Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Member Spotlight: Natalie Lopez

Hometown:  Houston, TX 
College(s) Attended:
The University of Texas at Austin
Degree(s) earned:
Government with a Business Foundations Program Certificate
Job title:
Assistant Undergraduate Advising Coordinator
Department of Mechanical Engineering
What are your hobbies?
I love to read, watch sports (mainly Football and Basketball), hang out with friends, etc.  To be honest, anything that involves having fun and laughing with great friends is something I really enjoy! 
What was your favorite childhood toy?
Barney! I took him everywhere! :)

What is your current position at UT? Briefly explain.My current position is to serve as an Undergraduate Academic Advisor to Mechanical Engineering students.  I help to meet about 1100 students each semester to discuss current courses, future courses, career goals, and resources available on campus.  I advise students on prerequisites for courses, current academic information, and help promote progress towards their Mechanical Engineering degree-plan.  I assist students with identifying their strengths and weaknesses and help them adjust future semesters based on those capabilities.  I also coordinate events within our department like Orientation, Gone to Texas, Explore UT, Prospective Student Visits, etc.   
Have you had any jobs prior to your current job at UT?  If so, what were they?I have definitely had my share of jobs!  My first job was working as a Hostess and To-Go Server at Pappas Seafood House in Houston, TX!  I learned very quickly that the restaurant business was fun, but could be very intense when you mess with people’s food! I have also worked at Express, a downtown law firm, the Alumni Calling Center on-campus, and a telemarketer (for about a week) until I got THE BEST job as a Student Associate in the Mechanical Engineering department.
What is the most challenging aspect of your current job?The most challenging aspect of my job is telling students things they do not want to hear.  Engineering is a very complex major and to be successful in the major, you must be proficient in Calculus, Physics and Chemistry.  Some students may have been good at those subjects in high school, but are not successful in those areas in college.  Advising on the resources available on campus to help identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as other degree options, is often very difficult to do. 
Tell us about one of your success stories that happened in your currently position (regarding a student, a co-worker, a project, etc.).One of my success stories would be coming up with my own program to target at-risk Mechanical Engineering students.  My program is still in his beginning stages so there are a lot of adjustments to be made, but the success that I have seen so far is very rewarding.  This program (Promoting Aid to Student Success (PASS) was designed to give students all the information and guidance needed to be successful.  Students are required to meet me, or a member of the advising team, on a monthly basis.  Students are also required to turn in course evaluation forms throughout the semester signed by their Professor and/or Teaching Assistant, and seek help through the Sanger Learning Center and any other office on campus that is beneficial to their specific circumstance.  So far, students have given me positive feedback and suggestions to make it better.  I have many plans for this program and hope in the next couple of years, it would be very successful and helpful for all students. 

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