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Advisor of the month: November 2017

Jessica Elmore, Advisor of the Month for November, Advising Matters at Virginia Tech

Jessica Elmore

Engineering Education, College of Engineering


What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
Collegiate years are a time of momentous change. The transition from high school to college can be exhilarating but also challenging. First-year students must alter to living away from home while navigating a new environment on their own, adjust to the pace and work load of university courses, connect socially with peers, encounter diverse individuals and ideas, manage their finances, and in many cases, discover their true interests.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
During my time as an academic and career advisor in the Department of Engineering Education, I have carried an advising caseload of 375 to 580 first-year engineering students. Additionally, I have contributed in the following ways:

  • Maintained the accuracy of our advising curriculum flowcharts for the 14 degree-granting engineering majors. This includes verifying course requirements, term offerings, pre-requisites, co-requisites, and grade policies.
  • Draft our departmental academic advising emails, which provide timely and accurate academic information to our General Engineering students on a weekly to bi-weekly basis.
  • Serve as the advising representative on our department’s honorifics committee.
  • Assist with the facilitation of all orientation sessions. This includes reviewing student schedules prior to their attendance and providing a list of required schedule adjustments, completing unofficial transfer credit evaluations, giving the orientation presentation, and answering student questions.
  • Assist with the facilitation of our plan of study workshops by providing students with directions on how to create a plan as well as reviewing plans for accuracy.
  • Staff the General Engineering booth at the Majors Fair and answer questions from prospective internal transfer students.
  • Staff the General Engineering booth at the College of Engineering Open House and answer questions from prospective students and their families.
  • Host a Course Request Group Advising Session by leading the presentation, answering questions in the group session, and answering questions one-on-one.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Remember that students have lives outside college. Many have additional responsibilities such as full or part time jobs, caregivers to children or other loved ones, as well as nurturing marriages or long-term committed relationships. They often experience “life” such as illnesses, deaths of loved ones, personal issues, etc. They often need compassion and grace.  Additionally, one of my mantras is the Fish! Philosophy. This is a service philosophy born from the workers of the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Washington. The three practices that resonate the most in my work as an academic and advisor:

  • Be There
    Life is full of distractions but to be there for another person has a very powerful effect. I make an effort to be fully focused and engaged when interacting with a student, ensuring that I am capturing everything they are disclosing to me which allows me to be the most helpful in my response.
  • Make Their Day
    Sometimes we all need a helping hand. Whether it is fitting a student in on a busy day, responding to student emails during Winter Break, or sending a congratulatory email to a student who is no longer on academic probation, I strive to show that I care about their well-being and ability to thrive.
  • Choose Your Attitude
    Internal and external factors influence our attitudes. It is important to remember that no matter what is affecting my world, I am here to help and serve students. Additionally, there is a repetitive rhythm and timing to the questions asked by students. Even if it is my tenth time in one day answering the same question, I choose to remember that it is the student’s first time asking that question of me.