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Advisor of the month: September 2021

Matthew Cheatham

Engineering Education

What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
First and foremost, it is the interactions I get to have with all of my students. Over five years ago, I chose to pursue a Master's degree in Higher Education specifically because I wanted to be able to give back to the students at Virginia Tech and be able to learn from the interactions I would be able to have with my students. With every meeting and interaction with a student, I am able to learn from their experiences, which I am able to apply to my advising. I have truly been able to go to work each day and enjoy the work I am doing.

I also really enjoy working with my advising team. Since day one, they have created an environment where I have felt comfortable sharing my thoughts and opinions even as the newest member on the team. It has been a very supportive team that also challenges me to be better every day. My advising team has pushed me and I would not be where I am today without everyone in Engineering Education.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
As a former General Engineering student, I was able to provide my department with information on what it was like to be in the department from a student perspective. As a former engineering student at Virginia Tech, I took many of the courses our students are required to take in order to declare their engineering major. So, I am able to provide personal experience in my advising to help students understand the difficulty of the some of the courses and what they can do to best succeed.

In addition to advising students during my first year in the Engineering Education department, I have been able to assist with ensuring that our website was updated, preparing workshops for first-year engineering students, and updating 5-year plans for our students in the Corps of Cadets. I have also had the opportunity to help the department in preparing our transition to fully virtual advising for orientation and the fall semester by working with the team to create videos walking students through the virtual orientation process.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
My biggest piece of advise, would be to just be yourself, listen to student's concerns, and be genuine when interacting with students. Many times an advisor can be the person where students turn to for everything because they know they will be treated as a person and not just another student at Virginia Tech. With the size of Virginia Tech, it can be hard at time for students as they can feel overwhelmed or are not able to connect with other faculty or staff. We, as advisors, have a responsibility to help make the students feel comfortable and at home during their time at Virginia Tech. By being yourself and by being genuine when working with the student, it can go a long way in making them feel at home.