Associate Dean of Students for Student Engagement Travis Hill.

“Infusing validation, normalizing experience, embracing struggle and failure, and promoting self-advocacy and wellbeing.” These are the words Travis Hill sees on his whiteboard when he walks into his office every morning. As Associate Dean of Students for Student Engagement, Hill has sought to make these words more than just pretty letters on his wall, but instead, a call to action, especially for his new podcast series: Life on the Hill.

Since its first episode in mid-August, the series has released seven episodes, featured 11  guests, and collectively amassed more than 677 plays across a number of countries even beyond the United States. Topics have ranged from transitioning to college, setting goals, getting involved, and reinventing yourself on campus.

The first episode featured Dean of Students Terry Martinez, who shared her experiences as a first-generation college student. She revealed interesting tidbits about herself such as her original interest in broadcasting before finding finding her love for community work and the not for profit sector, as well as the story of how she found herself on academic probation in her first year.

“I did not do well my first year of college, from an academic perspective. From a social perspective, I was good,” Martinez revealed. “But from an academic perspective, I found myself on academic probation after my second semester because I didn’t have routines in place, I didn’t have resources, I didn’t find my place to study and not just memorize things, but learn things.”

In a similar vein, Student Assembly President and Vice President Amanda Kim ’21 and Jiin Jeong ’21 had a candid conversation about their college moments experiencing adversity.

“Everyone struggles – not everyone is advertising it, so you might always feel like ‘oh no I’m the only one struggling with this,’ but trust me, everyone else is struggling too,” Kim commented. “[It’s about] recognizing that and not feeling ashamed about that and being able to really evaluate what went wrong and how can I improve that in the future.”

While all guests do offer more serious snippets of advice, they also share lighthearted memories that offer listeners a better idea of who they are as people and their roles on campus. Hill hopes that this podcast makes their stories more accessible and brings the campus a greater feeling of community.

“I hope that people learn things that are helpful and feel validated in their experience because I think a lot more of the college experience is universal than people realize,” Hill explained. “[It’s] creating a baseline understanding of ‘wow, we’re kind of all in this together’ and sharing in this experience and then giving us the opportunity to appreciate the ways we experience it differently.”

For future episodes, Hill plans to focus on a number of topics such as study skills and academic support, methods for self-care, tackling the winter season, and being prepared for finals. All listeners can find episodes released on Spotify at Life on the Hill.  

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