Advisor of the month: May 2018
María del Carmen Caña Jiménez
Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
I thoroughly enjoy meeting with my students and discussing their academic career, and personal interests. I maintain an open door policy and I believe that advising is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my job at Virginia Tech as it allows me to truly get to know and guide my students as they become productive adults in society. I furthermore enjoy following up with my advisees once they leave VT, as it gives me an opportunity to see how far they have gone. In advising, I enjoy tailoring my students' interests, strengths, and weaknesses to the academic and extra-curricular offerings at VT. Some of the most fulfilling advising has come from opening a new door for a student who thought they had their career figured out. By challenging them to think outside the box, I am able to see them make great strides as students, scholars, and people.
In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
I have developed advising brochures regarding careers in my area, and have attended many recruiting events wherein I have had the opportunity to advise potential and incoming students on the academic opportunities available to them in FLL. I am particularly proud of the work on the brochure, as it helps current and prospective students envision their next steps after graduating from VT. In December 2015, I organized and co-hosted a recruitment event for Hispanic high school students from Harrisonburg County Schools, where I provided them with important academic and career information. Again, I strongly believe that effective advising takes into consideration what our students hope to achieve in the short and long term. I also serve as a faculty advisor for a RSO, Olé at VT, a flamenco dance group that was borne from dance classes I taught both informally and as a special study. I have furthermore served as an advisor for an Honors Seminar in Hillcrest Hall. I am also a Faculty principal of the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston. In addition to my official advising duties, I constantly serve as an informal advisor to Hispanic/Latino students. Together with the Hispanic/Latino Caucus I established biweekly mentoring lunches at El Centro as an effort to develop mentoring networks among Hispanic/Latino students, faculty and staff.
What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Get to know your advisees and their interests. By getting to know our students in their many facets, we can help them make the most productive decisions here at VT. Academic advising should be seen as more than simply completing a checksheet—it is how we can ensure our students get the most out of their education and experience at VT. It is a rewarding experience for students and ourselves as advising professionals, as we share in their many successes and accomplishments in Blacksburg and beyond.