All posts by Taylor Weast

NACADA Region V Conference- Holly Englert

Holly Englert was a recipient of a PACADA Professional Development Grant for the 2016 year.  She used her funds to attend the NACADA Region V Conference in Chicago, IL. See below for more information about her experience!

NACADA Region V Conference – Chicago, IL – March 15-17, 2017

I was able to attend the NACADA Region V Conference in Chicago, IL in March (my very first NACADA conference) thanks to a grant received from the PACADA Professional Development Committee. I was very much looking forward to attending this conference to learn best practices in advising and to perhaps learn some new and creative strategies when working with various student populations.

I attended a session titled, “Got Grit? A New Advising Method.” The presenters discussed the differences between grit and resiliency and how to advisors can work to instill grit in students. The presenter’s defined grit using phrases like; “perseverance and passion for long term goals,” and “living life like a marathon not a sprint,” and that “grit is the stamina not the intensity” or the “consistency of effort over time.” The presenters stated that resiliency is the ability to bounce back after adversity and that resiliency is a pre-cursor to grit. A surprising fact they shared was grit is more predictive to a student’s success than IQ and/or test scores. Students who display grit often will have lower test scores but a higher GPA, these students work harder to keep up with their peers. Often times, the high achieving students (those with high test scores, high GPA, high IQ) display low levels of grit. So how can we as advisors instill grit in students? First, the presenters shared we need to work with students on how they respond to new challenges. We can do this by helping them to examine their perceptions, assist them in developing a plan, and being a member of their support network. Second, advisors should ask directed questions such as; what did you learn this semester? What mistake did you make that taught you something? What did you try hard at this semester? Third, it is all about goal setting. Advisors should work with students to set long term goals and revisit and revise those goals in each meeting. Fourth advisors should work to foster a culture where a growth mindset is developed. Advisors should be supportive but demanding, discuss self-motivation, and do goal setting when working with students who need to develop grit. The presenters stated that students should be praised for their effort and not their intelligence.

Another session I attended was titled “Reasons for their Departure: A Look at Undergraduate Women who Abandon STEM Majors.” I was particularly interested in the session since I advise in a STEM major. The presenter did a small qualitative study at the mid-size state school where she advises. While interviewing female students who left STEM majors for a non-STEM major she shared that five themes developed. The first theme was lack of preparation. The students shared that they had never had to study or didn’t learn how to properly study. They shared they had little to no exposure in STEM classes prior to enrolling in college and that they lack experience in these settings. They also shared this was their first time failing and they didn’t know what to do. The second theme that emerged was failure to access resources. The students shared they knew about the resources available but they were afraid to go. The third theme was regarding the method of instruction of their courses. Most of their courses were in large lecture settings where exams made up most of the grade. The students found that when they had interaction with the faculty they seemed uninterested, stale, and not friendly. There was no community and little interaction in the courses and it was all independent work. The fourth theme that emerged was there was no sense of belonging in the students STEM majors. They discussed issues of alienation that while not obvious, was easy to notice. The students talked about feeling like outsiders. The students stated that their peers seemed more prepared and that they felt intimidated asking male faculty and students for help because they didn’t want to perpetuate the stereotype of women not being capable of the work in a STEM field. The last theme to emerge was about career expectations. Many of the students shared that they didn’t know what a career in a STEM field would actually be like and once they got internships or worked in labs they found they didn’t enjoy the field. Lastly, the presenter discussed what advisors in STEM fields can do moving forward to assist female students. Advisors should review the major and encourage early career exploration. Advisors should normalize the use of academic support resources. Advisors should encourage participation in women in STEM initiatives. And the advisor should always validate the student’s experiences.

In addition to being an attendee at the conference, I presented a poster presentation alongside my colleague Ashley Maloff. Our poster centered on global opportunities for students in STEM majors. We shared some best practices for advising students in STEM fields who would like to study abroad, timelines to consider, and some facts about our program.

Poster Presentation at NACADA Region V Conference by Holly Englert and Ashley Maloff

Overall, my first experience attending a regional NACADA conference was successful. Thank you PACADA for the opportunity to attend!

MBTI Certification Program- Molly Gilbert

MBTI Certification Program Participants
MBTI Certification Program Participants

Molly Gilbert was a recipient of a PACADA Professional Development Grant for the 2016 year.  She used her funds to attend the MBTI Certification Program by the Myers & Briggs Foundation in Indianapolis, Indiana.  See below for more information about her experience!

Hi – my name is Molly Gilbert, and I am an ENTJ.

Chances are you have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), or will at some point.  It is the world’s most widely used personality assessment with approximately two million people taking it each year.  It has been used by over 2,500 colleges and universities and is popular in career counseling offices around the world.

Although I have taken the MBTI more than a few times – high school, college, a few times as an employee of various organizations – it has never made an impact.  I am notorious for giving the deer in headlights blank stare when asked my “type.”  That all changed in 2015 when I attended the First-Year Experience Annual Conference in Texas.  I attended a session that focused on combining the worlds of MBTI and advising and I was hooked!  In the past, the workshops I attended were the standard, and rather boring, “this is your type and this is what it means” session.  The conference I attended was the first time the MBTI principles were talked about without having to know your type or the type of everyone around you – and I wanted to know more!

I had the opportunity, with the help of the PACADA Professional Development Grant, to attend an intense 4-day MBTI Certification Program in Indianapolis.  I was filled with anticipation and excitement as the date approached.  That is, until a rather large, heavy box showed up full of my pre-work materials.  I very quickly learned why this was called an intense program.  Each of the four days consisted of eight hours of interactive learning followed by a couple of hours of homework each night.  This was no vacation!

While the MBTI Certification Program is no walk in the park, it was completely worth it.  While I value the information I learned about all of the types, I learned more about myself than I ever anticipated.  One of the most dramatic results I see is the improvement in my communication style, especially in my work with students.  I am able to notice subtle clues from students and quickly tailor my style to fit their needs.  While I thought I had always done this, I am more confident in my ability to “read” students and react in a more appropriate way since completing this program.

Though the information I brought back from the MBTI Certification Program is not always as clearly applicable to the world of advising as attending a student services focused conference, I feel like my experience was just as valuable as any conference I have attended in the past.  As a newer advisor, I relished the opportunity to slow down and reflect on my role in the most basic aspect of our profession – our relationships with students.  Thank you PACADA for helping to make this experience possible!

2016 NACADA National Conference- Storie Pedley

Storie Pedley was a recipient of a PACADA professional development grant for the 2016 year. She used her funds to attend the 2016 NACADA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. See below for more information about her experiences!


2016 NACADA Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA

Presentation by:  Karen Hauschild, College of Charleston

Title:  Generation Z:  Advising Across the Generations

Experienced by:  Storie Pedley

I learned some interesting information from this presentation – a short summary is below.

  • Definition of Generation Z:

They were born after the millennials. There is no consensus for beginning and ending dates, but in general, it spans from 1992-2012, 1995-2012 or 1998-2015, depending on the research

General Characteristics of Generation Z:

  • They are accustomed to instant gratification
  • They are social – they like to share, just not really personal stuff
  • They often think in and talk about big ideas/aspirations
  • Very short attention span (on average: 8 seconds!)
  • Highly visual – prefer video over text
  • Entrepreneurial (DIY friendly)
  • They are the first generation to have grown up with social media – very tech savvy – it’s all they have ever known
  • Very diverse – LGBTQ and a black president is normal to them
  • They have witnessed an erosion of trust – today’s students have seen politicians, religious figures and sports icons fall from grace in a very public way
  • They tend to have a feeling of insecurity – they grew up in the wake of the great depression and full knowledge of terrorism
  • They want a college major that leads to a job that then leads to $
    • Yet they also want their work to have meaning – it’s not ALL about the $
  • Have a desire to design their own major – they want flexibility

A fun reference that is updated every year – to help keep things in perspective:            Beloit College Mindset List

Why is this information important?
Here are some of my own take-aways from this presentation:

  • Why is it important to understand this generation better? This group of young adults will be the next group to enter our offices, and ultimately the work force. Understanding what makes them tick could help us improve our advising, recruitment and retention strategies.
  • We (Professors, Advisors, Admissions, Employers, College Administrators, etc.) need to find other/new ways to communicate with these students besides the traditional email and newsletters. Perhaps embedded video messages, short video clips, better/more frequent use of our webpages and social media, etc. This affects teaching style as well.
  • Instead of getting frustrated with who they are/what they do – work to understand them and accept them, and ultimately learn from them, so they in turn can learn from you. Start the relationship knowing you won’t change them, so meet them where they are. We just may need to ask for their patience while we try to catch up!
  • Consider whether we can we give them any freedom within their own major – to pick courses that THEY find relevant – without having to get special permission or jump through a bunch of hoops?
  • Take advantage of their entrepreneurial spirit and use that to better teach practical problem solving and coping skills.
  • From a recruitment/admissions perspective – if we don’t adapt and adjust, colleges will end up targeting only those students who see the message the way that college is putting it out there. We could potentially miss a LOT.
  • Because they have grown up hearing about the dangers of global warming, seeing their parents struggle financially and being very cognizant of potential terrorist threats, they see themselves as the solutions to these problems. That may cause them to pursue careers that they think may help society.

2016 NACADA Regional Conference- Jacqueline Brown

Jacqueline Brown was a recipient of a PACADA professional development grant for the 2016 year. She used her funds to attend the 2016 NACADA Regional Conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. See below for more information about her experiences!


I had the pleasure of attending my first Region 5 NACADA Conference which was held in April in the beautiful city of Toronto Ontario Canada. It was a great opportunity to go with some of my advising colleagues in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. It started off as an adventure from the very beginning, when we decided to drive to the conference instead of flying. The morning that we were leaving, my colleagues and I decided to meet at the Transportation Service Center to pick up the car. I did not realize that the center had moved to a new location. I was franticly trying to find the place, and I eventually got directions and found my way. My colleagues did not leave without me.

One of the reasons that I wanted to attend the conference was to take away valuable information that I could use at my own institution. I am on a Purdue Polytechnic Transformation Team that was looking at mentoring. Mentoring is not a new concept in higher education and the research does show that mentoring enhances a student’s undergraduate experience. As a result, it fosters retention and a sense of belonging and validation as student’s transition to college. The Purdue Polytechnic has been focusing on transforming how undergraduates learn and the issues facing higher education for several years.

I had the opportunity to attend a presentation presented by advisors from The Ohio State University on how they created their Peer Mentoring Program for first year students in Engineering. The instructors used more knowledgeable undergraduate students in their course as teaching assistants. The students then served as peer mentors to the students enrolled in the course. The mentors were able to provide leadership, tutoring and other support services. They definitely had some positive results from their mentoring model. The mentors had taken the course before and they were well acclimated to campus and campus life. However, the teaching assistants were involved in grading and reporting grades of undergraduate students. They also reported that the roles that the teaching assistant played in the classroom had a negative effect on some of the mentees. Supervision collaboration and formal training are key to a successful peer mentoring program. I realized while listening to their presentation that our mentoring model is very different but I greatly appreciated their insight on mentoring.

The conference was a great opportunity to network and learn about best practices from across the country. I want to thank the PACADA Grant Sub Committee for the opportunity to attend such a diverse topic and I would encourage other advisors to consider applying for professional development opportunities to attend a national, regional or state conference.

2016 NACADA National Conference- Shavonne Holton

Shavonne Holton was a recipient of a PACADA professional development grant for the 2016 year. She used her funds to attend the 2016 NACADA National Conference in Atlanta, GA. See below for more information about her experiences!


2016 NACADA Annual Conference – Advising To Learn in Atlanta, GA

Atlanta, affectionately known as Hotlanta, was the host city for the 2016 NACADA Annual Conference. Not only were the themes and content of the sessions hot and trendy in advising, but the rooms were packed with eager practitioners! Many sessions were in demand requiring ad hoc accommodations and overflow sections for the participants who did not want to miss the valuable insights shared by the presenters.

I was fortunate to attend this conference with assistance from the PACADA grant. I enjoyed networking with advisors from every region and learning strategies that would take my practice to the next level. Three of the most impactful sessions are included below.


Student Stressors and Pressures: Navigating the Global Mental Health Epidemic on Campus

Shavonne Holton with Mental Health presenter- Susan Toler Carr
Shavonne Holton with Mental Health presenter- Susan Toler Carr

Susan Toler Carr is a professional engineer and founder of the Justin Carr Wants World Peace Foundation. Carr became aware of the lack of attention given to mental health issues when she lost her son, Justin, due to an undetected medical condition at the age of seventeen. It was during this time that she inquired about some of Justin’s surviving friends only to find that some of them had a difficult time grieving his loss. Since then, Susan has made it her mission to spread awareness and advocate for the mental health of adolescents and young adults.

During her workshop, Carr elaborated on a plethora of conditions and circumstances that plague today’s pre-college and college-aged students. For instance, she redefined the non-traditional student to include students who grew up in adverse conditions, are a part of veteran/military families, and consider themselves socially isolated amongst other things. One recommendation she shared was to enhance student ID cards to include counseling and crisis hotline numbers on the back. She stated that some institutions have already implemented it and have found it to be successful.

What I appreciated most about her session was that it was a great reminder to look up from the demands of our work to be present with our students. It is only natural to be preoccupied by the countless emails we receive and our never-ending task lists. Sometimes the most effective strategy for student success is to be present, which demonstrates that we care for our student’s well-being.


#BlackGirlMagic : The Role of Advisors in Supporting the Successes of Black Women  

#BlackGirlMagic The Role of Advisors in Supporting the Success of Black Women

During this workshop, Dawn Matthews, Kelsie Patton, Ky’Eisha Penn, and Sabrina Smith of Florida State University used Critical Race Feminism and Womanist Identity Development theories to provide a framework for advising Black women in higher education. Critical Race Feminism acknowledges the various groups within a marginalized population. The Womanist Identity Development Model specifically illuminates the experiences of African American women to provide a more accurate perspective of their experiences.

During the session, the presenters shared various stereotypes that Black women at both Historically Black Colleges and Universities and predominately White institutions identify with including “being the only/tokenism”. By the end of the session, we learned more about the advising styles that work best for the success of Black Women including developmental advising which focuses on helping students define goals through collaboration with their advisor. Another recommended style was proactive advising. In it, the advisor initiates contact with the student during critical points or circumstances including if the student is high risk, on probation, high achieving, and other critical milestones throughout their academic career.

This particular workshop won Best of Region 4. With the number of practitioners that filled the large breakout room for this session at NACADA, it was clear the level of need and interest in this issue. Attendees from all ethnic and gender backgrounds were engaged in the critical conversations that took place. Even as a professional who identifies with #BlackGirlMagic, I found my biggest takeaway was to assess and approach each student according to her unique needs.

Shavonne Holton with BGM Presenters
Shavonne Holton with BGM Presenters

ATL: It’s HOTlanta: Don’t Burn Out

Presented by: Wiona Porath and Robert Detwiler (Siena Heights University), Jaimie Newby (University of Illinois – Springfield), Dana Hebreard (Calvin College)

With the many demands in our work, it is difficult to know when to turn down a project. It can feel as if everything is a priority even if it is a distraction. We all know that trying to manage a student load, committee work, participating in professional organizations, adjusting to curriculum changes, and other duties as assigned can lead to burn out. What is even more disheartening is that you can unknowingly lose the zest for the work you once found meaningful to you.

During this session, the presenters gave some of the signs of burn out including a change in sleeping and appetite, developing cynicism about your job, and finding it difficult to ease into the workday. Although I am in my second year as an academic advisor, I could see how our work could become less fulfilling as compared to the first day on campus or in a new role.

The presenters did well at reminding the attendees about the most powerful word ever: No. They stressed the importance of establishing boundaries with students, colleagues, and supervisors to prevent burnout. They also shared tips for incorporating relaxation into the workday and in life to create harmony. Some recommendations included taking your lunch outside of the office, going for walks, being present and more. Though the presentation covered signs you may have heard before, it definitely made me more aware of my own professional limitations and I can manage them when I returned to Purdue.

Overall, attending the NACADA annual conference gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing presenters, reinforce what I was doing well in my current role at Purdue, and introduced me to some new perspectives on advising. Thank you PACADA!


2017 PACADA Outstanding Advisor Award

Written & Presented by Erin Schultz, 2016 recipient of the PACADA Outstanding Advisor Award

Kristin Deckard Dawson (center), surrounded by family and colleagues
Kristin Deckard Dawson (center), surrounded by family and colleagues.

It is my complete honor to present the 2017 PACADA Outstanding Advisor award.  This recipient was nominated and given glowing reviews by his/her supervisor, colleagues, and by our Director of Undergraduate Advising, Sandy Monroe.

This advisor is known to be compassionate, extremely organized, someone who goes above and beyond, is a leader and mentor, always displays a professional attitude, has a philosophy of empowering students to take ownership of their academic goals, and values the importance of professional development.

This advisor has personally walked several students, who were in distress, to the Dean of Students as well as CAPS on several occasions.  This individual is known to develop creative approaches in advising, especially when the advising team has been understaffed.  Seeing a need in his/her advising department, this individual also collaborated with the Office of the Dean of Students for QPR suicide training for the advising team and arranged for team members to take the Clifton Strengths Finder assessment.  This advisor has been an active member of PACADA and has volunteered as a Co-Chair previously and is currently dedicating his/her time on the PACADA New Advisor Training Committee.

Colleagues have shared:  “This outstanding advisor has been an invaluable resource and mentor and demonstrates his/her commitment to students, commitment to advising, commitment to professional development, and overall drive to provide each student with a successful advising experience while at Purdue.  This individual deserves the recognition for the tireless hard work and passion he/she displays on a daily basis.”  Others say, “Whether interacting with a student, serving on a committee with fellow academic advisors or other university colleagues, this advisor is respectful of others, willingly listens to opinions and ideas that may be contrary to his/her own but remains diplomatic and articulate in sharing his/her perspective.  This advisor is an excellent listener, communicator, and an exceptional role model for the academic advising community.”

And so, with all of this being said, it is my privilege to present to you the 2017 PACADA Outstanding Advisor, Kristin Deckard Dawson, from Mechanical Engineering!  



Learning Community Instructor Awards

PACADA members were once again well-represented at the Learning Community Instructor luncheon where awardees for the 2016-2017 academic year were recognized. The list of award winners can be found below with PACADA members identified in bold text. Congratulations all of the award winners, especially our outstanding PACADA members!


Advocate Award – Awarded to Learning Community Instructors who have been nominated by their students for displaying a commitment to learning, exceptional involvement within the Learning Community, and providing opportunities for connection outside of the classroom.

  • Katherine Chartier
  • Michelle Mullen
  • Bill Oakes

Exceptional Event Planner – Awarded to those LCIs who plan events that are engaging, exciting, and integral to student learning and development during their first semester here at Purdue.

  • Aviation – Todd Brewer, Brian Stirm
  • Global Science Partnerships – Laura Starr, Terry Ham
  • Environmental Sciences – Michael Mashtare

Academic Connection – Awarded to LCIs who plan events and activities that directly connect classroom learning with hands-on experiences.

  • The Nature of Wild Things – Julie Pluimer, Robert K. Swihart, Linda Prokopy, Jeff Dukes, Reuben Goforth
  • EPICS – Bill Oakes, Sarah El-Azab, Beth Wilson, Priya Sirohi, Elizabeth Boyle, Carla Zoltowski

Student Impact – Awarded to LCIs who have demonstrated exceptional success in connecting students to peers, faculty and professional staff, campus resources, and the community at large.

  • Explorers – Jennifer McDonald, Mandy Chalk, Margaret Sheble, McKinley Murphy, Danielle Corple, Beth Jones
  • Exploratory Studies Purdue Promise – Rachel Ravellette, Cara Wetzel, Jessica Ramsey
  • Exploring Business Majors – Scott Vana
  • Exploratory Scholars – Kylie Geiman, Colleen Brown
  • Exploratory Studies Honors – Mary Beth Lencke
  • Agriculture Technology and Innovation – Dennis Buckmaster, Amy Jones
  • Nursing Nexus – Sandra Kuebler, Laura Curry

Real-World Experience – Awarded to LCIs who plan events and activities that offer introductions to various opportunities within their respective academic fields.

  • Engineering for the Planet – Inez Hua
  • Dietetics – Rachel Clark, Dinah Dalder, Mridul Datta, Lisa Graves, Donna Zoss, Kathleen Hill Gallant

Learning Community Instructor Awards- Great PACADA Representation!

Purdue has outstanding academic advisors, many of whom go above and beyond their daily job responsibilities in order to serve their students and the greater Purdue community to the best of their ability. Many academic advisors also serve as Learning Community Instructors. Each year students are asked to nominate outstanding Learning Community Instructors and based on those nominations,  four LCIs receive the Learning Community Advocate Award. Of those four, three are academic advisors and PACADA members! They are as follows:

Sheila Hurt – Explorers LC

Julie Pluimer – The Nature of Wild Things LC

Cara Wetzel – Exploratory Studies Purdue Promise LC

In addition,  several other Learning Community Instructors were recognized with various awards. Among the winners, PACADA members were very well represented:

Exceptional Event Planner

Awarded to those LCIs who are especially successful at planning events that are engaging, exciting, and integral to student learning and development during their first semester here at Purdue.

Debbi Bearden – Krannert Direct Admit LC

Lora Goonewardene – Discoveries in Biology LC

Jamie Linville – Discoveries in Biology LC

Marsha Rhees – Discoveries in Biology LC

Karen Wiggins – Discoveries in Biology LC

Academic Connection

Awarded to LCIs who are especially successful at planning events and activities that directly connect classroom learning with hands-on experiences for students.

Michelle Mullen – Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences LC

Student Support

Awarded to LCIs who are especially successful at planning events and activities that introduce students to helpful resources on campus and provide opportunities for direct interaction for support.

Vicki Gilbert – Computer Science LC

Faith Giordano – Computer Science LC

Desiree Marmon – Computer Science LC

Real-World Experience

Awarded to LCIs who are especially successful at planning events and activities that offer introductions to various opportunities within their respective academic fields.

Julie Pluimer – The Nature of Wild Things LC

Congratulations to the award winners, and thank you for all that you do for the Purdue community!


*a special thanks to Justin Hamman, Assistant Director of Learning Communities, for providing award descriptions and award winners.