The School of Nursing is committed to ensuring that students achieve their personal, academic and career objectives by helping them develop meaningful academic plans compatible with their educational and life goals. Our team of academic advisors help students to understand and navigate academic requirements, polices and procedures, and find solutions to a variety of everyday challenges.
This week we hear from two undergraduate advisors: Justin Brady and Mickey Gonzales. Mickey has been with the School of Nursing for more than 30 years, and Justin for just over three months.
Justin: Academic advisors work with students to help them clarify their personal and professional goals, connect to meaningful out-of-classroom experiences that support their growth, ensure that they are on the right track towards completion of their degree requirements, and ultimately prepare students to be successful in their chosen profession. My particular role is working with the freshmen pre-nursing students during their first year in college. This summer, we’ve seen more than 80 incoming freshmen and have a few more coming to the late summer orientation in August. I will meet one-on-one with each student twice during the fall and once during the spring semester. Freshmen are welcome to come by for other meetings beyond these required appointments.
Mickey: Advising has changed a lot since I began working here. In the old days, we simply helped students register for classes. Today we help them develop into responsible adults. Nursing, too, has changed over the years. There was a time when a BSN almost guaranteed you a job right after graduation. That’s not always the case today. That’s why, in addition to assisting students with registration, we now offer career services. For example, to help them become more marketable, we recently conducted mock interviews on a trial basis, during which we have students “interview” for a job. Afterwards, we discuss how they presented themselves and how they might make improvements. We received favorable feedback and so we plan to extend these interviews to more students this year.
Another popular offering we provide is Study Abroad opportunities. We’re working on sending a group with Dr. Alexandra Garcia to Heredia, Costa Rica, next summer. In addition, we find externship opportunities in the United States. Some of our students have worked alongside health-care legends at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, and the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These are invaluable opportunities, and I’d love to see more of our students take advantage of them.
Justin: Advising is a two-way relationship, with the responsibility of establishing that relationship falling on both the advisor and the student. My job isn’t simply to tell students which classes to take; rather, it is to help them understand what it takes to be successful and support them along the way. When I speak with parents and family members, I tell them that the advising process is one of many learning experiences for a college student. We teach students to be independent thinkers and to take responsibility for their actions. We expect them to schedule and keep advising appointments, to come prepared with ideas for their future and necessary information that will impact their course decisions, to ask questions and seek clarification when necessary, and to communicate effectively with us and with others.
Beyond advising appointments, my role as advisor for freshmen pre-nursing students includes coordinating events and programs, such as Gone to Nursing, the Pre-Nursing Welcome Night, the Nursing Peer Mentor Program, Nursing First-year Interest Groups (FIGs), and our roles in freshmen orientation and Family Weekend. Additionally, I support our admissions efforts and provide information to prospective students and their families at various events.
Mickey: Initially, the important thing is to build rapport with the students. They have to have confidence in the advising process and in the advisors. We have several tools to help them through the challenges they might be facing; for instance, we have a lot of resources for those who might need academic help, such as how to take tests or how to improve their note-taking skills. It isn’t always about academic problems, and in those cases, all I might need to do is listen as they talk through their problem.
The best part of this job is the students. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. To me, being an advisor is the best job ever.