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Advisor of the month: June 2019

Kevin Wogenrich, May 2019, Advisor of the Month, Advising Matters at Virginia Tech.

Amanda Villar

Department of Religion and Culture, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
I love working with the students! They are the reason I come to work and I always look forward to it. Our students are emerging adults who don’t know what they don’t know and have a lot to learn about navigating life itself. And I see myself as not so much a person to tell them what to do, but rather inform them of the resources available so they can make the best possible decision for themselves. I see their college experience as their education, where not all of the learning is happening inside the classroom. I’m honored to help facilitate their learning process.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I am always looking for ways to help students destress and find ways to alleviate the anxiety around being a student. In an effort to achieve that, most recently, I implemented RLCL Animal Hour. Each month we’ll host a different animal who will be on hand for students to visit with for an hour. The calming effects animals can have is quite helpful for some people and I want to do what I can to bring that animal connection to the students who would benefit from it.

I advise for Religion and Culture (RLCL), and often it is difficult for students to see the possibilities one has by adding RLCL as a major. The majority of our RLCL students didn’t realize how much they can benefit from RLCL until we talk and they take some of our classes. Most students have an interest in some aspect of the major, they just don’t know it yet. So when I see a student who could benefit from the major, I find a great deal of satisfaction seeing them get excited about a new possibility they didn’t know existed. The students that are attracted to RLCL are amazing people and the more I interact with them the better I feel about our future as a society.

Additionally, I obtained my Diversity Ally and Advocate certificates and I attend SafeZone workshops as they are offered. My goal in doing this is to create a space in which all student populations feel comfortable meeting with me. It also enables me to be a better informed advocate for them in return.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Listen. Pay attention to what they say and what they don’t say. Advisors have a valuable opportunity to get to know students on a level where they are comfortable confiding in us. So be knowledgeable of the services available to help them such as, Cook Counseling, the Dean of Students Office, NRV Community Services, and 209 Manna Ministries are just a few. Knowledge of what’s available to help them is invaluable, and absolutely necessary in times of crisis.

Also, know your audience and be prepared to meet them on their level and not expect them to meet you at your level. The current generation of students are less independent than their Millennial predecessors and they are maturing slower than we did at their age. While their actions can sometimes be viewed as frustrating or ignorant, they are actually just learning how to learn. And by reaching them on a level they are familiar with, we can best do our job. One example is email, they aren’t going to read long emails as their attention spans are short. Knowing this, don’t be frustrated with them when they don’t respond. Instead, use a more concise and creative way to deliver the information. I have had great success with memes, social media, and scheduling emails to send at 10pm when they are more likely to read it, rather than 1pm when I actually typed it. In return, I find this generation to be highly responsive and insightful. It’s just a matter of knowing your audience.