Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Member Spotlight: Rose Mastrangelo

Hometown:  O’Brien, Oregon
College(s) Attended:
Lewis & Clark College
The University of Texas at Austin
Degree(s) earned:
BA in English
MEd in Counselor Education
Title:  Assistant Academic Advisor
School of Undergraduate Studies Center for Strategic Advising
What are your hobbies?
Swimming, biking, reading, watching films, making skirts out of old t-shirts, trying to become a better cook, urban races, dancing
What was your favorite childhood toy?
I hate to say it, but it was probably Barbie. I had a huge collection of Barbie dolls and accessories that filled up two suitcases. I could spend hours creating imaginary situations and dialogues with my Barbie dolls.
What is your current position at UT? Briefly explain.
I’m an Academic Advisor in the Center for Strategic Advising in the School of Undergraduate Studies. I work with students who have not yet decided upon a major or who were not admitted to their first choice. I also get to work with students who are in a major but are having second thoughts. I get to help them explore all of their academic options before they make a decision and declare.
Have you had any jobs prior to your current job at UT?  If so, what were they?
Yes, many! I was an AmeriCorps VISTA for a year coordinating a literacy program in elementary schools in Portland. I then worked on Capitol Hill for a bit in an office of lobbyists. I then went on to watch television shows to screen for objectionable content and did some editing for PBS. After that I ran an after-school college access and environmental education program for underserved youth in DC. And then while I was here at UT in grad school I mentored student athletes from the football and men’s basketball teams.
What is the most challenging aspect of your current job?
Convincing students that the major they choose will not determine every aspect of their future lives. They’ve been getting contrary messages for most of their lives, and from people whom they trust. It’s a balancing act trying to open their eyes to the realities of the career world while still respecting their current understanding of how a major relates to a career.
Tell us about one of your success stories that happened in your currently position (regarding a student, a co-worker, a project, etc.).
I have a student I’ve worked with now for three semesters who was not very engaged in exploring her options for a major during her first year. Our advising appointments never seemed very productive, it usually felt like I was directing them too much, and nothing much would change from one meeting to the next. However, this fall she came in and said she wanted to start doing some research on a career path of interest to her. We put together a list of three or four action steps for her to take before we next met. When she came back in, she took charge of our meeting and reported that she had followed through on every action step and was really excited about the information she had received. She’s now planning to volunteer for her TA’s research project to gain experience and test out the realities of the career she is considering. And she’s feeling more confident about transitioning next semester into one of the two majors she has identified. I feel like she’s grown so much in the last year and a half and now has a better sense of why she’s here at school, what direction she’s moving in, and how she can advocate for herself and take responsibility for her education.

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