Two academic advisors receive awards from peers

February 15, 2011

Mary Beth Lencke and Andrew Oppy. (Purdue University photo/ Mark Simons)

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PACADA, the Purdue Academic Advising Association, last week presented awards to two members who bring tremendous excitement and dedication to their work with students.

Outstanding Academic Advisor: Mary Beth Lencke, Undergraduate Studies Program

Lencke says the award was a total surprise, but wryly calls it "professional validation" because it means so much to be honored by other advisers. She has won two awards given by students also. In receiving the award, she thanked every person in her office by name, as well as her parents and her students.

As a student in architecture at Ball State, she found her passion for student services through volunteering as an admissions ambassador there. She liked being at a campus, explored admissions job openings and found one to her liking at Purdue. As she learned more about her field, she thought advising with students who have not chosen a major sounded like a great thing.

"For undecided students, it helps them make one of the biggest decisions of their lives," Lencke says. "I feel like our students are interesting and bright and they like lots of stuff, which is why they're undecided -- and it takes a lot of guts to admit that to everybody. It's an honor to work with them."

Lencke calls her area the most rewarding area in advising. One expression of reward came from a student's posting on her Facebook page: "Thanks for being the COOLEST advisor ever."

Outstanding New Professional: Andrew Oppy, agricultural economics

In less than three years, Oppy has shown enough talent, drive and helpfulness to fulfill his advising duties -- and two additional roles. Building on his Purdue experiences when he was earning his Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural sales and marketing, he brings a keen awareness of what students face.

"Academic advising plays to my strengths," Oppy says. "My reward is based on other people's success."

He has taken that viewpoint into assisting two organizations, as adviser to the Agribusiness Club and co-adviser to the Agricultural Economics Envoys. Further, he teaches the department's freshman orientation course.

"Our department has a mentoring program, and it's very rewarding to help freshmen become acclimated to the university setting, begin creating academic and career goals, and be successful at one of the best universities available," he says.

One students who didn't make a smooth start wrote, "He helped me fit classes into my schedule, find my major, and direct my life."

Of students with difficulties, Oppy says, "Rarely is it lack of ability. They just encounter roadblocks. A lot of the advising is course selection, a good course schedule, and a work schedule that fits."

He says he appreciates the great guidance of peers and leaders in his department, adding, "It's allowed me to do some pretty neat things."

The awardees' names will be added to the plaques for their respective awards.