Advisor of the month: September 2023
College of Science
What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
I enjoy my role in advising because of the trust and respect I have established with the students I work with each semester. I develop this strong relationship with my students over the years that they are on campus, working closely together to set goals each academic year. One thing I enjoy is the orientation part of advising, especially the one-on-one meetings with students and helping them with their academic plans. I enjoy sharing relevant resources with students to ensure that they are set on the right path to success each semester. I can get students set up and be the first person to get them excited about their first semester and the enthusiasm in their selected courses in the Biological Sciences major. As an advisor in the Department of Biological Sciences, I share events and opportunities for students to get involved, for instance sharing flyers about the department’s Facul-Tea series, which is a unique feature and initiative from our faculty. Even though I do not tutor students, I play a significant role in this regard by referring them to essential resources, including the Student Success Center for tutoring and review sessions and the Writing Center for help with their classes. I am there for these students constantly for them to have the best college experience. I keep track of my 330 advisees using Navigate. The part of advising I enjoy the most is monitoring and putting students on my watchlist and sending weekly reminders about the tasks/goals we discussed in our meetings. The responses I get from my students motivate me to go above and beyond to get them all that they need. I consider each student as a person and not just a number to the department.
In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I have been in this role since January 2020 and I’m passionate about what I do for our students. A unique contribution to Biological Sciences is my passion for helping students from minority backgrounds, as well as non-minoritized groups, to succeed. As the only black advisor in my department, I’m particularly well-suited for this endeavor, which opens the door for other students who look like me. Traveling out of state I wear my “Hokie Gear” to showcase the appeal of Virginia Tech and creating opportunities to recruiting a more diverse array of out-of-state students to our campus. I also assist the department and the advising team in coordinating recruitment activities during Open House, Major Fairs, High School Spring Break, and the Black College Institute (BCI). I encourage students interested in undergraduate research to attend the Facul-Tea series to get first-hand information and knowledge about faculty and the research they do. I also occasionally coordinate with faculty members on special events for our majors, for example taking a group of students to the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in Roanoke to tour several of the research labs. I do not only tell students to go but I’m there to see as well, which enables me to better articulate the work of VTC to all my advisees. I work closely with Biological Science Ambassadors to highlight the many clubs on campus and how they can get involved in leadership roles as students. Additionally, I have taken advantage of various professional development opportunities on campus to get the College of Science and the Department of Biological Sciences the feedback about students that the advisor needs. I have contributed to the COS Board of Advisors to support the growth of the department and the ideas generated to support the students in diverse ways. I have also served on the Advising Handbook Subcommittee for Orientation, Communication Plan, Advisor Resources, and Working with Student Populations Committee. I’m enthusiastic, approachable, easy to talk to and not afraid to dress up in my “mini-Hokie Bird” outfit to face students and parents during campus events. I see myself as the face of the department and the college and I want students to feel VT and Blacksburg are just like home.
What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
The minoritized population needs the connection with professionals to figure out how college works so they can fit into the community and be supported. My advice to other professionals is to be resourceful, patient, and a good listener for our students. We should continue to show empathy, especially for minoritized students who are members of First Generation, Underrepresented, and Underserved populations. Not all students are aware of the many resources on campus, and we must try to share such information. Communication is a big piece of advising and I encourage all professionals to try their best to seek the interest of their students wherever they are on campus.