spea magazine

Cream of the Crop

Student Stories: Megan Hoot

megan hoot “My mom asked, ‘Megan, you’ve only been there a month and the magazine already wants to talk to you?’” Megan Hoot looks a little embarrassed as she recounts her mother’s question. It is, perhaps, one of the few things this first-year graduate student has to be modest about.

In the few months since joining SPEA’s nonprofit management program, Hoot has already made her mark, in the school and in the Bloomington community. This, after four years doing the same as an undergraduate at the University of Florida, where she crafted a minor of her own in organization leadership for nonprofit management.

As for extracurricular activities, Hoot approached them with vigor and determination, serving as president and founder of Gator Humanics, a division of American Humanics, which educates and prepares students to work in the nonprofit world. In her “spare” time she managed the Office of Community Service and Center for Leadership and Service, helped collect 30,000 pounds of food for a local food bank, and raised $15,000 to build four parks in an underprivileged part of town. With all this, she still found time to serve as the University of Florida’s Homecoming Queen in 2004.
It shouldn’t be too surprising though, considering her family ties. Her father is an environmental engineer, her mother teaches special education, and her younger brother wants to become a firefighter. “Being a civil servant is a life-long calling for me,” she says.

Hoot declined all other graduate school offers, including Harvard’s, to come to SPEA. “SPEA is definitely more student-focused,” says Hoot, who especially likes the fact that people publishing the foremost research in nonprofit management happen to be the same people teaching her classes and taking an interest in her future.

Her first exposure to SPEA came from her contact with SPEA’s Les Lenkowsky, at the Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service, a summer program sponsored by The Fund for American Studies. The experience had such an impact on her, in fact, that she volunteered to help run the institute the following year and is now a graduate assistant for Professor Lenkowsky, helping to plan a social entrepreneurship conference in the spring.

Now that she’s here, Hoot hasn’t wasted any time maximizing the opportunities at SPEA, getting more hands-on training through SPEA’s Service Corps program. She is currently working with the United Way Community Services of Monroe County as the Community Impact Associate there. One of Hoot’s roles, at the moment, is to assist with a relief fund for the nearly 300 Hurricane Katrina refugees who have moved to the area.

Clearly, Hoot has adapted quickly to her Indiana campus. There is, however, one thing she isn’t thrilled about. “I’m not looking forward to the cold Indiana winters. I am going to miss the sun and flip-flops,” says the Florida native.

Looking ahead to graduation, Hoot says she already knows what she hopes to do with her SPEA degree: work at a nonprofit alliance that will allow her to help form collaborative efforts among many different groups under one umbrella. Above all, Hoot wants to be what she calls a “change agent.” As she puts it, “In order to change the tide, you have to get in the water.”