Undergraduate experiences spark alumna's higher education careerShannon McCullough | Psychology B.S. | Alumna | 2004 | Department of Psychology
As a freshman psychology student, Shannon McCullough thought her professor had her mixed up with someone else. But when she was asked to become a teaching assistant her second semester though, that professor instead had identified an important strength for mentoring others in McCullough.
That set off a chain of events that created McCullough’s path to a doctorate degree in education and her career as a higher education change maker.
As an undergraduate psychology student, McCullough become involved in a then-new program at the Bepko Learning Center called the Structured Learning Assistance. She then became one of the first psychology peer mentors in 2001.
“I’m very proud because that program became the subject of my doctoral research, so that’s a big point of pride for me,” she said. Shannon earned her Ph.D. in higher education from the IU School of Education in 2016.
During her undergrad years in the School of Science, McCullough valued her experience in peer mentoring and teaching.
“I got more higher level pedagogical skills because I was teaching it, I was facilitating the content in groups of my peers and just getting more engaged with the discipline” she said. “There was just a sense of community with the School through the work I did.”
‘The Great Eight’
A viral social media post put her doctoral degree into perspective. A post written by another doctoral student shared that eight women of color would be receiving a Ph.D. from the School of Education—the most women of color to receive this highest degree at the same time in the IU history.
McCullough saw that post and realized she was one of those eight. That lead to a social media and press frenzy for the group dubbed ‘The Great Eight.’
That humbling experience gave McCullough pause – why are so few women of color pursuing advance degrees? To continue that conversation and support others, McCullough and the other women created the Great Eight Scholarship.
The power of mentoring
After receiving her undergraduate degree, McCullough found her way back to IUPUI with her first professional position as coordinator of science mentoring initiatives at the Bepko Learning Center.
“I realized when I was the happiest and what thrilled me, and it was being in higher education and mentoring,” McCullough said.
Her career took her to now serving as Assistant Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs at the Herron School of Art + Design at IUPUI. She credits her background in science and analytical skills for allowing her to lead through research and data.
Still being a mentor and finding mentors shapes McCullough’s career through personal growth and research. She encourages students to utilize IUPUI and School programs to find a mentor and to be one!
Mentors don’t have to be older and often finding a peer who is like you and has had similar experiences can offer the best guidance, she said.
Mentoring helps student pursue goalsTiffnay Mcintire 2014 Alumna, B.A. Psychology