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Advisor of the month: June 2024

Kimberly Johnston

The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
The students are the best part of advising. Each day in advising is an adventure. You wake up in the morning believing you know what the day will hold. You look at your calendar of appointments, read over the students’ notes, plan out your sessions, attempt to prioritize the endless administrative tasks and then, in one moment, everything changes.

Why? Because, as an advisor, your day belongs to the student. When they walk in or send you an email, your time is spent investigating the question and supporting that student. Whatever task, issue, struggle, or concern that matters to your student - it matters to you.

I enjoy never knowing what adventure my day will hold. I love helping a student who needs direction or purpose and pointing them toward additional resources. I want to provide support to the students who need a tutor or to figure out how to close the learning gap. I enjoy being there to provide simple curriculum questions that lays the groundwork for them to feel comfortable to come to me with the more complex concerns.

I once heard a NACADA speaker state that our students are like eagles in a nest that are ready to launch and our job is to prepare them to soar. That moment when a student soars is what has kept me in advising for over twenty-three years and enjoying every moment.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
As an advisor, I support around 350 students each semester and provide academic advising and career support. I work closely with the ECE graduate advisors to provide accelerated program information to our undergraduate students. I participate in semester and annual activities in our department, our college and university to outreach to students and/or perspective students.

I am a the ECE Scholarship Committee Chair and maintain the student scholarship process for awarding in our department. A separate scholarship duty is managing the Harry Lynde Bradley Scholarship recipients from the award process until graduation. I am able to be their contact person from the time they begin their Virginia Tech academic career and assist them along their journey to either graduation or becoming a Bradley Scholar in graduate school. Recently, I was asked to serve on a task force on undergraduate scholarships that focuses on access and affordability.

Since coming into the ECE Department, I have been the Advising Member on the ECE Assessment Committee. This committee is a vital part of maintaining reports for to the ABET Accreditation process and our commitment to our educational objectives for students. I also provide data pulls/requests for this committee, for various projects, grants, and to student services to the ECE department faculty and administrators.

I enjoy contributing to advising technology. I serve as the College of Engineering (COE) liaison on the Navigate Advisory Team. My position is to support the COE advisors, address issues or improvement request and relay any upcoming EAB implementations. For the COE, I am also part of the Resources and Support website group that reviews information for updates or suggested changes on a regular basis. The site is so helpful that I always suggest my students bookmark the page it as they will visit it many times.

Lastly, I also organize the senior composite submissions for the class portrait every fall and spring. Seeing the final product before spring commencement is a highlight of my year!

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
I think the most important gifts we can give our students are time and compassion. I think that makes the biggest difference in our lives and the lives of our students. Many students are here at this university who have left their family and are struggling to make new friends and independent decisions. That is a lot of pressure! Their advisor may be the one constant resource that helps them navigate their new daily lives. When I meet with a student, I try my best to focus on that student and listen. A twenty-minute connection with a student can make them feel valued and heard. I have met so many students over my tenure as an advisor and the moments I have spent with them have enriched my life. I can only hope that in some small way that I have done the same for them.