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Advisor of the month: April 2017

Priscilla, Advisor of the Month for April, Advising Matters at Virginia Tech

Priscilla Baker

Biological Systems Engineering, College of Engineering


What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
Obviously, I enjoy working with students or I would not be in this field. Probably the thing I enjoy most about working with them is the fact that I am problem-solving all day long. They come in, often stressed, with a problem, we solve it or take steps towards solving it, and they leave happy and relieved. That's the cycle of my day and I really enjoy that!

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
Prior to my being hired, advising was split amongst all the faculty, so this has been a big change for the department to have one-stop shopping in terms of advising. Now, students get a unified, consistent, and informed message. Aside from academic advising, I have also gone to great lengths to increase student awareness of professional development, co-op, research, job, and study abroad opportunities, I send out two weekly newsletters - one with academic information and the other with career and professional development information. Students find these very focused and helpful. I have multiple resources for students on my Canvas site related to course planning, study abroad, careers, research, etc. My aim is for students to maximize their time and save students from needless hassle while here at Virginia Tech, and these resources serve to do that.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
My advice would be to treat each student who walks through the door as if it is your first appointment of the day, and if you have kids of your own, treat each student how you hope an advisor would treat your child. I really try to keep that in mind when I am feeling particularly tired or frustrated. I would hate to think that anyone leaving my office would feel that I was not welcoming or that it was not worth their time. I also use the mantra I used throughout 20 years of waitressing my way through high school, college, grad school, and beyond: "Anticipate customer needs and bring them what they need before they even know they need it."