Numerous awards received within the Undergraduate Advising Office
October 13, 2020
By Briana Williams
Communication between advisors and students is a challenge in the best of times, but it’s been crucial in the wake of a pandemic that has upended the rhythms of higher education. That’s why the dedication and commitment of staff who go above and beyond to support the development of students—advisors like Nicolette Zbell and Matthew Smith—has not gone unnoticed. Zbell and Smith are advisors within the Wilder School’s Undergraduate Advising Office. Both were recently recognized among VCU’s Top 10 Academic Advisors of the 2019-2020 academic year.
The announcement took place at the virtual September University Academic Advisory Board meeting on September 21. The VCU Top 10 distinction is presented to advisors who have held more than 1,000 advising appointments during the academic year while providing exceptional levels of service. Both Smith and Zbell held nearly 1,100 appointments each.
"As a career academic advisor, I do not view this as my job but as my calling. So I am honored and humbled to consistently have a high number of student appointments. To me, it means I have been prioritizing providing support and guidance to my students. They are the reason I am able to do this work that I love,” stated Zbell.
The Wilder School was one of only two units within the university to have multiple advisors recognized. The other was VCU Biology of the College of Humanities and Sciences, the largest enrolled major at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“Working for the Wilder School is something special when you have a great team of people surrounding you. Getting to help students realize their dreams and passions for their work in the Criminal Justice, Homeland Security, and Urban Planning majors is something that really impacts all of us,” said Smith.
“Bringing recognition to the culture and all of the hard work advisors do makes me excited and encouraged for the future of Academic Advising at VCU.”
With caseloads of 450 students, VCU's Top 10 Academic Advisors Award highlights the intentionality of our advisors to do their best to meet with close to 100% of their students, especially those who are at a greater need and require to meet more than once.
“The commitment to student success by our advisors is outstanding! And, our advisors are making such a tremendous impact and changing lives every day,” said Shajuana Isom-Payne, Assistant Dean of Student Services.
Additionally, Director of Undergraduate Studies Nick Garcia was among the outstanding nominees for the 2020 LGBTQIA Burnside Watstein Award by Equality VCU. The LGBTQIA Burnside Watstein Awards are presented annually to individuals who enrich the sense of community at Virginia Commonwealth University and make a significant difference in the lives of LGBTQ faculty, staff and students. View the video that includes remarks from President Rao congratulating nominees and recipients.