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Advisor of the month: October 2023

Heather Whedbee

College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
I greatly enjoy helping students find their "why". There are so many opportunities for students to get involved on campus, in the community, and within their areas of study. It is my passion to help students develop goals so they can leverage those opportunities into strategic experiences that help them prepare for life after graduation. It's in those experiences that students tend to figure out what they want to do and who they want to be and I'm just happy to be a part in helping them make that connection.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I started advising in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences as one of the first Professional Academic Advisors in our new Advising Center. I developed center-wide programming for student athletes, cadets, and transfer students. In my department, Sociology, I helped rebuild our advising practices to be more inclusive by creating transparent policies and procedures. I updated plan-of-study resources by developing common double major roadmaps, course registration guides, and outreach programming. I currently serve on the Sociology Curriculum Committee where I provide the student's perspective as we work to significantly update our course offerings and make graduation requirements more clear. I petitioned to provide a stand-alone First Year Experience course for our incoming students that focuses on goal building so students can spend their time in college wisely and develop connections with professors and students as soon as they get to campus. I've found a love for teaching through this initiative. Institution wide- I serve as a Clifton's Strengths Consultant where I facilitate workshops across campus for students, faculty, and staff. I'm also a founding member of the Academic Advising Initiatives Strategic Plan Communication Committee- I served as Chair of the committee for three years and helped establish strategic communication outreach projects for the advising community.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
I think it's important to rely on colleagues to cultivate a community of care for our students. When we work together to develop best practices, share what is working in our areas, and provide diverse perspectives, our students get the best of us. It's my goal for every student at VT to receive consistent, best-practice advising. So, my advice to others who want to make a difference in the lives of their students is to talk to, learn from, and teach each other. Some of my most successful interactions with students are practices I learned from those around me. In fact, I keep a frame on my desk called my "Advisor's Creed" which is an accumulation of advice I've gotten from other Advisors through this question!