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Advisor of the month: March 2021

Teresa An Vu Wilson, March 2021, Advisor of the Month, Advising Matters at Virginia Tech.

Teresa An Vu Wilson

College of Engineering, Civil Environmental Engineering

What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
What I enjoy the most about advising is working with the students to share in their journey both academically and personally. My advising practice is focused on facilitating student growth by teaching students how to navigate various situations on their own, asking probing questions to stimulate thinking, and being a safe place for them to share their triumphs and setbacks. It is a proud moment for me when a student has that aha moment or I see their maturity through academic or career successes.

Virginia Tech is an amazing community and that is in large part to the awesome students who call VT home during the year. I am constantly blown away by their kindness, helpfulness, eagerness to learn, adaptability, and resilience. I learn as much (sometimes more) from them as they learn from me. It is truly because of them that my job is fulfilling and enjoyable! 

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I contribute to advising in the CEE Department by maintaining the high-quality advising already established within the department. On a daily basis, I work to create a supportive and caring environment for students to ask questions and learn. I achieve this by being an active learner to stay up to date on policies, technology, and student advocacy topics.  It also includes my involvement in the recruiting process by meeting with prospective students and coordinating the CEE Student Ambassadors outreach events. This work helps to bring about awareness of what civil engineering is and inform a student's decision on a major, which is a key part of advising. 

I also participate in groups and committees including the Virginia Tech Academic Advising Network (VTAAN - Membership/Communication Committee) and the Strategic Advising Team (Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Committee) that work to advance advising practices across the university. I hope to use my experience to help others as well as learn from the amazing advisors in these groups to help inform my practice.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Here are my go-to tips for other advisors: 

  1. Be a good listener - I believe that being a good listener is the best way to help someone. There are often times that the reason a student is in your office is for something more than just prescriptive advice. It is up to us to be an active listener to see the student holistically and validate their questions or concerns.
  2. Ask questions - This goes hand in hand with my first point. I always ask a student how they are doing at some point in the session/appointment. It shows my empathy and can also help to lead a conversation about issues that might be lingering in the background. I also believe that asking questions also helps to lead the student to self-discovery. I remember very clearly a former teacher telling me that the measure of intelligence is not knowing all the answers but rather knowing what questions to ask. So I am sure to ask those probing questions to stimulate the student's critical thinking and they end up answering the question themselves! 
  3. Stay curious and keep learning - It is important to keep our knowledge up to date so we can be effective advisors. I attend training sessions on technology, university policies/procedures, and student advocacy topics to be able to help students. More often than not, I learn something new every time!