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Advisor of the month: December 2018

Katie White, Advisor of the Month for December. Advising Matters at Virginia Tech

Katie White

Agricultural and Applied Economics, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
100% - my students. I am incredibly grateful and privileged to work with my students every day. During these transitional years, the opportunity to be a part of their lives and help with these important decisions is extremely rewarding. I am incredibly appreciative of my students’ trust and willingness to ask for help. While my students are typically the ones who ask for help, there is no denying how much I have learned from them about being the best advisor possible. My students continue to inspire me each day, I am thankful to have the opportunity to give back to these students and my alma mater.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
Sustainable Development Research in Ecuador: Fellow faculty members and I have coordinated the renewal of one of our undergraduate research programs available in Ecuador. The research project has now been fully funded for five years and we are looking forward to providing this opportunity to our students. During the Spring semesters, I will be helping our students prepare and organize their research project objectives while practicing their Spanish-speaking skills for their in-field interviews.

  • Tutoring Sessions: One of the tasks I spearheaded with our department and the College of Agriculture was available tutoring sessions for introductory classes such as AAEC 1005, MATH 1014, and MATH 1025. I worked with our College’s Associate Dean, representatives from the Student Success Center, and our faculty to provide free tutoring services for these introductory classes that freshmen and incoming transfer students typically find difficult. I helped coordinate days, times, rooms, and available tutors for these specific sessions. I continue to advertise these available sessions to all CALS students throughout the year through multiple email listservs and our college-wide FYE class.
  • Online Advising Portal: One of the main issues I faced when starting my advising role was the overwhelming number of emails from students requesting advising appointments. I was unable to get through all of these emails in a timely manner, and I needed to make a change in order successfully advise all of my students. As a result, I worked with Lauren Thomas in the University Academic Advising Center to implement the EAB program for my students. In each of my emails, I provide a link to the portal in my email signature to assist students with scheduling an appointment online. This small change has made an enormous impact on lessening the amount of emails and increasing students’ accessibility to me. I highly encourage any advisor to implement this program.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Learn and Listen: the two most fundamental aspects of being an advisor in my opinion.

With learn, we must continue to develop ourselves as professional advisors. The college world is constantly changing and we must keep up in order to successfully advise and support our students. We must also learn from our students. Students are always willing to give feedback and advice when asked. We must learn to ask our students – what do you think? Students’ input is imperative, especially when you want to make a change or difference.

Lastly, we must listen. Listen to the others around you. I am a team-orientated individual and some of the best advice I have received has been from fellow advisors. Use the advisors around you! I have never had an advisor not willing to help me at Virginia Tech, and this has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. Also, listen to your students. They want to heard and not be a “number” here at Virginia Tech. It’s amazing how much you can learn from your students, and if you give them the opportunity to speak and be heard, the rewards are endless.