Do you work in higher education administration or college student services or know someone who does? Current senior Austin Van Horn dreams of becoming a university president, a role which would impact the lives and education of thousands of future citizens. He would love your advice about the best places to work, the best graduate programs, how to get started in the field, and any other insights that you may want to offer him.

Austin is a history major who has a fascination for the imperfect American history of our relatively young nation. His dream job is to serve as a university president and not because he craves power or the spotlight, but because he wants to see a place he loves become a place that others fall in love with too. Speaking of his Longwood experience, Austin urged “I have a deep desire to help future generations become the best students, leaders, and citizens possible.”

Austin was drawn to Longwood for a whole host of reasons, and argued that it would be easier to ask “why not Longwood?” instead of “why Longwood?” But in seriousness, he replied that Longwood is “a unique home for every student and person from every background.” He continues, “I believe that Longwood and moreover, college, is about what you make of it… college is about discovering yourself and determining what you want to do for the rest of your life; Longwood is excellent at helping us to do just that.” 

Aside from his academic work, Austin has been involved in a full list of organizations both past and present. He is a brother of Gamma Psi Fraternity and has served as the Chapter Secretary, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Vice President of Housing, and Sergeant-at-Arms. He is also an Admissions Processing Assistant with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, has worked as an intern in the Office of Institutional Advancement, a Student Volunteer with the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, a host on WLMU 91.3, the campus radio station, and was a member of S.E.A.L. or Student Educators for Active Leadership.

If Austin could thank one person from his time at Longwood, it would have to be Dr. David Coles, Professor of History and former Department Chair. Austin explained that Dr. Coles “has influenced my thirst for knowledge and has captivated my imagination for the study of history and moreover, American history.” Austin further explained that Dr. Coles “has taught me that the American experience is a continuing quest for excellence and that we can’t stop striving to be and do better; he has also reminded me time and time again that even when life gets hard, it is important to keep going.” And Austin’s favorite class you ask? That would have to be LSEM100: Longwood Seminar, which was instructed by Dr. David Coles and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Lara Smith. He explained that Longwood Seminar helped him to realize that he was meant to be at Longwood, and it was an opportunity for him to “create relationships amongst his history major cohort that have led to life-long relationships”

During Austin’s second year at Longwood, he unexpectedly got sick and had to take a medical leave of absence that took a full year of his college career from him. He pushed forward and said that “during that time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to come back to any college, much less Longwood” but he affirms that when he was at his lowest “the faculty and staff and my peers reached out to me almost daily to check on me, even though I wasn’t an enrolled student, and they cared deeply for me.” The same care and compassion which was gifted to him, he wants to give to others. His drive comes from a never-ending struggle to fight for others and their wellbeing, and his measurement towards success is centered around the number of lives that have shaped him into a better person, and in turn, how many lives he will be able to shape. He continued, “... success is about the people who have an influence and it is about the greater community’s success, not just a singular individual’s fortune.”

Consider connecting with Austin on LinkedIn and share your advice and any job opportunities that could be available to him after graduation.

About the Author

Dustyn Hall ‘18

Dustyn Hall '18 is the Director of Young Alumni & Student Giving in the Office of Institutional Advancement, and has served in that role since July 2019. Before his current service at Longwood began, Dustyn worked for Phi Mu Delta National Fraternity & Educational Foundation as the Director of Advancement, where he oversaw the development, communications, and alumni engagement sectors of their operations.

Leave a Comment