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Advisor of the month: January 2019

Sarah Carl, Advisor of the Month for January. Advising Matters at Virginia Tech

Sarah Carl

School of Neuroscience, College of Science

What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
My favorite part of advising is creating caring and professional relationships with my students. I love to see how they have grown and developed throughout each semester. As an academic advisor, I have found that every student has a different story. This story provides an approachable conversation to discuss their past, present, and future self. By learning about each student’s unique story, I can help them reach their academic goals and follow their dreams.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
My colleague, Annie Laib, and I have created the first ever student ambassador program for the School of Neuroscience. The student ambassador program consists of three roles to create and maintain a positive connections between our department and students. The student ambassadors represent the department by participating in study sessions, recruitment, and peer mentoring. We created this program with the following goals:

  • Help students transition to college well
  • Enhance recruitment initiatives
  • Provide positive role models to new students
  • To empower current students to study for neuroscience courses

Other contributions I have made include planning and implementing the first New Student Welcome event this semester, which allowed for all new (first-year and transfer) students in the School of Neuroscience to meet faculty, staff, neuro-related organizations, and other students. Both of these programs have shaped our advising office by adding another layer of connection to our students.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Each time you meet with a student, just remember that everyone comes from different backgrounds. Making sure you remember to place yourself in your student’s shoes can help your advising. Furthermore, a smile or act of kindness can make a difference in a student’s day. Navigating the university is hard, but by supporting students, we can learn about who they are as people and who they want to be once they graduate.

I would also suggest attending “Advising Afternoon Chat” Series workshops and researching resources that can help your students succeed. Meeting and getting to know representatives from different departments has helped me get acquainted with what Virginia Tech has to offer and suggest campus resources to my students.