Faculty Spotlight: Austin Hill

It's been said that if you choose a job you love, you'll never have to work a day in your life. Austin Hill, Ed.D., adjunct faculty and Career and Jobs Navigator for Harford, feels this way each and every day – and says having several jobs doesn’t change those feelings one bit. As adjunct faculty in our Continuing Education, Business & Applied Technology (CEBAT) division, Dr. Hill has delivered traditional, hybrid and online courses instruction in both traditional and accelerated formats. He assisted with the development and review of course offerings within CEBAT and continues to teach foundational continuing education classes like Intro to Business, Intro to Management, ABE II Math, and Business Comp Applications.

He balances his role at HCC with his position leading the Academy of Finance, a specialized business program at Edgewood High School where he’s created an average 85% pass rate on National Academy Foundation courses. In this influential role, he's had the distinct pleasure of guiding 190+ young scholars on a path toward college and career readiness. Under his leadership, the Academy has grown 220% in two years, experienced an average of 94% of seniors graduating with their national certification, and developed new programming that has received local and national attention. He's increased levels of involvement and support from industry leaders, business owners and CEOs in Harford County in the program and is often to referred to by business and community leaders as a "Champion for Edgewood."

Known as a change agent, he is building opportunities for his students and challenging them to connect to their community – bridging the gap for the Edgewood and Joppatowne areas in both his work as a faculty member at Harford and in his role as Finance Academy Coordinator at Edgewood HS. He likes to be known as "leading the reshaping of the K-14 workforce that is both college and career-ready, one student at a time." He works hard to assist students so they become gainfully employed whether at the high school or college levels.

Dr. Hill has increased his role here at Harford by serving as the K-12 to College Navigator, working as a liaison between Harford County Public Schools Career and Technology Education programs and Harford's CEBAT dual credit initiative. He works together to develop enrollment schedules and course selection in line with MSDE graduation requirements for high school students. He participates in student recruitment initiatives at local events, holds and hosts workforce development sessions with local business partners to identify workforce needs and develop solutions to those needs, and works closely with administrators to provide necessary credentials for HCPS staff members advising dual enrollment students. Dr. Hill prides himself on being the connection between teachers, staff and students. He's willing to take the time, he says, "to bridge the gap and help move a generation of people forward." Harford has seen a 310% increase in enrollment in the Business Administration and Accounting dual credit courses since 2018, when his work began on the initiative.

Dr. Hill is also extremely proud of his endeavor with HCC Business faculty members Ryker Hughes (now retired) and Miriam Wigglesworth, both advocates for our students, in which they collaborated to find funding for Edgewood High School students currently receiving free and/or reduced lunches via the MD State Department of Education. These students received tuition waivers to attend HCC as dual enrollment students but struggled to afford textbooks for their classes. They leveraged their connections with APG Federal Credit Union to create textbook scholarships, thereby eliminating that barrier to their students' education.

Harford's North Star initiative is getting an additional boost with its new dual credit welding program at Harford Tech that Dr. Hill has been helping to strengthen by setting and building schedules and creating orientations and parent meetings.

Kelly Koermer, Dean of the CEBAT division, says, "Career pathways, access to college, and student success are Dr. Hill's passions. He never loses sight of individual students and their needs. His work demonstrates that he is a change agent in K-20 education and within the community."

In addition, he serves as an HCC intermediary at the Edgewood Branch of the Harford County Library to reach students in the area, facilitating their next steps toward enhancing their skill sets. He also teaches several of the credit classes being offered at the new location.

Dr. Hill serves as part of HCC's Faculty Advisory Council, an elected workgroup designed to improve practices that directly impact the College community. As a member of the Route 40 Business Association, he assists with the "Good Things Happening in Edgewood" Facebook page to tout positive momentum for the community.

Most recently he worked closely with Thompson Toyota to build an apprenticeship program by inviting General Manager Ron Filling to the high school to work with students. With Thompson's Dealer Principal Fred Anderson, the three formed a bond to work with soon-to-be Edgewood High School graduates that evolved into a home-grown automotive apprenticeship program in the Edgewood/Joppa community. Soon, Dr. Hill will bring these same apprentices back to Edgewood High to talk about their experiences and encourage new students to apply for the program. Through the CEBAT division and the HCC Foundation, these apprentices are also receiving Driver Education training so they can become more independent, on and off the job.

Dr. Hill's infectious passion for the southeastern Route 40 corridor is inspiring other faculty and staff to join him in connecting workforce training and College classes for the residents of the area.

Recently, Dr. Hill was awarded a "Champion for Children and Youth Award" by the Harford County Department of Community Services Local Management Board, honoring those who've made major contributions in Harford County to improve the lives of children and young adults. This "Champion for Edgewood" and "Champion for Children" modestly acknowledges, "I don’t think too much on those names, but I would want someone to do these things for my child or my community. Knowing that I have an opportunity to help motivate a student or change lives is something that excites me, humbles me, and gives me the drive that keeps me going on those long days and nights."

With all of the incredible work he's accomplished supporting youth readiness and employment initiatives in Harford County, you would think he'd been born and raised here – but that’s not the case. Originally from Delaware, this now-Harford County citizen calls Edgewood home and believes in the betterment of his students and his fellow residents.

Wearing so many hats, performing so many duties, and giving so much of himself to so many, his free time is precious. Recently engaged, he spends that time with his fiancée Brittany and daughter Kori. Dr. Hill is also a self-proclaimed "gadget and gizmos" guy. He’s a huge technology and Apple product fan and dabbles in photography.

Here's hoping his passion for helping others and his love for HCC, Harford County and his job never feel like work. We don't think it will – Dr. Austin Hill truly is a champion!