NACADA, The Global Community for Academic Advising, has recognized three academic advisors and the IU 21st Century Scholars advising program (IU21CS) for their remarkable work during the 2020-2021 school year. Established in 1983, the NACADA Global Awards Program for Academic Advising honors individuals and institutions making a significant impact on academic advising.
Elizabeth Guertin, Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Executive Director of Advising for University Division, is grateful that the hard work of her colleagues has been once again recognized at an international level. Guertin said, “it really speaks to the quality of advising that we make available to students and the importance of that to students' success and achievements. It speaks to the value that IU has placed on quality advising. They have made a commitment to advising and that allows us to hire very good people and to retain very good people in advising positions.” This is the fourth consecutive year that IU advisors and advising administrators have received NACADA awards.
Guertin, who was the recipient of the 2020 Virginia N. Gordon Award by NACADA, has spent her tenure at IU promoting a student-centered advising model. She notes that “being recognized internationally raises the profile of the unit and the value of advising to students and undergraduate education. IU and University Division are really premiere advising programs that are recognized for the quality of support, advising, and planning we offer students.”
IU21CS provides financial and academic services to support, retain, and graduate thousands of IU students. IU’s program is ranked No. 1 in Indiana for the most students receiving the full-tuition 21st Century Scholarship. The program’s director, Vincent Isom, said, “Last year, we had the highest 4-year graduation rate among 21st Century Scholars Programs. This year we receive this honor. We continue to assess and create new ways to improve services for our scholars.”
By providing advisor training such as NSO preparation sessions, outreach to scholarship programs, and one-on-one consultations IU21CS has been able to fully engage their scholars with the opportunities offered at IU.
“While our team is still small compared to the number of students served as the largest need-based scholarship program at IU, this honor validates the vision for this program and the expertise of our team,” said Isom, “to be recognized by NACADA means that our efforts to serve our students through the use of assessment, best practices, and professional experience have paid off.”
Adrienne Sewell, Director of Advising Retention, works in University Division at IU and has been awarded this year’s Outstanding Advising Administrator. Sewell has presented at several conferences about cross-campus retention efforts and is known for speaking up for the needs of students and advisors when possible.
“It has been a very difficult year, and like many others I feel that I...have doubted my ability at work,” said Sewell, “winning this award made me realize that how I feel about my capacity is a result of the pandemic, not my ‘normal’ state.”
Sewell says that her biggest challenge during online school was supporting the advisors as they moved to virtual advising. “There were so many procedures and policy changes that had to be implemented and explained to staff and students,” said Sewell, “what has been critical is teamwork.”
She notes that every advisor's home situation is different which presents the possibility for chaos but instead she and her colleagues met the challenges with creativity, flexibility, and student support. “I put a lot of effort into helping students on the path to making changes and I believe that I am helping these students find a new path or a new route to success,” said Sewell.
One of IU’s newer advisors, Patrick McKamy, received the 2021 Outstanding New Advisor award. McKamy works as an IU advisor in the School of Education and greatly values the opportunity to enrich IU students’ collegiate experience. Before beginning his role as an academic advisor, McKamy was involved in student activities, leadership efforts, and adventure education. He transitioned to an advisor thanks to the help of the Bloomington Area Advising Council (BAAC) where he took advantage of the professional development opportunities available.
“Without a doubt, working with students every day is the best part of the role,” said McKamy, “continuing to make those connections and contributing to a student’s success is what makes these positions so rewarding.” He was nominated for the NACADA awards by BAAC for his exceptional leadership and student support capabilities. “I was honored to be a recipient of this award...it is more of an encouragement to contribute more to advising and further assist my advisees with their own academic journey,” McKamy said.
Despite the challenges faced in the last school year, Guertin commends the hard work and flexibility it took for staff and students to work together to succeed. She hopes that students will recognize the enormous value that advising can contribute to what can be achieved as an undergraduate at IU. She encourages students to engage with advising on a regular basis to, “really see the opportunities that they have early on so that they can strategically plan all of the elements that they would like to incorporate into their four year degree.”
Not only did IU advisors aim to be available for IU students throughout the pandemic, but they also learned from the trials and triumphs of 2020. “I think we have learned that a combination of in-person and online meetings is probably something that advising will offer going forward,” said Guertin, “we learned a lot about how technology can provide another avenue to allow advisors to interact with students in a timely manner.”