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Advisor of the month: January 2021

Courtney Thomas, January 2021, Advisor of the Month, Advising Matters at Virginia Tech.

Courtney Thomas

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

What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
Nothing beats the relationships you form with students during your advising sessions. As a professor, I teach students for a semester or two, but as an advisor, I'm with students for years. I get to see them grow and change. I see their challenges and their triumphs. They share struggles and they celebrate successes. Even after they graduate, students often keep in touch, sharing updates about their careers, families, and adventures. Marriages, babies, promotions, travels, graduate degrees, new career paths--I love that the relationships we form don't end when I shake their hands at graduation.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
In addition to developing advising worksheets and resources, I've worked to develop virtual advising systems that support students during their time away from campus. Whether they are participating in Hokies on the Hill, studying abroad, or spending the semester at home, I want them to continue to benefit from advising. My "open door" policy in the office has now extended to my zoom room where I meet with students remotely to provide support and reassurance in a safe, judgement-free advising space.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
You have to connect with advisees as people first and students second. Most are grappling with situations that you can't even imagine until they feel safe enough with you to bring you into their confidence. Give them dignity and respect and patience and understanding. In return, they will give you the best of who they are.