I have been a student academic advisor since 1996. My role is to provide advice, guidance, and support to students through their degree. The rules that pervade the undergraduate program are sometimes difficult to maneuver through. It is one thing to treat all students fairly in accordance with the rules, but you need to recognize when life is unfair to a student. There are times when it is appropriate to bend them or appeal to those who can on behalf of the student. UBC is a big complicated place. Being aware of the roles of other units on-campus is really important, but equally important is preventing students from getting shuffled around. I really try to help the student maneuver efficiently through the system often by serving as an intermediary.
I treat students respectfully and regard each inquiry as if I had never heard it before. Sometimes what I have to tell a student is unpleasant, but I try to do it with compassion and provide some guidance as to how to deal with the situation and move forward. Many challenges face our students. Some are self-imposed while others are out of their control. Early adulthood can be difficult for a number of reasons. I try to be aware of and perceptive to diversity and signs of students at risk; they can be difficult to detect. The Positive Space, QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) Suicide Prevention, and Respectful Environment workshops have been helpful not only to make me more aware of areas of sensitivity, but also provide me with insight in dealing with the various scenarios that arise. I am not a counselor, but I know where to take students to see one.
To facilitate advising I have held information sessions and developed program worksheets for General Science, Combined Major in Science (one example), and the new Biology program. I also notify students by email about program updates (not too often as I know they are bombarded with emails). Information sessions either as evening events (Examples: Agenda for GS Info Session, my presentation of an info session for GS, CMS Info Session Presentation). Imagine UBC also provides information about programs and other opportunities as well as builds community. For Imagine we have an info session followed by a BBQ and live music – Organizing Doc. This year we had a separate advising session for second years – Prezi. In Biology 209 we have an Opportunities in Biology Session which includes study tips. Currently, as the Associate Head of Biology, I am the primary advisor for the new program and honours in Biology. My office is now adjacent to the Biology Undergraduate Office so I can meet with students more regularly and be in direct contact with the operations of the Biology Office.
One of my objectives as the Associate Head of Biology is to support BIOSOC (The UBC Undergraduate Biological Sciences Society). My first step is to improve their office space. We have applied for funding for renovation (will match funds) and will provide support to upgrade their computers and other facilities.
Student Advising-related Activities:
- Biology Program Advisor – New Program: Second Year, Honours: May, 2011 – present
- Biology Program Advisor – General Biology: Sept., 2000 – 2009
- Biology Program Advisor – Plant Biology: Sept., 2000 – present
- Service Excellence Conference: Oct. 2011
- Finding Your Path: Follow the Yellow Brick Road – Aboriginal Student Lunch Presentation: Oct. 2011
- Imagine Info Session and BBQ: 2009, 2010, 2011
- Imagine Mentor: Sept. 1999 – 2009
- Teaching and Undergraduate Affairs Committee: Sept., 2000 – present
- Imagine Professor (Sept, 2001 – 2009)
- UBC Trimentoring Program (2003 – 2010)
- Service Conference
- BioSoc activities