Pop Quiz with Nicole Hurd

 Providing higher education access to students from low-income backgrounds is truly a collective effort. It involves advisers, funders, university partners, and national staff, among others. “Pop Quiz” is an editorial feature on the College Advising Corps blog in which individuals within these different groups share some quick fun facts and wisdom with our community. For our first Pop Quiz segment, we ask College Advising Corps Founder and CEO Nicole Hurd to respond to the following questions:


College and Year of Graduation: I did my undergraduate studies at Notre Dame, my master’s degree at Georgetown, and PhD at the University of Virginia. I can’t say the year of graduation – it might give away my age! 

What Made You Select this College: I went on a college tour with my dad to the east coast (I grew up in California).  On the way home, I described to him my ideal campus and he said, “that is my alma mater, Notre Dame”.  I enrolled at Notre Dame sight unseen, but the fight song had been in my head as I learned it about the same time I learned my ABCs! My brother and sister also went to Notre Dame, so it is a family tradition.

Nicole's father and son at Notre Dame

Nicole’s father and son at Notre Dame

Greatest Lesson Learned from Higher Education: A lifelong commitment to learning and a constant curiosity.

Favorite Class: My favorite class I taught at the University of Virginia was The History of Female Saints. It was incredibly rewarding teaching about how women can be such profound theological thinkers. There is equal rigor and value in both the writings of Thomas Aquinas and Catherine of Siena.

In terms of the favorite class I took, I would say my history and government classes.  I am a history and politics nerd!

Favorite Teacher: The nuns I lived with when I was writing my dissertation. They inspired (and continue to inspire) me with their grace and humility as they fought for social change.

Favorite Extra-curricular Activity and Why: I was a student government geek!

The Best College Mascot: As a native California girl, the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs will always have a special place in my heart (and my Fighting Irish).

Favorite College Sports Moment: The Notre Dame football team was incredibly strong when I was a student.  They won a national championship and had many amazing victories over my four years.   I can’t say the years because that would give away my age, but the eager among you can research to find out when this actually took place!

Favorite Book of All-time: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. In terms of books that have shaped my opinions on higher education access, I would recommend anything that Bill Bowen has written on the subject.

Why You Are Committed to Higher Education Access? Every morning, I wake up and think about our close to 500 advisers, like Lawrence Harris. They inspire me to work towards increasing opportunity for our nation’s students.  It is an honor to be part of an organization with such an important mission that attracts such amazing people.  Whether it is the students, the advisers, the staff, the board, or our partners, they all make me want to bring my A game to this work every day!