Friday, March 11, 2011

Member Spotlight: Lovelys Powell

2010-2011 Co-Historian (w/ Yesenia Sanchez)

Hometown: El Paso, TX (born in Nuremberg, Germany)

College(s) Attended: The University of Texas at Austin (BA); Texas State University (MA)

Degree(s) earned: Bachelor of Arts with majors in Sociology and Government; Master of Arts in Sociology

Title:  Academic Advising Coordinator (Assistant Director of Advising)

What are your hobbies?  I love going to see movies and eating out at restaurants.  I’m also a big fan of walking around Lady Bird Lake and going to Half-Price Book Store.

What was your favorite childhood toy?  Initially it was “Lester” (ventriloquist dummy), but it got lost in our move from Virginia to Texas.  “Mr. Mouse” (a stuffed mouse that wore a yellow raincoat and rain hat) became the top toy on the block.

What is your current position at UT? Briefly explain: I’m an Academic Advisor in McCombs School of Business (where I’ve worked for 7 years).  Besides my caseload of students, my primary job duties include: supervising 3 amazing advisors, working with all of our first year programs (i.e. orientation, FIG), and during my lucky months, I get to supervise a graduate intern.

Have you had any jobs prior to your current job at UT?  If so, what were they?  As an undergraduate, I worked in the Office of the Dean of Students. After graduating, I got a full-time position as an UT Admissions Counselor/Recruiter (2 yrs); then the Undergraduate Advising Center advising undeclared students (5 yrs); then the Office of the Dean of Students working with the ACE and Gateway Programs (2 yrs); then the College of Education working with students seeking elementary education (5 yrs); and now I’m in the McCombs Undergraduate Program Office (7 yrs +).

What is the most challenging aspect of your current job?  The most challenging part of my job is that of all of my job duties, I have two (supervising staff and advising students) that must BOTH be my #1 priority.   A funny part of my job is that I advise students work are leaving to work in the business world and when they tell me about their job offers they say things like, “The company only offered me $52,000/year…how can anyone in Austin live on that?”

Tell us about one of your success stories that happened in your current position (regarding a student, a co-worker, a project, etc.).  One of my students who grew up in a small town was constantly questioning whether or not she belonged in the business school.  She always said she felt that she was so different than everyone else and that she wanted to do something that would have a direct impact on someone’s life.  Even so, she persisted in business and was one of those students who became a FIG Mentors and an Orientation Advisor.   By finding her role within business, she also was willing to give in to my persistent “nagging” about studying abroad.  She ended up getting accepted to our Australian BBA Exchange partner for a fall semester, and while there extended an extra semester.  By the time she returned, she had truly come into her own and embrace that she had a place in the business school.  She is now working as a teacher in Las Vegas with the Teach For America Program and is doing exactly what she set out to do – have a direct impact on someone’s life.

Why do you feel it is important to get involved in ACA or other professional organizations?  Advising is a unique job on a college campus because we really have four constituents to whom we are always accountable:  students, other staff members, faculty, and administrators.  Each one of our constituents has an expectation that we understand how this university functions.  If our jobs were simply figuring out a degree plan, it would be the easiest job in the world.  Instead, our job is to put the university and academics in context for our students while simultaneous assisting our other constituents.  To accomplish this we really need the support of our colleagues across campus because no academic program is independent of the university as a whole.  Getting involved in ACA gives us a forum to learn and grow, to connect with people who have a similar job, and to make sure that our profession is never taken for granted.  When I talk about my job to people who have no understanding of what an advisor is, I liken it to being a mother – most of the work that you do is taken for granted or not even thought of as work, but each individual thing that we do has a huge impact on the future of our students (as a non-mother, I ask that you allow me this analogy with the understanding that I know I am understating the role of mother).

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