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Advisor of the month: October 2020

Michelle Czamanske, October 2020, Advisor of the Month, Advising Matters at Virginia Tech.

Michelle Czamanske

College of Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering

What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
I thoroughly enjoy meeting with my students. When a student enters our major, I make a point to have an appointment with them so we have a chance to get to know each other. At these meetings, we talk about everything from what they wanted to be when they were a child and how they eventually came to our major. This gives me the opportunity to learn about the person; with this insight, I am able to provide them with the individual attention they deserve. Having this opportunity to get to know them as an individual makes all the difference in the world to them and our relationship.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
Two of my many roles are to serve on the department's Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and manage the timetable of classes. I was able to work successfully with the committee to rearrange our class structure to benefit the students. Prior to me initiating this change, our classes were only offered during a specific term. With this new structure, our five core classes are offered both fall and spring. We also moved our typical sophomore and senior classes to Tuesday / Thursday, while our junior classes are on Monday / Wednesday / Friday. 

This new course structure has made it possible to limit enrollment of the core classes to 35 students per class; giving both the instructor and students a class size that is beneficial to all. Offering typical grade level courses on specific days of the week has made it easy for students to reach forward or back when possible. Also, this has made it easier for students to participate in a Co-op or study abroad.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
I would recommend that you take an active interest in your student's successes. Just yesterday, I told a class of freshmen that my job is to help them succeed and I am not successful until they are.

Students are often times full of doubt; be it there abilities or about themselves. Imagine a scenario where a student indicates 'I can't do this.' I believe it is our job to encourage them and get them to say, without doubt, 'I can do this.' When they do succeed, celebrate with them. Be it a high five or Star Wars sticker - recognize their accomplishments.