Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Member Spotlight: Alexia Apollo

2010-2011 ACA Public Relations Coordinator

Hometown:  Daisetta, TX
College(s) Attended: St. Edward's University and Texas State University
Degree(s) earned: B.A. in Psychology (SEU) and M.A. in Professional Counseling, emphasis in Student Affairs (Texas State)
Title:  Assistant Academic Advisor-- School of Undergraduate Studies
What are your hobbies? I love any opportunity to be creative: cooking, decorating and designing, making/building things with my hands, photography, etc.  I also enjoy being active: yoga, roller-skating, hiking trails, most sports that involve a ball, etc.
What was your favorite childhood toy?  I had a SERIOUS cardboard box house made from the strategic cutting and taping together of 3 giant boxes.  I brought real dishes and a phone into it and decorated it. 
What is your current position at UT? Briefly explain:  As an academic advisor in the Center for Strategic Advising in the School of Undergraduate Studies I work with students (mainly freshmen and sophomores) that are either undecided about a major, or are decided but haven't been admitted to their major of choice yet (undeclared).  We work together to efficiently plan courses and explore the student's interests, skills, and options at UT and beyond.
Have you had any jobs prior to your current job at UT?  If so, what were they?  I paid for grad school by working simultaneously as a pet sitter, housekeeper, Teaching Assistant at Bowie High School and then at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and as a Residence Hall Director at Concordia University (when it was still downtown).  Other jobs here and there: scoring TAKS essays, short-order cook, job coach for Goodwill, and many more.
What is the most challenging aspect of your current job? I call myself the Dream Crusher.  It seems like I spend a lot of my time watching students come to the realization, either through course failure or some other moment of epiphany, that the career or major they may have been dreaming about since childhood is just not a good fit for them, or it isn't what they thought it was.  Ultimately, I know this is good and inevitable (with or without me), but crushing dreams does NOT get easier with practice.  However, after that sometimes painful moment, comes growth.  I then get to see them find out what does fit and start off on a unique path toward a new or revised goal.  Dream Editor?
Tell us about one of your success stories that happened in your current position (regarding a student, a co-worker, a project, etc.).  I had a student my first semester on the job that did not want to be at UT and was only here because her parents were making her.  Her disinterest led to an extremely low level of engagement, resulting in poor academic performance (not to mention, she was miserable).  She was going to be dismissed if something didn't change.  Her dream was to go to culinary school – something her family didn't support.  Throughout her second semester we met to plan out her action steps: researching culinary programs and practicing how she would approach her family with the subject once she had enough facts.  During spring break her dad came up to tour the culinary school she had chosen, and by summer she was enrolled there – not here.  It was great to see that student finally start to smile as she became more confident and engaged in what she was pursuing – even if it wasn't at UT.
Why do you feel it is important to get involved in ACA or other professional organizations? Growth and development as a professional are imperative to better serve students.  Involvement in professional organizations, such ACA and NACADA, allows me to grow as a professional, while also enjoying camaraderie and finding support among peers.  Could there be a better combination? (…Okay, maybe peanut butter + chocolate.  Maybe.)

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