Skip to main content
X

Advisor Surprises Student at SNHU Commencement

Crystal Mulherin wearing a cap and gown and hugging her academic advisor Brenda Matthews.

Crystal Mulherin knew a big day was in store. She had traveled to Southern New Hampshire University's commencement in Manchester, New Hampshire and was looking forward to receiving her MBA. She was nervous about an interview with university staff about her experience earlier in the year at the SNHU LEADS (Leadership, Engage, Achieve, Discover, Succeed) Conference.

But only one of those things came true.

An interviewer asked her about her experience at the conference when a woman approached from one side and the ruse was revealed. Mulherin shrieked as she recognized Brenda Matthews, her academic advisor and a major source of support "rock" during her time at SNHU and a difficult past year, including the loss of a family member. The pair hugged briefly then Mulherin, pausing briefly, reached out for Matthews again, tears in her eyes.

Crystal Mulherin wearing a cap and gown and hugging her academic advisor Brenda Matthews."She's been my rock throughout this whole thing and she has no idea," Mulherin said. "You are amazing. You are amazing at what you do. You change students' lives and I hope you know that."

The meeting was set up after Mulherin responded to a message to students on Instagram asking who at SNHU they would most like to meet at commencement. Matthews, Mulherin wrote, deserved a "proper face-to-face thank you."

"She has gone above and beyond to support me ... ," Mulherin wrote. "I want her to know that her periodic phone calls and emails, along with just being there whenever I needed her really meant the world to me."

Matthews said she's kept the Instagram message close to hand.

"I've read it about 15 times and cried 15 times as well," she said.

Mulherin made the most of her time at SNHU. In addition to attending the SNHU LEADS Conference, where she was a featured student speaker, she participated in Global Days of Service twice, attended a SNHUConnect event near the campus and was inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success in February 2017.

"When you sign up as an online student, most people want to sit behind a keyboard, get their academics done and call it good. But I just made a mission for myself that I wanted to step out from behind the keyboard and be as involved as possible," she said.

Mulherin said she hopes to work as the CEO of a nonprofit focused on preventing domestic violence and would one day like to teach at the college level. In the short term, she's looking forward to another graduation ceremony in two years when her husband expects to receive his bachelor's in information technology.

"It was a weekend I surely will not forget," she said.

Joe Cote is a staff writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Follow him on Twitter @JoeCo2323.

Community

Explore more content like this article

Charles Wilbert

Longest-Running SNHU Employee Retires After 51 Years

April 25, 2019

Charles Wilbert, the longest-running employee at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), is retiring this spring after 51 years of teaching courses in playwriting, literature and creative writing.

A large group of people at the 5th annual SNHU LEADS Conference at Southern New Hampshire University.

Top Student Takeaways from 5th Annual SNHU Leads Conference

April 02, 2019

In mid-March, online students, alumni, faculty and staff came together on the SNHU campus with a joint focus: Leadership. The annual event provides an opportunity for 150 online students and alumni to connect face-to-face, share experiences and learn from others throughout the SNHU community.

A blue map of New Hampshire with a yellow star denoting Manchester.

SNHU, Farnum Center Partner to Help Address Opioid Crisis

March 21, 2019

A partnership between Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) and alcohol and drug recovery agency the Farnum Center brought business leaders, clinicians and educators together last week for a one-day symposium to address the opioid epidemic.

Link to SNHU Facebook Link to SNHU Twitter Link to SNHU Instagram