The Learner Advocate: Meet Sam Hanlon


As a counselor in Learner Advising and Life Resources, many learners know Sam Hanlon. Part of her main focus at Nightingale College is to help learners in not only the academic environment but to provide support and guidance to positively influence their role as a learner and prospective nurse. Sam currently resides in California with her husband and three-month old daughter, Olive. Although she is a few states away from home base, she represents Nightingale College well on the West Coast  and brings her passion for helping learners to her daily activities.

How long have you been with Nightingale College and what is your position? 
I have been with Nightingale for a little over a year, since June 2015.

Where did you go to school and what is your highest degree? 
I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, San Francisco and my master’s degree in School Counseling Psychology with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential (which allows me to work with learners on academic and socio-emotional issues) from the University of San Francisco.

What drove you to apply for the position with Nightingale College? 
My mom drove me to apply for this position. She is a nurse and currently teaches in the doctoral nursing program at the University of San Francisco. I have always looked up to her and have had a passion for nursing and education, but I could never be a nurse. I will pass out if I see a drop of blood! I have always wanted to work in education and Nightingale College allows me to make an impact in the lives of future nurses, without the blood!

How do you help learners at Nightingale College?
I help learners by offering them resources for academic needs and offering support and guidance for any issues they are having. I am here to be an advocate for the learners and help them with whatever they need.

What is your favorite part about your job?
Getting to know the learners and watching them succeed!

What is your favorite part about working in the LALR Department?
I love being able to be an advocate for learners and find and create new resources for them. The LALR department gives me the opportunity to support learners in a variety of different ways based on what the learner needs to be successful.

What departments, if any, do you work closely with?
I work closely with registrar, admissions, and instructors. However, I am here as an advocate for learners so any questions learners have that I cannot answer or that is not part of my department, I can get by reaching out to different faculty because our faculty is awesome that way.

What is your piece of advice to learners struggling to juggle nursing school?
The best piece of advice I can give to learners is have one day a week where they do something they love and not think about school or their problems. When school is getting challenging and you are frustrated, step away for a minute and have a snack, watch a TV show, go for run, do something that you love that will calm you. It is really hard juggling school, work, family, etc, but always remember, in the end, you are going to fulfill such an amazing goal of being a nurse!

Please provide anything else about your position that you would like the learners to know. 
If there are any resources learners need and I don’t have it, I can find it for them. If they are having any issues in school or their personal life that is affecting their school work, they can come talk to me.  If they just need someone to vent to, I’m here. I am here to be their advocate, their supporter, their cheerleader, and their counselor.

What is the strangest talent you have?
I would have to say the one real talent I have is speaking/teaching Hebrew. I teach Hebrew school at my temple and mentor kids for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. A strange talent I have is that I can change a clock in any car, which comes in handy about twice a year, if that.

If you could travel anywhere, where would your destination be and why?
Definitely Bora Bora because I LOVE the ocean and Bora Bora has bungalows that are literally over the water with glass floors so you can see the fish! You can also jump right into the water from your room and it looks absolutely gorgeous!

What motivates you? 
My family motivates me. I want to show my daughter that women can make a difference and we can do anything we put our minds to. I want to do the best I can every day for her.

What is something you would like to accomplish by the end of the year?
By the end of the year, I hope to expand the LALR department to offer learners even more resources and support.

What are three things on your bucket list?

  1. Go to Bora Bora
  2. Have another child (preferably a boy!)
  3. Buy a house

What or who brings a smile to your face? 
There are 3 people (well, one is an animal) in my life that make me smile. First, is my dog Tchotchke (pronounced chaw-ch-kee, it’s Yiddish for knick-knack). She is a 3-year-old Yorkie Pomeranian, and she is the sweetest, smartest pup ever! Second, is my husband Brian.  He is the love of my life and since I have been with him (we have been together 8 years and married for 2), I haven’t gone a day without smiling.  Last but not least, is my 3-month-old baby girl Olive Marie. I have always wanted to be a mom and I could not be happier with my baby girl. She is my everything. If I am having a bad day, seeing her little toothless smile will always bring a smile to my face!

Share anything else you would like the learners to know about you personally. 
I was born and raised in California and I currently reside in the East Bay.  I am a big TV and movie buff.  Some of my favorite (current) shows are Game of Thrones, anything on Bravo (well, any reality TV really), and Pretty Little Liars. I also love cooking shows, but I hate cooking.  I am a vegetarian (I do eat fish, so technically, I’m a pescetarian) and I have been since I was 10 years old!  One more fun fact is that I collect hands and clowns. I know, weird right? I don’t understand it either.

Sam is Nightingale College’s Counselor, Learner Advising and Life Resources. To get in touch with Sam, email her at