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Advisor of the month: November 2021

Kimberly Johnston

The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
I have been an advisor for over two decades but an advisor in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) since 2015. I truly believe advising is about the 4 C's: CARING about students' goals, CONNECTING in a personal and professional way, COACHING through struggles and successes, and supporting my advisees as they COMPLETE their degree and move to the next phase of either graduate school or industry. Each day is different. Working as part of an advising team allows us to each support each other and share knowledge which benefits our students. 

I love the energy that each semester brings to advising as my student come back to campus and share their experiences from an internship, travel, or a summer job which enriches my role with their different perspectives as they move toward their diploma. Each journey is so unique! When I meet with a student, I learn more about who they are and what they can contribute in their courses and in their chosen career.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I work with a wonderful advising team in Electrical and Computer Engineering! I advise around 350 students each semester and support many different seminars and events each semester. I have participated in outreach programs and supported females in engineering, virtual transfer orientation sessions, major fairs, welcome back socials, information sessions and exploring engineering events. Each semester, I enjoy organizing the senior composite submissions for the class portraits and seeing the final product each year before spring graduation ceremonies.  

As the COE's Navigate End-User representative, I bring issues and updates to the monthly COE advisor meetings and help support, assist and train other advisors on the platform. I am very interested in streamlining processes, so, this past month I joined the COE in exploring resources and support for the COE advising community and our students in one easy to find location. I enjoy being a part of several committees dedicated to assessment, scholarships, departmental data, and advising technologies. One of my favorite contributions is to supporting our Harry Lynde Bradley Scholarship students as they move through the Virginia Tech experience from general engineering into our major.  

However, I feel my biggest contribution is to my students by my daily interactions with them. I let them tell me how I can best support their goals and I strive to find the resources that best serves them at that particular moment in time.  

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
I often say that skills can be taught but passion cannot. I strive to make a difference in my students' lives. It is important to listen to your students and watch their non-verbal ques. In a meeting, advisees often say a lot without speaking a word. You can see if what you are saying is connecting - even on Zoom. Each student is different and your approach to each student must as unique. The biggest impact in their lives is created by you taking time to listen, being a positive influence, and expressing genuine concern about their future.