Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ACA Holiday Party

The ACA Holiday Party was held on Wednesday, 12/11 at 2:30 pm in NHB 1.720.

The theme was "International Holidays" and featured decorations representing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, and New Year's Eve.  Refreshments were provided by the ACA memberships in the form of a dessert potluck.  Board games were placed around the room for party-goers to enjoy while multicultural holiday music played and a digital fireplace flickered in the background.  ACA members brought donations for the Foundations Communities Holiday Assistance Program and made cards and decorations for Ronald McDonald House and Meals on Wheels and More.

Photobooth pictures can be found online here:
ACA Holiday Party Committee members setting up in front of a digital fireplace

On the far right the photo booth backdrop is in progress! 

Kwanzaa table decorations; each table had an information card that described the holiday.  And Apples to Apples! 

Chinese New Year

Hanukkah table with craft supplies and Catch Phrase

A different Kwanzzaa table setup 

New Year's Eve 

Lovelys making holiday cards for Meals on Wheels and More

The Saturday after the party, the decorations were brought to St. David's hospital where they were put up in the Ronald McDonald House Family Room inside of St. David's.  The room is dedicated to families with children who are in the NICU at St. David's as a quiet place within the hospital to spend time when they cannot be by the bedside.
Ornaments made by ACA members

This Charlie Brown tree sure looks nice with extra ornaments!

Committee Chair Spotlight: Nominations Committee Chair Alanna Bitzel


Alanna Bitzel
Academic Counselor – Reading and Writing Programs
Intercollegiate Athletics – Football

What committee are you chairing? 

Why did you want to chair this particular committee?

I became an Academic Counselor for Football in 2011. In my first years as an advisor, ACA has served as an important resource. I found it to be incredibly easy to get involved with ACA; existing ACA members were super welcoming and supportive of my participation on committees and during events, even though I was new to advising and to the organization. I ran for ACA Secretary (which also oversees Nominations) because I want to welcome new members to the organization and encourage members to become involved. Fresh voices and perspectives are vital to the continued growth and development of ACA as an organization and to the strength of advising on campus.

Why do you think this committee is important to ACA and/or the university?

Nominations is important because it helps facilitate and promote new advising leadership within the organization and on campus.

What is one thing that you would like the membership to do to support your mission this year? 

I want to encourage ACA members to become involved – to join a committee, volunteer their time, participate in PDD, etc. Becoming involved does not have to become time-consuming, and everyone has something to offer. I also want to ask veteran ACA members to step outside of their comfort zones. Smile and introduce yourself to new members or members you have not yet met. Sit with someone new and talk with someone outside of your department at meetings or events. Share insights, and answer questions. These small gestures are important to building a sense of community and promoting learning among advisors on campus.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Ana Dison

Hometown: Born in Stillwater, Oklahoma but grew up in Friendswood, Texas

College(s) attended: UT – BS Kinesiology; Oregon  State University – MEd. College Student Services 

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present: Assistant Director, Campus Recreation Services – University of Maryland, College Park; Assistant Director, Division of Recreational Sports – UT Austin; Academic Advisor, Department of Economics; Academic Advisor (multiple titles), Engineering Student Affairs; Senior Program Coordinator, Women in Engineering Program.

How did you end up at UT in the first place? I came to UT in 1987 as an undergraduate student and graduated in 1992 and went directly to graduate school at Oregon State. I had a graduate assistantship in Recreational Sports that paid for my school. After finishing my degree, I got a job in recreation at the University of Maryland College Park and trekked back across the the east coast. After a couple of years, a job opened at UT so I moved back to Austin in 1996 and have been here ever since!

What is your favorite part or being a part of ACA?  ACA was a lifesaver to me when I left my first career in Recreational Sports and began advising in the Department of Economics. For a lot of my time in that department, I was the only advisor and was pretty lonely professionally. ACA was how I made contacts and made new friends and how I learned my job. I got involved with events and was able to learn so much about the academic side of the University. 

Here's where we'd like an anecdote about a favorite ACA memory or a memory that includes another ACA member. One thing you should know about me is that I have a terrible memory. I rely on my friends and colleagues to be my memory and to remind me of all the stories…but, as I reflect back on my years in ACA I think about all the people who have passed through our membership. Friends that have retired, moved on and of course all the friends that remain. Sometimes I wonder what they are doing now and where they are…

What advice would you give to new advisors or new staff members at UT? First, I would say enjoy the moment! The hard work of advising students day after day can be so draining but you just never know the impact you are having on someone. I remember one student who was older than average and who needed to meet outside of normal work hours because he worked full time. I met with him early or stayed late to help him get finished with his ECO degree. When he graduated, he sent me a giant bouquet of flowers. As it turns out he is the CEO of the University Federal Credit Union and I never knew it! He remains very supportive of ACA because he personally benefitted from advising. Secondly, don't be afraid to connect and to get involved – join committees, get a mentor, invite someone to lunch, sit with new people at meetings. Lastly, use your friends and colleagues to learn about new opportunities to advance your career. ACA is your network – use it to your advantage!

What legacy would you like to leave behind at UT? I guess I would like to think that I have made a difference in the lives of some students and some professionals when I finally leave UT. My work in the Women in Engineering Program is the most special for me as I feel like we are doing work that is truly impactful for transforming engineering culture.

Anything else you want to tell us?  I have loved my time at UT and being a part of ACA. I try to be mindful of the specialness of this place and the amazing students that we get to work with, especially on those days that are more challenging than others. I think sometimes about how long I have already been here but how quickly it has gone by. I have learned so much from the many different positions and people that I have worked with over the years and am thankful of the many opportunities that I have had as a result of my involvement with ACA. I look forward to more years and more opportunities!

Monday, December 9, 2013

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Ben Burnett

Hometown – El Paso, TX

College(s) attended – UT, ACC (while on dismissal from UT)

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present – Student Development Specialist, Distance Education Center – Administrative Associate, Distance Education Center – Student Affairs Assistant, Greek Life and Education – Academic Advisor II, TIP - Sr. Academic Advisor, TIP/College of Liberal Arts – Program Coordinator, College of Liberal Arts

How did you end up at UT in the first place? I attended UT as an undergraduate, it's the best state school. Didn't have the best of times as an undergraduate and decided to try to change some of the things I had issues with.

What is your favorite part or being a part of ACA?  Honestly, its the camaraderie. Learning about all the wonderful programs and events offered to the students and meeting my talented colleagues around campus.

Here's where we'd like an anecdote about a favorite ACA memory or a memory that includes another ACA member. J.P. Regalado! There are too many great memories involving J.P. But J.P.and all he has done would be my favorite memories of ACA.

What advice would you give to new advisors or new staff members at UT? Ask a lot of questions. UT has its own language and way of doing things. It takes time to understand.

What legacy would you like to leave behind at UT? The UTurn program. Really, anything that provides support to students who find themselves struggling academically.

Anything else you want to tell us?  Only that I have spent more than half my life affiliated with UT either as a student or an employee.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: David Spight

Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado

College(s) attended: Truman State University (undergrad); University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (masters); and currently enrolled at the University of Alabama (for Ed.D.).

Job Title(s) and Department(s): Present - Assistant Dean, School of Undergraduate Studies; Previously - Academic Advisor III, TrAC-Natural Sciences; Academic Advisor II, TrAC and Dean's Scholars-Natural Sciences; Academic Advisor I, TrAC-Natural Sciences; Academic Advisor, Center for Advising and Student Achievement, Colorado State University

How did I end up at UT in the first place: My girlfriend (now fiancee) wanted to go to grad school at UT (she's from San Antonio) so I moved here from Colorado.

What is my favorite part of being a part of ACA: the advisors - there are some genuine, amazing, student-focused professionals in this org.

Favorite ACA memory: Naming one of the Student Development Scholarships for Joy Lock and presenting the honor to her.

What advice would I give to new advisors: Engage in your profession - if you aren't engaging in your profession, why are you doing it? Not to mention, if we want students to engage in their profession - that of being a student - then shouldn't we model the same behavior? And, by being engaged, you'll be a better advisor, with more knowledge and tools at your disposal when you are advising students. Also, be OK with disagreement. When someone disagrees with you on the job, it isn't about you as a person, so don't take it as a personal attack. Diversity of ideas and opinions only make us as an association better.

What legacy would you like to leave behind: I don't really have an answer for that question. I'm not one that is too worried about leaving a legacy...hopefully along the way I made a positive difference in the lives of students and in the lives of some of the advisors who have the unfortunate opportunity to work for me.

Anything else you want to tell us: Simply, to all of the individuals who spend each day advising the students on this campus, thank you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

30 for 30 Member Spotlight: Jo Anne Huber

From the ACA Facebook page: NACADA 2010 
Spotlight on Jo Anne Huber!

I especially love this spotlight because Jo Anne reminded me how important it is to stand up and be involved in ACA leadership through committees and officerships.

Hometown Beaumont, TX

College(s) attended  Lamar University

Job title(s) and department(s) past and present
Academic Advising Coordinator/Dept. of GOV Formerly, Dean's Office Liberal Arts and Undergraduate Advising Center 

How did you end up at UT in the first place?
Relocated to Austin as husband changed jobs 

What is your favorite part or being a part of ACA?  Networking with other campus advisors and sharing of information

Here's where we'd like an anecdote about a favorite ACA memory or a memory that includes another ACA member.  Vividly recall the meeting years ago when Char Dison, a founding member and co-first president, gave the speech to ACA to encourage members to run for office.  Also, the 25th Anniversary Celebration with Dr. James Vick present who was so instrumental in the formation of ACA. 

What advice would you give to new advisors or new staff members at UT?
Be actively involved in professional development opportunities here on campus and in our affiliation with the National Academic Advising Association.  

What legacy would you like to leave behind at UT? That a person from Southeast Texas can come to this campus and thrive in the environment.  I had several opportunities to do so within ACA and many wonderful ones with NACADA, proudly serving as the first president from the state of Texas!

Anything else you want to tell us?  Work together, always keeping our students first and foremost!