This year UNC Greensboro saw the establishment of a new set of awards: the Advising Excellence Awards, which were presented by Provost Dana Dunn in a ceremony on Reading Day. Elena Medeiros was honored for advising excellence in the category of professional advisors and Kathryn Aldridge in the category of faculty advisors.
“In the past, advisors were unsung heroes,” said Dunn at the ceremony. “Their critical role in promoting student success has not always been fully recognized. That is no longer the case at UNCG.”
Dunn shared how during the nomination process, more than 100 student and colleague nominations identified more than 60 advisors for recognition, in enthusiastic terms.
“Our student nominators reinforced that good advisors help students make connections between their own goals, the academic programs that are available to them, and to the faculty and staff that are here to support them,” Dunn said.
Also recognized were the finalists in the two categories: Amanda Everhart, Adam Landreth, Caitlin Saraphis, Nic Sprinkle, Sarah Dunning, Ashleigh Gallagher, Tracey Howell and Brook Kreitinger.
Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Bryan Terry offered his congratulations and closing remarks for the ceremony.
Read more about Advising Excellence Award honorees Medeiros and Aldridge and their thoughts on advising below:
Elena Medeiros is coordinator of academic outreach in the Students First Office, where she may work with upwards of 150 students each semester. She has been an advisor at UNCG for four years, with a focus on Exploratory students – those who have not yet selected a major. For those students, she plays an essential role in helping them find direction in college.
“Advising helps students to understand their new environment and how they fit within that context – I think it’s crucial to helping them approach their education with intention.
I’m the starting point where the seed gets planted. To stick with that metaphor, so much of my work is helping students do the messy work of digging around in the soil, figuring out what roots need to be adjusted, and planting the seed that will one day bloom. Often that seed takes root with the student outside the context of our meetings but occasionally, I get to be present when a student has their ‘a-ha’ moment in the room, when it clicks for them – it’s powerful to witness and it’s a gift to experience.
Many of my students make a point to check in with me prior to making significant academic decisions and they tell me it’s helpful to have validation in their choices. Sometimes, students just need to hear from a knowledgeable ‘other’ that they are on the right track, to feel confident in their own decision making.”
Kathryn Aldridge is assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and coordinator of the Birth through Kindergarten Undergraduate Online Program. She has been an advisor for six years in her current department, and previously she was an advisor for the School of Education for five years, advising students earning a dual teaching license and degree in birth through kindergarten and professions in deafness.
“Through advising, students gain a clear path to graduation, someone who knows course sequence, which courses go together and a sense that there’s somebody invested in them and pulling for them. Getting the right courses and getting to graduation is ultimately the responsibility of the students, because they’re adults, but I think that it’s a path best traveled with someone else who may know the nuances of course-planning and some things that you don’t know. So, I like that. And I think students benefit from that aspect of someone guiding them and making suggestions that they can take, or not, about what courses go together and how many hours to take – I think that supports success.
You have to meld the roles of coach and advisor, and the proportions are different for different students. Creating a balance gives the best student success.
Graduation is one of the most exciting parts. Advisors go through so many things with students – seeing them check things off on their long-range plan of study – and then it all pays off in the end, and it’s so exciting.”
Advising Excellence Award finalists
By Susan Kirby-Smith
Photography by Martin W. Kane