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Advisor of the month: August 2018

Maureen Deisinger, Advisor of the Month for August. Advising Matters at Virginia Tech

Maureen Deisinger

Geography and Meteorology, College of Natural Resources and Environment


What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
An advising mentor once told me that advisers are the "front face" of a department. As an adviser, I like that I can be part of delivering a first impression that travels with a student through their time at the university.

One of my favorite parts of the advising relationship is getting to watch students change as they change, struggle, and grow as they moved toward their goals. While many of my student affairs colleagues see a student in one facet of their time at the university, I have the honor of seeing them through the whole experience. I like to notice the way that a new freshman carries themselves and compare it to how a senior carries themselves.

My role is to support students in their goals, whatever they may be. I see myself as a mentor, a cheerleader, a resource, and one of the people to which student’s turn when there are struggles or chances for celebration. Students consider me a sounding board, a nudger, a double checker, an enthusiastic supporter, a confidant, a person that they trust, and ultimately, a friend.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I think that having a consistent and ongoing relationship with each student is one of the most important contributions that advisers can make. Being housed within a department allows me to hear what faculty think and experience and how they make decisions which has helped me to become a better adviser.

I like helping students to develop confidence in learning to navigate within a large system. Much of what overwhelms a student can be as simple as knowing where to go and who to ask. The experience of using the resources that exist while finding the right people and places to find answers is so important to a student’s lifelong learning and success.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Develop a good rapport with students by treating them with respect, concern, and honesty. I think a good adviser strives to meet each student wherever they are at. One of the most important advising skills is to probe…and then really listen and to hear what is being said and to see what is not being said.

Serve as the conduit between the student affairs and the academic affairs side of the university. Be involved in department life and be prepared to translate university culture and curricular expectations to students.

Challenge, support, guide, ask, listen, mentor, reflect, and celebrate!