Schar School alumna Lisa Greenhill has never let not being something stop her. The 1995 Government and International Politics and 2000 Master’s in Public Administration grad is not a veterinarian and she’s not White, yet she is a top executive at a leading veterinary education agency in a decidedly non-minority profession. Greenhill is Senior Director for Institutional Research and Diversity at the Washington, D.C.-based Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, where she develops initiatives to increase minority representation in the field by working with veterinary school leaders.
How was your Mason experience?
As an undergraduate I was a Mason Scholar and there was a very strong close-knit community that I was able to call home. I'm still in contact with a lot of the friends I made during those formative adult years. The folks I met while I was a student were driven and wanted to accomplish great things which helped push me forward and write my own accomplished story.
Being a full-time student, and being immersed in my studies, made me realize that I could accomplish more than just good grades, that life was bigger than just academia. Mentorship and building a network with my professors were major takeaways for me. Having the guidance from one-on-one time with my professors paid dividends over time, and it helped me land internships and opportunities I wouldn’t have been able to land without them.
How did you benefit from the generosity of others?
As a first-generation college student, I applied to many institutions. I visited [and was impressed by] Mason's [Fairfax] campus, and as the eldest of three children, I applied for Mason's full-ride scholarship and thankfully received it. The scholarship opened so many doors for me—it allowed me to be immersed in my studies, and all the additional opportunities that Mason provided, including internships on Capitol Hill. It also allowed me to take on the debt to do my advanced degrees, including my doctoral degree.
How did your time at the Schar School prepare you for your career?
I knew I wanted to work in policy while a student at Mason. Early on, I worked as a lobbyist, and as I shifted into advocacy and inclusion—I still give credit to the work I did early on while a student at Mason. Currently, I still draw on the education I received from Mason in my day-to-day work. Having a basis of understanding about different funding methodologies early on helps me work with individual colleges more successfully.
I certainly use content from my MPA program on assisting colleges of veterinary medicine to plan long-term funding to support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. With more than 50 institutions in my portfolio, each college does budgeting in different ways. Who knew there were so many ways to count a dollar?
What motivates you every day?
I care about students, and I care about people. I want everyone in this profession to have the best experience they could have by being their whole selves. I want to continue to build on the foundation that's been built in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that goal helps me wake up every day and do the best I can for the community I serve and represent.
What is one piece of advice you’d give a college student today?
Go to office hours. Don't just text or email, make an appointment and meet with your professors in person or over Zoom. Build a network of relationships with your professors and mentors in your circle. Having access to community learning outside of the classroom is key in succeeding as a student. By cultivating relationships, I was able to receive two internships through faculty recommendations. Step outside of the digital space when you can, and build intentional relationships.
Schar School fact: The Schar School is ranked No. 22 in the world, No. 11 in the U.S, and No. 1 in the Washington, D.C, region for public administration programs (ShanghaiRanking, 2019).