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Member Profile: Matt Cunningham

Name:  Matt Cunningham
Position/Title:  Senior Assistant Director of Admissions
Current institution:  Lehigh University
How long have you been in the profession?:  4.5 years

Give us some background! Where are you from, where did you grow up, a little info on what you do in your position at Lehigh?
I am originally from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania - born, raised, whole life there.  I graduated in 2011 from Bucknell University with my bachelors in European History.  In 2012, I started at Lehigh (a rival of my alma mater so that's always fun during basketball season...) and have been there since.  Currently, I am the counselor for Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Virginia and I coordinate one of our honors programs, direct the Lehigh tour guide program, organize our admitted student events, and do a lot with our daily visit offerings.

Can you share anything about your own college advising experience?
I am a poster child for "do as I say, not as I did."  Looking back now, I did so many things wrong in my college search.  I never asked for help from my counselors, was all over the place with my college list, and was one of those students who ran to the guidance office on the last day before winter break needing all sorts of things for my applications.  I like to think that this helps when I share advice with students because I know exactly what it feels like to be rushing through the process at the last minute.

What’s a special or hidden talent that you have? 
I like trying to have lists of kind of random stuff memorized - I've got all the US presidents in order and all the British monarchs in I'm working on Olympic host cities. 

What did you think you wanted to be when you were 5 years old?
Most likely, 5 year old me would say that I wanted to be a Power Ranger.

What drew you to your current position?
My original game plan was to become a high school history or government teacher.  But, after student teaching during my senior year, I realized that that wasn't the right setting for me.  At Bucknell, I was super involved as the tour guide program and, about two months before graduation, I had the realization that I could do admissions as a career, just like the counselors I saw pretty much every day.

What has been your favorite moment in your current position?
I have two moments which are a tie.  It's between the time that I was called "Yankee" at one of my first high school visits during my first travel season (at a school in Texas that shall remain nameless...) and the time that an applicant called me and my bright yellow pants and bow tie out in his essay as a reason he felt Lehigh was a good fit for him.

What keeps you excited about working in college admission counseling?
The people.  I've been incredibly fortunate to work with some great colleagues, from both at Lehigh and among my fellow road warriors, and amazing counselors.  This process can be tough and stressful for school and admissions counselors, as well as the students, and I am always excited for the great people that I get to work with through the year.

What’s one thing we definitely have to know about you?
I am trying to bring cowboy boots to Lehigh.  I am currently a one-man campaign but I'm working on it!

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Comments on "Member Profile: Matt Cunningham"

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Ismael Rodriguez - Monday, January 30, 2017

Matt, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with the TACAC group. Definitely TACAC is about building a network of colleagues and having road warriors for @#$*!istance along the lonely Texas Roads. We are thrilled that you decided to join the admission field because we are lucky and students are lucky as well to be able to receive the guidance of someone who knows that experience. Thank you for all that you do and hope you will stay involved through one of our committees. Ismael Rodriguez President, Texas ACAC

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