Friday, May 6, 2016

ACA Election for 2016-2017 Executive Officers

Below are the pictures and speeches of the folks who are running for an officer position in ACA for the 2016-2017 year. I've listed the pictures for everyone first and the speeches follow. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

President- Elect

Justin Brady 

Rose Yurcina

Treasurer- Elect

Alexis George

Micah Jackman


Anne Pugh

Briana Weiland


Kate O'Donnell

Susan Somers

Candidate Speeches

President- Elect

Candidate: Justin Brady

Good morning, everyone-

I want to start by thanking you for providing me with the opportunity to run for the President Elect position. I am honored and humbled to be considered for this role!

My name is Justin Brady-Joyner, and I have worked at UT since November 2009 when I was first hired with the Leadership and Ethics Institute in the Office of the Dean of Students, and transitioned to academic advising 3 years ago. My move into advising brought me into this amazing community, and I am consistently impressed with the organization.

My personal Core Values are Authenticity, Community, Compassion, Creativity, & Growth, and I strive to live and lead from these core values. They shape much of who I am and what I am drawn to, and connect with my goals for this position.

I love that ACA provides space for advisors to get involved within the organization, to connect with others around campus, to develop personally and professionally, and to share their ideas with each other. My primary goal is to ensure that ACA continues to foster healthy community among its members, and across the university.

Having served as the Pod Co-chair alongside Kayla Ford, I am grateful for the relationships I’ve seen establish and grow through the Pods. I am looking forward to seeing this program start up again this year, and hopeful that many of you will participate. The value of getting to know each other outside of our monthly meetings is beyond just the fun and silly things we learn about each other. Professionally, it is helpful to have a better understanding of others’ roles on-campus, and to be able to provide feedback and support.

Likewise, strong campus-wide relationships and teamwork are crucial to our success as an advising community and as a University. As President-Elect, I hope to represent ACA well by continuing to foster established relationships with partners around campus, and ensuring that information is shared and voices are heard. I want to continue the great work the ACA Advisory Board has done with Kayla’s fantastic leadership, and provide this as an outlet for gathering feedback from the organization. I recognize that we are each limited with our own experience, and by no means should my voice represent the whole, and I value the opportunity to include others in feedback-giving and decision-making processes wherever possible.

Finally, I want to encourage other members to become more involved in the organization. ACA provides a myriad of leadership opportunities, from serving as a Pod Leader, to joining a committee, or serving as a committee co-chair, or providing feedback through various communication channels. My experience has been richer due to my leadership roles with ACA and around campus. My hope is that each of you will find a meaningful way to connect with ACA this upcoming year, and continue your personal and professional growth.

Thank you for your consideration, and, borrowing the words from the great Ellen DeGeneres, “Be kind to one another.” 

Candidate: Rose Yurcina

Good morning ACA,

My name is Rose Yurcina and I am running for the office of President-Elect.

I have been an advisor at UT in the College of Fine Arts for four and a half years. Prior to advising, I served at UT for two years as a graduate program coordinator and one year as an academic assessment coordinator.

At first, I came to ACA meetings for the tacos.

Come on--admit it. There are mornings when only tacos (or coffee!) could lure you away from your full email inbox.

But ACA isn’t just about tacos. I’ve learned it’s about professional development and building relationships. It’s about serving students the best we can.  

I’ve been a member of ACA since I started advising in the spring of 2011. Since then I’ve served one year on the Awards and Recognition Committee, presented at Professional Development Day in 2015, and currently serve on the ACA advisory council.

In the performing arts, it’s customary to list your special skills at the bottom of your resume. You know, things like backflips, juggling, an excellent Donald Trump impression (although I doubt anyone is in the mood for that one right now).

When it comes to serving ACA, I don’t really have any special skills. But I am willing to speak up in meetings. And I will look for ways to make sure the voice of advisors is heard in important campus conversations.

Because I believe that when we advocate for advisors, we advocate for students.

You all bring such tremendous value to UT. It is awesome working with so many amazing colleagues across campus. Thanks for your consideration. 

Treasurer- Elect

Candidate: Alexis George

Good morning, ACA! My name is Alexis George and I’m running for the position of Treasurer-Elect. I want to start off by thanking my not-so-secret nominator for submitting my name (Yet again, ha!) for nomination. I’m incredibly honored to have the opportunity to run for Treasurer-Elect and become even more involved in ACA and its inner workings. For the past two years, I’ve served on the ACA Awards & Recognition Committee, and this year, was a member of the Professional Development Day Committee, where I witnessed firsthand the importance of budgeting and planning for such an event.

I currently serve as the academic advisor for all undergraduate students in the School of Social Work, where I have been for the past two and half years. In this role, I regularly oversee the coordination and orchestration of academic advising, orientation, admissions events, course scheduling, curriculum planning, and event organizing. Because of the juxtaposition of these roles, I’ve developed excellent management skills and I’m an accomplished communicator. I’m very detail-oriented and when it comes to finances, I believe that everything has a place, must be tediously organized, communicated, documented, timely, and accurate.

ACA has always acted as a supportive space where I can fellowship with other academic advisors around campus. This has meant a lot to me, especially since I do not have any advising colleagues in my department who can relate to the intricacies of advising on an undergraduate level. I have always felt welcomed and at home here in ACA, and I want to give back in a greater capacity. As Treasurer-Elect, it would give me the opportunity to become even more involved with this organization, commune with all members, and work together with the ACA Executive Committee to continue the excellence that ACA is known for.

Thank you for your time and have a wonderful rest of the day!

Candidate: Micah Jackman

My name is Micah and I have been an Academic Advisor in the Biology Department for a little over a year now.  First I am very humbled and honored to be nominated for an ACA position.  The Treasurer-Elect position involves three of my favorite things: higher education, trying something new, and money.  Depending on when bills are due determines the priority of those three things.

 In our profession we tell our students every day to branch out and try something new whether it be joining a student org, volunteering, or meeting new people.  As advisors and individuals I think it is important that we do that as well in our professional life.  Thank you!


Candidate: Anne Pugh

Hello, ACA! My name is Anne Pugh and I am an academic advisor in the College of Natural Sciences’ Center for First Year Advising, where I started in June 2015. I realize my verbal speech at the meeting on May 4th was somewhat haphazard due to short notice, so hopefully I can make up for it here by giving you some of my actual credentials.

When I was an undergraduate student at UT, I was both an Orientation Advisor and FIG mentor, which is what led me to my passion for helping undergraduate students navigate higher education and, ultimately, academic advising. I left UT for a few years to get my Master’s in Higher Education Administration and Policy at Northwestern University, where I conducted original research and held several internship roles. These included being a career counselor, a college advisor for high school students, and finally, an advisor for new student organization creation at Northwestern University. Because of these experiences, I am now skilled at utilizing organization and communication every day to ensure accurate transmission and analysis of information. Additionally, my final position at Northwestern involved advising on constitution creation, which I believe will fit well with the ACA Secretary role since I have become incredibly accustomed to how organizations formally run. My standard is to be meticulous and detail-oriented but still fun and concise.

As Secretary, I hope to keep ACA running smoothly with good humor (maybe a puppy picture or two), and to get to know everyone in UT’s advising community much better. For those of you that like to nerd out over tools like StrengthsQuest like I do, my top 5 strengths are Input, Learner, Activator, Relator, & Responsibility. They illustrate how much I love learning and sharing new information with others so we can achieve greatness. Thank you for the nomination, the opportunity, and your time; it is much appreciated! Have a great day!

Candidate: Briana Weiland

I am an Academic Advisor in the Student Division for the College of Liberal Arts and would be honored to serve as the 2016-2017 Secretary for the Academic Counselors Association.  I began advising four years ago for pre-health students and the Neuroscience program at the University of Southern California.  I was quickly hooked on the ways in which rapport-building in advising can lead to stronger institutional engagement for students.  In December of 2015, I began working in the College of Liberal Arts Student Division at the University of Texas at Austin with Undeclared students.  I have truly enjoyed the importance of connecting students with institutional involvements, resources, and experiences that match their individual needs and interests.  Each day, I get to encourage decision making skills, consider possible personal or academic roadblocks, and challenge students to take their next step toward academic and professional development.

While I am newer to UT, I have diverse experience in advising and have also served on a committee very similar to the Academic Counselors Association.  I served a two-year term at my previous institution, the first of which I led a committee that revamped USCs Leave of Absence process and the second year was the Chair of the Council of Academic Advisors.  In that role, I developed, organized, and executed campus-wide monthly general meetings, as well as executive committee meetings.

I look forward to becoming more involved with the UT community of academic counselors through the Academic Counselors Association and know that my previous experience in advising and organizational skills as Chair will fit well with the Secretary position.

Thank you for considering me for the 2016-2017 ACA Secretary.


Candidate: Katie O'Donnell

Good morning, ACA. Thank you for the opportunity to run for Historian position for the 2016-2017 ACA Executive Committee. My name is Katie O’Donnell and I am an academic advisor with the College of Liberal Arts where I split my time between International Relations and Global Studies program and the department of Sociology. I have been at UT for a year and a half and I am new to the advising profession.  In my short time here I have enjoyed becoming a part of this engaging professional community. I look forward to ACA meetings as a place to meet professionals from across this huge campus and to learn more about the work each of you do. The Argosy blog has added to that sense of connection allowing me to recap new information from campus partners and remembering important names.

This year I wanted to get more involved in ACA as a Professional Development Day committee member. I was happy to find a way to share my interest in strategic communication and graphic design by helping to develop the PDD event logos and program.

I developed that interest in what feels like a past life. I was a communications and development specialist for a small non-profit called America SCORES for 3 years before deciding to make the leap into Higher Education. As a communications specialist I was tasked with taking a lot of photos of adorable 9 year-olds playing soccer (America SCORES is an after-school program empowering youth through soccer and poetry) and managing the organization’s website. I recognize that the Historian contributes to the ACA Executive Committee in ways other than taking photos and updating a blog, but I should have that part covered.

If I am elected as Historian, I would hope to continue the monthly higher education updates and Kelsey’s Kudos. I would be interested in working on other ways to connect members to each other and campus history perhaps with campus tours for new ACA members or other interesting historical excursions across campus. I hope you will consider me for the 2016-2017 Historian Position. Thank you for your time.

Candidate: Susan Somers

Hi, I’m Susan Somers, and I’m here to ask for your vote for ACA Historian for 2016-17. I’ve been an academic advisor here at UT-Austin for going on six years, and I’ve been a member of ACA that entire time. My association with UT actually started in 2005, when I moved to Austin to attend graduate school in history.  After spending a few years in that program, I decided I did not want to write a dissertation, but that I had a passion for working with undergraduate students. I became a bit of an advisor wannabe and ultimately started as an advisor in the history department in 2010. In 2013 I moved over to Waggener Hall, where I currently serve as Senior Academic Advisor for majors in the Departments of Classics and Philosophy.  I really love working with any and all UT students, but I have a special love for working with students in academic difficulty and transfer students.

I’ve always been an ACA member but so far haven’t been as involved as I would have like to have been in ACA committees and leadership. When I got an email that someone had nominated me as Historian, it seemed serendipitous. I’m moving off a major committee for my College next year and I’d thought to myself, I wonder if this year is the right one to step up with ACA.  I have always appreciated the networking and support that ACA provides and I would relish the opportunity to deepen my ties with all of you by serving on your ACA Executive Committee next year. I’m confident that with my background in history and interest in the direction of higher ed, I could ably perform the duties of ACA historian by recording events for posterity and sharing news updates on our blog. I would also love to see more pieces on the history of ACA here at UT with interviews from some of our founders – that would hopefully help contextualize UT’s position as a pioneer in the profession of academic advising.

Please vote for the 2016-2017 ACA Executive Officer positions here:

Uncontested Positions

Public Relations (Communications) Coordinator
Blake Wilms

Vice President/Program Co-Chairs

Jillian Sise

Daniel Zarazua

Congratulations to Blake, Jillian, and Daniel!

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