Advisor of the month: September 2020
Biochemistry, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
Without a doubt, interacting with students is the most enjoyable part of my role. Whether in a classroom setting or an individual advising session, students consistently energize me and inspire me to give my best. I'm fortunate to work on a daily basis with young adults who are highly motivated, curious, resilient, and open to possibilities. Since every student brings a unique set of circumstances, each day brings new successes and challenges. It is unbelievably rewarding to work with students through all of these situations.
I appreciate the importance that Virginia Tech places on undergraduate advising. When I was an undergraduate, full-time dedicated departmental advising was uncommon. As I began working with undergraduates prior to accepting my current position, I realized firsthand the role of advisors in student success. I am certain that having access to this level of mentorship would have made a difference in my trajectory, and I strive to be the type of resource I wish my 18-year-old self had.
Finally, I am continually impressed by the dedication of VT's faculty and staff to supporting our students. After working in a research laboratory for the first part of my career, I transitioned to advising, and with this shift came the opportunity to view our faculty and staff in a different light. I now see firsthand the time and energy that are poured into our students on a daily basis. Most give freely because they had mentors who once invested in them. This is Ut Prosim in action!
In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I am regularly involved with our first and second year students in the classroom. I attend the Biochemistry First Year Experience course and teach BCHM 4074 (Career Orientation), geared to our sophomores. Being available in a classroom setting is beneficial for multiple reasons - it helps me connect with our students regularly even if they don't often schedule advising appointments, it gives students an opportunity to ask quick advising-related questions outside of the office, and it helps students feel more comfortable in approaching me with larger issues.
I co-advise both the Biochemistry Peer Mentoring program and the Biochemistry Club. Our Peer Mentors play an instrumental role in promoting student success within our department, especially as first year and transfer students acclimate to the campus community. The Biochemistry Club invites speakers to share their career journeys with our undergraduates, leads science outreach activities at a local elementary school, and participates in local community service projects. Both of these groups provide peer-to-peer tutoring in Chemistry, Biology, and Biochemistry. It is a pleasure to work alongside these students as they serve their peers.
I am a member of the Biochemistry department's Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence committee. Through this project, I work with other faculty in our department as we seek tangible ways to build community, increase inclusivity in our curriculum and pedagogy, and practice self-reflection.
What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
- Be available! Take advantage of opportunities to be involved with students outside the office, whether that's attending departmental and college-wide events, sitting in on classes, or the like. Have an open-door policy, and be flexible to accommodate those who might not have a scheduled appointment but could benefit from a few minutes of your time.
- Be a good listener. Give students your focused attention, and listen without judgment. Extend professionalism and respect to each student. Be your authentic self, including being ready to admit your own struggles and mistakes.
- Be a lifelong learner. Seek opportunities for professional development and growth. Network with others in similar positions across campus and outside the university, as these are the individuals who are often the best sources of knowledge, support and encouragement.