Advisor of the month: July 2022
School of Visual Arts
What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
I love finding ways to convey important, sometimes complex information in a way that clicks for students. The best part of my job as an advisor is hearing the words, “That makes so much more sense now!” as the worry and confusion gives way to relief and understanding. I love being a cheerleader for students when they are panicked about their studio courses. I love celebrating wins and I love providing encouragement through the tough times. All of these moments are special to me.
In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I lead orientation academic advising for the majors that I serve. With the shift to a virtual world in response to COVID-19, I was fortunate to have the capacity to meet with each student one-on-one. This has been a wonderful opportunity to begin cultivating meaningful relationships with my advisees. Students receive my undivided attention and (hopefully!) get to know me as a warm, friendly, and inviting person that they will feel comfortable reaching out to when things get tough, or will be eager to share their victories when things go well. Some parents sit in on their Hokie’s orientation session too. This is an opportunity to bring in the parents as allies in the student’s success, and hopefully assure them that their Hokie was in good hands. These efforts have led to increased advising satisfaction on student surveys.
I have developed tools and workflows to facilitate student academic planning. When I first meet with students during orientation, I establish a shared electronic folder for each student and begin customizing their academic plans with them. Students refer back to their advising folders for important policy information and helpful resources as they navigate their degree plans. With these tools and strategies, I have seen an increase in students’ awareness and understanding of their degree requirements and a reduction in students missing important courses.
In addition to my role in serving students, I serve the faculty and programs as well. I employ enrollment management strategies to effectively balance the needs of our students who need seats in required in-major courses with opportunities for students outside of our majors to take select classes in our disciplines. I also advocate for timetable changes and curriculum updates that benefit the students we serve and reduce the number of course substitutions that are needed.
I have become a resource for faculty who come to me when they have concerns about a student and are unsure how to help. I have trained faculty on how to use VT EARS to submit concerns about students who are showing signs of distress so that we can connect them with supportive services as early as possible to increase student well-being and success.
At the university level, I am currently serving on the Advising Strategic Plan committee that has been tasked with establishing inclusive best practices for recruiting, hiring, and retaining a diverse community of academic advisors.
What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Have a “lifelong learning” mindset and aspire for continuous improvement. Whether it is fixing a typo in advising materials or learning a new trick in Navigate or carving out time to attend a workshop or conference, every step forward has an impact.
Also, it’s so important for us to learn as much as we can about the needs of the students we serve. Take advantage of the opportunities the Virginia Tech community provides to learn about a wide spectrum of topics. When we increase our own awareness of the dynamics that may be impacting our students’ lives in and out of the classroom, we become more sensitive to the needs of each unique individual, and are better equipped to treat each student with dignity and respect.