By Jaimie (Engle) Newby
I’m from a town of 150 people, on a peninsula surrounded by the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Neither of my parents completed more than 3 college semesters. When I went to Illinois College (IC) in Jacksonville, IL, my life was immediately transformed. Although I felt behind my classmates, due to the various limitations of my high school (enrollment of 60), I did what I had to to catch up and feel not only capable but worthy of higher education.
At IC, I had a fantastic faculty advisor, Dr. Winston Wells, who helped me become the first ever International Studies major to concentrate in World Religions, although I wasn’t sure what I’d do with this major. I have always pictured myself as a teacher, and had experience teaching Sunday school and vacation bible school at my church. However, I didn’t enjoy teaching younger students, but preferred to work with older students wanting to better themselves.
I really don’t recall when I decided that advising would be the way to fulfill my desire to teach, but toward the end of my junior year at IC, I got a job as an academic mentor for at-risk youth at a local child welfare agency, as a way to gain advising experience. A month later, I met some professors from Maryland on a BreakAway (2-week study abroad trip) to Cuernavaca, Mexico. They recommended that I look into NACADA, for more info on becoming an academic advisor. I did this as soon as I returned home.
Shortly after this I was promoted to coordinator of the mentoring program, a challenge I was more than excited to take on. My senior year began, and I also took on a 2-semester internship in the Office of Study Abroad and BreakAways at IC, in order to gain experience in college administration. With recommendations from professors, I applied and was accepted to K-State’s Distance Education Academic Advising Masters program, which I began in fall 2012, and completed this past May, 2014.
I hadn’t considered graduate school before I was introduced to NACADA, but it was an obvious next step for someone as passionate about learning and bettering one’s self as I am. This was an amazing experience, to have professionals in the field as my classmates, and some of the top sources in the field as my professors. I also did substitute teaching while completing grad school, which only reaffirmed my decision to work in higher education rather than elementary or secondary education.
Just before completion of my M.S., I finally got my foot in the higher education door as an Admissions Counselor at MacMurray College. I consider myself to be a visionary. Whether consciously or subconsciously, I somehow manage to make my visions into reality. When the admissions team was asked to meet individually with the new provost, I immediately pictured myself telling the provost about my qualifications and desire for academic advising even though MacMurray employs faculty advisors and had no central administrative unit for advising. I looked at this meeting as an interview for what my future at the college could behold. The provost quickly became intrigued, as he places a lot of value in advising. Two months later, along with restructuring the Admissions Office, he informed me that I’d be moving from Admissions to the newly created position (for me!) of Director of Academic Advising. Yet another challenge I was thrilled to take on.
Now 3 months into my new position, I’m overseeing all faculty advising, as well as single-handedly advising all incoming students until they declare a major. I was immediately charged with developing a comprehensive advising model, to include advising processes, evaluation and assessment, and development activities for both students and faculty. Although I skipped a step in my career plan, going straight into advising administration without first holding an advising position, I am incredibly fortunate that I so recently finished graduate school at K-State. Not only do I benefit from having my education fresh in my mind, but my papers and projects are still relevant and often applicable resources in my new position.
I also had the opportunity to attend my first NACADA national conference in 2014 and refresh myself on best practices in the field. And, I finally got to meet some of my K-state professors! It was like meeting celebrities, having read all their publications and having only communicated with them online. They were so easy to talk to in person! Dan Wilcox even asked how my wedding went, having remembered me from his Career Advising course the previous year. I was incredibly flattered!
I couldn’t be more satisfied with my blossoming career, and my decision to pursue my M.S. in Academic Advising with K-State. I am looking forward to many more years of advising/teaching students, continuous professional development, and meeting like-minded professionals at future NACADA conferences!
Jaimie (Engle) Newby
M.S. 2014, Kansas State University
This is one in a series of student profiles. To read more Academic Advising Success Stories please visit the Global Campus website: http://global.k-state.edu/education/academic-advising/masters/success-stories. Submit your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.