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Advisor of the month: July 2019

Tamela Gallimore, July 2019, Advisor of the Month, Advising Matters at Virginia Tech.

Tamela Gallimore

School of Architecture and Design, College of Architecture and Urban Studies

What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
I enjoy meeting the students and getting to know them as individuals. Each student has unique needs and educational goals, so it is important for me to understand how I can assist them during their academic career. It is rewarding when a student gives me a sincere ‘thank you’ when they graduate. It reinforces why I became an academic advisor and it pushes me to be a better academic advisor for the next cohort.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I have worked as an academic advisor in the School of Architecture + Design for twelve years. In that time, I have played an intricate role in the evolution of academic advising in the school by serving on committees and making positive recommendations for changes. I also oversaw the transition from faculty advising to professional advising in the school and assisted the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies with data gathering and analysis which resulted in the hiring of a new full-time academic advisor in the school. Alongside our new hire, I was able to integrate an SSC Advising Kiosk in the school’s main office which has allowed us for the first time to track and meet with every single student in the school. As a result, we have seen a decrease in freshman using course withdrawals, a decrease in students on academic warning or probation, and we have been able to anticipate and prevent academic issues before they arise. When we noticed a large number of students struggling with their unique (and difficult) architecture math course, I met with and secured the hiring of peer-tutors from the student success center for this class. It marked the first time the student success center was able to offer tutoring for this class.

One of my proudest accomplishments in contributing to academic advising has been through spearheading the school’s academic advising efforts at new student orientation. When the school transitioned to professional advising, I worked to continue to incorporate faculty mentorship at orientation but developed new presentations and began incorporating flipped advising models to reach out to new freshman before and after orientation. This cut down on the time we needed to spend with first year students at orientation, and we continue to receive positive feedback from our ability to engage our students with meaningful conversations regarding advising and safety in the architecture studios before and after they arrive for July orientation.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Academic advising is a ‘labor of love’ so-to-speak, and I believe that we as professional advisors have a passion to help students navigate what can be a complicated network within the university community. We help students to reach their goals by providing institutional knowledge, direction, and support. The advice that I would give to other professional advisors is to be present in the moment when meeting with students, and to let them know that when the journey gets tough that we will be there to help them. We celebrate with them when they have reached their goals, but we also encourage them during times of self-doubt, and discouragement.