Advisor of the month: June 2018
Civil Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering
What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
I really enjoy helping students make their way through the Civil Engineering program. It is a very challenging curriculum, and I like to do whatever I can to help make their journey successful. I always tell them that they have to do all the hard work, but I am here to help wherever and whenever I can.
VT CEE students are so bright and focused; they constantly impress me! They work really hard, and I hate to see them bogged down by the minutiae. I am here to listen when they need someone to listen to them; make them aware of and explain alternatives when they need to know their options; take care of stressful little details that they shouldn’t really have to deal with; provide them with the resources they need to keep moving forward; and encourage or ‘nudge’ them a bit when they need it. Working with them is very rewarding so I look forward to coming to my office every day. What could be better than that?!
In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I have been in my position for over 16 years and have seen a lot of changes at the university, in the CEE department, and in advising over the years. I also handle most of the scheduling duties for the department, submit most of the DARS corrections and substitutions, submit forms for scholarships, handle force/add requests and more. Having all of these other tasks actually helps with my advising because I stay informed on many fronts. What we used to do on paper we now do electronically. Therefore, I am constantly learning and adjusting how I do things. But that’s part of what makes this job fun, interesting, and challenging!
What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Be kind. Be helpful. Be respectful. Listen. I have had 3 kids of my own go through college. I always think I should treat my students the way I would have wanted advisors to treat my own kids as they went through school. Be open-minded. We deal with students from the LGBTQ community. And there are a lot of international students in CEE who come from very different cultural backgrounds. Keep that in mind when interacting with them. Get to know your students. Once you start talking to them, you find out what is going on in their lives outside of classes. Many of them have a LOT on their plates, and you can better help them if you understand the whole person. All the studies I’ve seen emphasize that advisors have a major impact on a student’s college career. Do you want that impact to be a positive one or a negative one?