Krystal Thompson, Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient
Calley Stevens Taylor, Region 2 Mentor

Krystal Thompson.jpbKrystal shares:  NACADA Summer Institute Reflections

From July 28 through August 2, 2013, I attended NACADA’s 2013 Summer Institute (SI) in Scottsdale, Arizona. My decision to attend the Summer Institute was based on two primary reasons. First, I wanted to get more involved with NACADA. Second, I recognized that funds regarding departmental professional development focuses were limited within my institution; therefore, upon developing goals with my supervisor, I presented NACADA as the solution. Becoming familiar with NACADA would result in my being able to use the best practices for academic advising on my own campus.

With my supervisor’s blessing, I was able to attend and present at Region 2 drive-in meetings.  When I joined the Region 2 mentorship program, I received Calley Stevens Taylor as my mentor, and she welcomed me with open arms. With great support from my supervisor and my NACADA mentor, I was encouraged to apply for the Summer Institute Scholarship.  I had been recently awarded the travel grant to attend the Region 2 conference in New Brunswick, New Jersey, so I assumed I could not be awarded  a second time; I was wrong. I joyfully read the email confirming that I was the recipient of the SI scholarship, and I could choose to attend the summer Institute in Jacksonville, Florida or Scottsdale, Arizona. 

With my first and second considerations secured (my active involvement in NACADA and the funding to support my active involvement), my next option was to choose between Florida and Arizona. Since I have visited Florida several times and I wanted to try something new, I chose Arizona. Ultimately, I was very pleased with my decision.  During my time in Scottsdale, I was able to attend professional lectures and network with many individuals from around the world who specialize in academic advisement.

I especially enjoyed hearing from SI faculty member Blane Harding, who spoke of the many new dynamics involved with advising diverse students.  Within the small group sessions I attended, I was able to form relationships with advisors from Japan. Through listening to their experiences concerning advisement, I was able to learn a new perspective on how culture effects academic advisement and the nature in which it should be carried out. With NACADA’s push to a global and diverse association, I feel that in small groups as well as in the presentations everyone used personal experiences to provide insight on academic advisement with a global perspective.

While attending NACADA’s Summer Institute, I learned that not only classroom but also hands-on experiences are key to enhancing educational development. Hands-on activities enable individuals to promote and support the quality of academic advising in higher education settings. A forum such as this provides an environment enabling individuals to openly discuss their thoughts and exchange ideas through activities and individual projects.

Although I am currently going through a shift in supervision within my department, I plan to present my SI Action Plan to my new supervisor once she settles into her position. Sharing my reflection of the event with my NACADA mentor was beneficial.  As a result of us exchanging feedback and comparing it to her conference experience, I  learned even more about NACADA’s improvements over the years and the many motivational opportunities that have been established in forums like the Summer Institute. I look forward to attending the next institute to put the finishing touches on my project and meet some more amazing people within the world of academic advisement.

Calley Stevens Taylor.jpgCalley shares:   NACADA Summer Institute -- Lessons in Action

As Krystal’s mentor through the NACADA Region 2 mentoring program, it has been a pleasure to help her prepare for and debrief from her Summer Institute experience. In our field, it’s sometimes hard to take the time we should to reflect on our own experiences, but participating in the Region 2 mentoring program has reminded me of the importance of self-reflection. Talking with Krystal about her experience encouraged me to look back on my Summer Institute experience.

ISI Team.jpgn July 2010, I was offered the opportunity to attend the Summer Institute in Philadelphia as a member of the team from Reading Area Community College. The Summer Institute was something that I had wanted to participate in for some time, and I was so pleased to finally have the opportunity to do so. As a newcomer to RACC (I started as the director of enrollment services just two weeks before), I saw the Summer Institute as a chance to quickly develop bonds with my new colleagues while also establishing for myself and RACC a more expansive perspective on advising. The supportive environment of the Institute and its faculty brought to the forefront some concepts that were new to several of my colleagues, including advising as teaching, and our work during the Institute allowed us to reframe what we thought advising should look like at RACC. Because the Institute was project-oriented and focused on the strategic planning and implementation of change, it lent itself naturally to the situation RACC was in at the time: changes in staffing, decreasing enrollment, desire to break down silos, and the need for organized change.

Looking back over the last three years, I’m impressed by the work that we’ve done. Although not everyone who attended the Institute is still part of our team, RACC has made a number of changes in advising delivery based on the principles and perspectives we committed to at the Summer Institute. Believing that advising begins with a student’s first contact with the College, we’ve opened a Welcome Center to serve as an advising resource for prospective students. Monthly Advising Updates are sent to the whole campus community, supporting the notion that advising, in its broadest sense, can happen between a student and any faculty or staff member at any time, in formal or informal settings. We now require advising for new and readmitted students; all new degree-seeking students must participate in RACC Ready orientation, ensuring that new students receive accurate and relevant information about academic options, policies, and programs as soon as possible. We’ve expanded the advising of current students from only faculty advisors to include staff advisors, providing more advising resources to students and building trust between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. An advising handbook now forms a set of informational modules on our learning management system and provides easy access to advising information, FAQs, documents, and other resources for any faculty or staff member. An Advising Center, which will be staffed by both faculty and staff advisors, will open soon. 

I regularly return to the institute materials when working on advising. These materials were helpful in supporting our proposal to require both orientation and advising for incoming students and in the development of retention strategies for at-risk students. I still connect with SI faculty member Marsha Miller during the #acadv chats on Twitter and value her advice, especially in the development of new materials for advisors.

Sometimes, though, it’s the little things that stick with us. During the Institute, we were shown a cartoon of a turtle on a fence. The notion that the turtle didn’t get on the fence by itself really stuck with me. That night the RACC team had dinner in Chinatown and we each purchased a turtle good luck charm that has hung at my desk ever since. This reminds me not only that students need our support to reach their goals but also that we, as staff or faculty, colleagues near or far, must also support each other to continually grow and develop advising as a pedagogy, a profession, and a field of study. Serving as a mentor for Region 2 is one way I’m participating in the development of our field, and it’s been a pleasure to watch Krystal develop as an advisor and as a colleague.

Krystal Thompson
Academic Counselor
Assessment Center
Hampton University
krystal.thompson@hamptonu.edu

Calley StevensTaylor
Director of Student Success and Retention
Cedar Crest College
Calley.Taylor@cedarcrest.edu

Cite this article using APA style as: Thompson, K. & Stevens Taylor, C. (2014, March). Our NACADA summer institute experiences. Academic Advising Today, 37(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]

Posted in: 2014 March 37:1

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