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Advisor of the month: March 2023

Emily Vedder

School of Neuroscience

What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
I enjoy hearing about students’ aspirations, and where they are at in their college journey towards achieving those goals. I love giving advice and recommendations on things I wish someone had told me during college that may inform students’ decision making and benefit their future. Another favorite part about advising is when students get excited about a certain milestone and they want to share their excitement with me, whether that be getting accepted to graduate school, finding an internship or research lab, or getting a good grade in a difficult class!

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I serve as the first ever Assistant Director of Academic Advising in the School of Neuroscience. I am very grateful and humbled that I am able to help shape the future of advising and best practices within the school. A few contributions to the department include:

  • Organizing an assigned advising model for students to develop rapport with their advisor. The goal is to maintain consistency and have as much personal connection as possible at such a large institution.
  • Reviewing research for credit guidelines in conjunction with the advising team and the School of Neuroscience Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee to ensure that research opportunities are equitable and accessible for students of all backgrounds.
  • Revamping the School of Neuroscience Post-Advising appointment survey to provide more accurate data regarding quality of advising experience, resources provided, and overall student well-being.
  • Creating a new School of Neuroscience Advisor Training guide for incoming College of Science embedded advisors.
  • Streamlining advising communication to not overflow student inboxes through creating a Canvas course for sharing non-essential information. This Canvas course also serves as an archive for information to look back on when preparing for future opportunities and events.
  • Serving on the School of Neuroscience Curriculum Committee and the College of Science Board of Advisors.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
I believe active listening, empathy, and patience are huge. At such a large institution like Virginia Tech, some students may feel that they are just a number and that no one really knows who they are as a person, or cares about their success. The most important interaction you could ever have with a student may not be about business or your job, but rather something that made them feel significant or special. In the words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”