part of helping it grow.
“Murray State won me over because of the programs they offered and the friendliness of the campus,” Gullett said. “I truly loved coming to campus and seeing all of the students and being helped by all of our wonderful orientation staff.”
The Racer alumna from Mount Juliet, Tennessee, graduated with her bachelor’s degree in international studies and is currently seeking a position within higher education after earning her master’s degree in May 2018.
“My current goal is to work in higher education in an area that provides support to minority students, such as our international students, students with disabilities or transfer students,” Gullett said. “These areas of higher education are important to me and higher education at large.”
Gullett said she hopes to one day become a director or a dean of students at a college or university. She became interested in working in higher education — specifically international education — after studying abroad as an undergraduate student.
“I met with some people who worked as third-party consultants for the program provider I was travelling with, and I wanted to learn more about education abroad,” Gullett said. “My interests in higher education have since expanded.”
Gullett is currently the treasurer for the Association for Postsecondary Education Administrative Leaders. The association works to connect postsecondary education students with practitioners in the field of higher education as well as act as a networking opportunity for current administrators at Murray State. She also served three terms as president for the International Cultures and Languages Association before stepping down.
“Murray State is a wonderful university because it offers so many opportunities to students who look for something more to do,” Gullett said. “My program has allowed me to do research within the field of higher education, something that I discussed during Scholars Week this year, and has allowed me to start networking.”
Gullett received a grant from the Office of Research & Creative Activities (ORCA) during the fall 2017 semester to further aid her in presenting her research.
“I believe that Murray State is an institution that allows you to thrive if you give yourself a chance,” Gullett said. “I am highly grateful that Murray State offers such monies to students in order for them to pursue their academic and research interests.”
The graduate student ultimately presented at the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students in February 2018. She presented twice at the three-day conference — once as a poster presentation regarding the impact Tennessee Promise had on career counseling centers at four-year institutions in addition to conducting a high-value lecture discussing the importance of financial aid as a recruitment tool for Tennessee Promise and transfer students.
“Presenting at a national conference, twice, was an awe-inspiring experience because it helped bolster my presenting skills, my networking abilities, and I was able to experience a conference from an active member’s perspective,” Gullett said. “If anyone is ever offered the opportunity to present, I highly recommend it for the experience itself on top of the other benefits that you can obtain from the experience.”
From the start of her master’s program, Gullett has worked as a research assistant for Dr. Ben Littlepage, whom she credits with affording her the opportunity to work with research. The pair interviewed 80 administrators across four different college areas, which took an entire semester to complete in an effort to determine if accommodations were made to meet the differing needs of Tennessee Promise students.
Gullett also said two of her favorite Murray State professors, Dr. Jie Wu and Littlepage, have helped her grow and develop as a student and professional, preparing her for what is to come next.
“Dr. Wu, a Chinese language and culture professor, has helped me open up here at Murray State and gave me a chance as a student that ultimately helped me exceed within my degree,” Gullett said. “She has been a constant in my life these past four years, and I appreciate everything that she has done for me.”
Littlepage, her program coordinator, has also acted as a mentor and helped her find her niche within higher education.
“I appreciate both Dr. Wu and Dr. Littlepage for giving me the chance to flourish and for sticking with me when things at school became hard,” Gullett said.
Because many careers within higher education require a master’s degree, Gullett said earning her degree in postsecondary education administration is her first step in entering the profession.
“To be honest, this degree is exciting because it is propelling me into the career and future I want for myself,” Gullett said. “I am going to be able to help others who attend college because of this degree, so it means a lot to me that Murray State is helping me help others.”
Gullett said she is excited for what is to come after graduation, but she still has work to complete before walking across the stage to shake Murray State President Bob Davies’ hand.
“I am ready to get there but am also nervous and excited about what is past that line,” Gullett said. “I am also excited to graduate because it is the accumulation of all of my hard work and dedication toward my degree and my future.”
Commencement services at Murray State will take place May 12 in the CFSB Center with an undergraduate ceremony at 9 a.m. and a graduate and doctoral ceremony at 2 p.m. Tickets will not be required for either ceremony. Use #RacerGraduation on social media to share the commencement experience. Additional information is available at murraystate.edu/commencement.