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Megan Bettilyon

Student Org Liaison and Outreach Coordinator in the UofU College of Engineering
MEd with Student Affairs Emphasis, 2021

Megan graduated at a difficult time. COVID had just hit hard, and there weren’t a lot of jobs, but she soon found herself in the College of Engineering. Megan has a student affairs background, so this role allows her to have a totally new work experience. With her humanities training, she’s also having an impact and bringing a unique perspective to the college.

The engineering and academic administration world has Megan working closely with 40 different student organizations, 11 different programs, and 8 different departments, many of which overlap with one another and with other colleges/schools on campus like the School of Computing. Megan sees this as an exciting opportunity to break down silos and increase organizational strengths, with a keen understanding that coordination is vital. She is also working to improve cross-campus collaborations by connecting with other departments. A recent example is two student organizations that were independently working on putting a satellite cube into space. Unaware of each other’s existence, Megan got the two groups in communication, increasing resources and avoiding competition for the same funding dollars. The next areas she will conquer are engineering research and grants.

One of Megan’s many goals is to further social justice, diversity, and inclusion in engineering. Her work is already paying off. A 3-day engineering summer camp for high school students that the college runs had traditionally been just for females. But Megan opened up the camp to any gender identification. She also kicked off the camp with some gender equality training, which is critical for prospective students entering a field where men hold most the positions. This experience reinforced how necessary Megan’s work is. “It was sad to hear the female students, just in high school still, talk about their experiences with issues surrounding gender,” said Megan. The college’s summer camp will now be an important space where students of all gender identifications can learn about gender equity. Her next project is a new research program for high school students from underrepresented groups. It’ll mean working closely and collaborating with the college’s Executive Committee.

Megan uses the training from her ELP program every day. The program was a natural fit for her interests and experience, but it was also the only one to offer graduate student assistantships with fully paid tuition plus a stipend; this was a massive draw because Megan knew many competing programs did not offer student assistantship funding. In contrast, everyone in Megan’s cohort had a student assistantship except for those that were already working. Not only was the financial support essential, but her assistantship also taught her how to work with students one on one and to build cross-campus collaborations—things she needs every day at the College of Engineering. Megan’s assistantship was at the Bennion Center and was very practitioner-based, giving her lots of real-world, hands-on experience. Besides, graduating from the University of Utah is a family tradition. Her grandpa was a graduate of the U, both of her parents graduated from the U, and all her brothers and their wives graduated from the U. She wasn’t going to be the first to break with a long-honored tradition! And that PhD she’s contemplating? Well, if she decides to pursue that, she’ll definitely be at the U.