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Advisor of the month: April 2020

Jennifer Hanratty, April 2020, Advisor of the Month, Advising Matters at Virginia Tech.

Jennifer Hanratty

Department of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences


What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
As a Hokie Alum, I love welcoming new students to Virginia Tech and helping them navigate and grow through their experiences as a college student. I enjoy working with students and seeing them through their academic, emotional, and personal needs. Most importantly, I enjoy getting to know students and letting them know that they matter. Working with students provides new and interesting challenges each day, but always keeps you on your toes. Advising gives you the opportunity to learn about students hopes, dreams, and goals. If you are lucky, you can get watch and support students through their successes and be there to help them through their failures. 

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I contribute to the overall advising in our department by being a caring and encouraging advisor. I enjoy trying to connect students to our department and building a relationship such that they feel comfortable meeting with all the advisors in our department. I work hard to start building these student connections as early as recruitment events and follow through as I work with our first year experience students. These relationships with students help me to better inform the actions in our department regarding curriculum, scheduling, and other departmental actions. 

Advising is an opportunity to continue learning and developing to benefit students I strive to constantly find ways that we can better serve our students. As I prepare for each advising “event” throughout the year, I take time to review the previous event and find ways in which we can improve. Helping students might mean creating resources and handouts or promoting new advising resources and technology for our students.  

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Advising is challenging, but watching students cross the stage at graduation is the ultimate reward! 

Listen to students! You can learn so much by taking a few minutes to learn about their life outside your department. Sometimes that information is the key to helping the student. Remember that everyone has a story and is facing their own challenges that you may not know about. 

Let students know they are important. Let them know that they matter. Being a student is hard, but it is harder if you do not have anyone that supports you. YOU might be the person that makes all the difference in the student’s life and actions. 

Network with other advisors! Advisors are amazing! Many advisors have worked through situations and challenges that you are facing. They have great ideas that might help you. They might also be able to help you with the most basic questions or point you in the right direction when you are stuck.