By Beverly Makhani, Office of Undergraduate Education
PULLMAN, Wash. – Five faculty and staff advisors have received top awards from the Washington State University Academic Advising Association (ACADA).
Together, they have more than a half-century of advising experience and advise more than 1,000 undergraduates each year. The percentage of their jobs devoted to advising ranges from 5 to 100 percent. Two are at WSU Vancouver and three in Pullman. Four are WSU alumni.
The awardees “see the opportunity to support students as an honor, both in assisting students toward their career and life goals and in their commitment towards student success and retention,” said Yung-Hwa Anna Chow, awards chair.
“Many advisors and advising administrators have gone on to receive regional and national awards,” said Valorie Fisher, WSU ACADA president. “Following tradition, we will nominate this year’s awardees for those.”
The Outstanding Achievement in Academic Advising awards in the “advising category,” for those with more than three years of experience, go to Teresa Phimister in the “primary role” group, Justine Nicoll Rupp in the administrator group and Mary Sanchez-Lanier in the faculty group.
Awards in the “new advisor category,” for those with three or fewer years of advising experience, go to Leah Rosenkranz-Wurst in the “primary role” group and Aaron Whelchel in the “new faculty” group.
“As an advisor, I partner with students and together we explore their goals, choice of major and courses,” she said. “We are successful when a student’s college experiences have changed how the student sees himself/herself in the world and the world is a better place because of it.”
“As both an instructor and advisor, I encourage students to be proactive,” he said. “They have a variety of resources to assist them in reaching their goals, but only they can determine what those goals are and only they have the motivation to work, sometimes through significant adversity, to achieve them.”
Phimister earned her bachelor’s degree at WSU Vancouver, returned to campus in 1997 as an academic coordinator and is a full-time advisor and academic coordinator for the College of Arts and Sciences.
Writes one supporter, “Teresa’s success as an advisor comes from her ability to lead with an awareness of what needs to be done coupled with a sense that students are complex people who are being asked to fulfill requirements. She has an empathetic approach that balances the student’s accountability and her deep understanding of the university system.”
Rosenkranz-Wurst, student services counselor, has completed her first year of advising about 600 undergraduates in the College of Engineering and Architecture. She earned her bachelor’s degree at WSU and returned as an employee in 2013.
“Advising should be a learning experience for all students, to help them start to develop their own competency, purpose and integrity,” she said. “I strive to make underrepresented students feel like they are supported and have just as many opportunities as other students.”
Rupp earned her master’s degree at WSU and became an employee in the School of Biological Sciences in 2002, where she is an academic coordinator senior. About half of her job is devoted to “on-the-spot” advising.
“It is important for students to take ownership of their education from the beginning,” she said. “I also enjoy working with students who are struggling. It is nice to help them figure out a set of goals — short- or long-term — and guide them to visualize and navigate the steps to attain those goals.”
WSU ACADA is an allied member of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) which is headquartered in Kansas. WSU ACADA is part of NACADA’s northwest Region 8.