Virginia Tech®home

Advisor of the month: March 2022

Melissa Cumbia

College of Natural Resources and Environment


What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
It is incredibly rewarding to assist students as they explore their options to make important personal, academic, and professional decisions. I like helping students incorporate their unique interests, strengths, and goals into their college experience and post-college plans.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
Foremost, I have worked to develop advising relationships with the students in my department. Being in regular contact with my students is what best enables me to advise, advocate for students, and develop systems and resources.

I have collaborated with colleagues on several advising projects, including an advising Canvas site, a group advising model, an advising syllabus, and strategic messaging. I have contributed toward prospective student advising by assisting at recruitment events and holding exploratory advising appointments. Additionally, I have supported my department’s undergraduate affairs committee on curriculum revisions and planning. Over the past year I also worked with a colleague on two conference presentations and an article related to advising workload challenges to contribute toward the field of academic advising.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Availability, compassion, honesty, and positive regard are essential for effective advising. Respectfully listen when students need to reflect, answer questions as students navigate options, help students identify and leverage strengths, encourage students to envision solutions, and assist students in identifying opportunities for growth.

To sustain your professional well-being, develop a professional community so that you have colleagues available for encouragement, consultation, and collaboration.