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!

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