Get to Know Blackhawk’s Xanthe Kuhn, Academic Advisor
November 21, 2023
Welcome to our “Get to Know Blackhawk” series, which uses a Q&A format to showcase the diverse and talented individuals within the college community.
What is your name and where did you grow up?
My name is Xanthe Kuhn, and even though I’ve grown up all around northern Illinois, I call Rockford home.
What is your role at Blackhawk Technical College?
I am an academic advisor, which was the whole reason I got into higher education in the first place! It’s my first love in education.
What was your journey to this role? Where did you go to school? What did you study?
I got my bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the University of North Dakota, and my master’s in higher education and student affairs at Northern Illinois University. Before coming to Blackhawk, I worked at the University of Akron, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and NIU, and I regularly volunteer with UND.
Is there something that drew you to this career?
I was a student who was predicted to do really well in college, and I fell flat on my face. I had a lot of issues balancing my schoolwork, music, hobbies and work life. My school didn’t have professional academic advisors, and I always wanted to be the resource that I didn’t have when I was going to school. I am also a fourth-generation “academic” – my great-grandfather, grandfather, grandmother, and mother were all instructors, professors, or teachers at some point during their careers.
What motivated you to apply for this position at Blackhawk?
I wanted to get back to working with students every day, and I wanted to stay close to home. I also really wanted to work at a place that was interested in serving the community, in a role that foregrounded the student experience.
What is something Blackhawk offers its students that you feel other colleges do not?
I really love the size of Blackhawk, as well as the focus on serving the community. I also feel like this has been the first place where I’ve gotten a good opportunity to meet everyone I’ll be working with within the first two weeks.
What is your life like outside of work? Family? Community involvement? Adorable pets?
I’m a pretty quiet guy! My mom and stepfather, aunt, and grandmother all live within an hour of me. I still volunteer regularly with the University of North Dakota’s marching band and head to North Dakota and Minneapolis once every month or so. At home, I have an adorable orange cat named Cheddar, who is in the process of destroying my couch.
Tell us something about yourself you think people would be surprised to know.
I am a pretty good saxophonist! I played for the University of North Dakota’s music department as a low reed specialist (bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone) – if it had a saxophone, I played in it! I got to travel a lot with the Pride of the North Marching Band at UND, and I was their equipment manager for two years and volunteered to do it again this summer. I will be playing with them in their upcoming FCS playoff game against Sacramento State!
Who is your biggest influence?
One of my college band directors, Tammy Mulske. She encouraged me to become an advisor and showed me that you can always choose a different path in life, being ambitious isn’t always bad, and that varied experiences are always a good thing. She also showed me that I am a huge fan of ice hockey, and I am capable of being a good musician.
What was your first job?
I worked at a Five Guys in Grand Forks, North Dakota. My job mainly consisted of telling our Canadian customers that we did not have gravy available.
What is your favorite TV show?
I apparently have an encyclopedic knowledge of “The Simpsons.” I do love “The Simpsons” a lot.
If you had to pick one season to live in all year round, which season would you choose?
Winter. I like the snow, the darkness, and blankets.
Who is your favorite Muppet?
Beaker. He looks exactly like my best friend.
What is your favorite pizza topping?
What I call the “Actual Hawaiian Pizza” – bacon, pineapple, and if available, barbecue sauce.
What was your first concert?
A “Weird Al” Yankovic concert. It was exactly as weird as his name implies.
Who is your favorite comic book character?
It’s more a concept, but someone tried to make a whole line of hockey-themed heroes called “The Guardian Project,” which was strange. Stan Lee helped out, but it never took off – it’s an obscure “what could have been.”
If you could learn any language, which one would you choose?
I always wanted to learn how to speak French so I could maybe move to Quebec one day. I’m terrible with languages, though!
What/who is your favorite sports team or pro athlete?
I am a proud fan of the Seattle Kraken, the NHL’s newest (and best) team. Also, I love the Rockford Icehogs and try to go to a few games every year.
What is your favorite movie?
Do the children remember “Airplane!”? Because it’s a perfectly crafted parody and has such a deep understanding of pop culture and appreciation for the work it’s parodying.
If you could pick any foreign country to travel to, which one would you pick?
Japan, especially rural Japan outside of Tokyo.
What’s one thing on your bucket list?
I’m on a quest to visit every NHL stadium and collect a souvenir cup.