by Alice Dobie-Galuska, University Division Academic Advisor
I graduated 28 years ago, and I’m still getting messages from my college advisor!
Students are advised frequently to build connections with their professors, advisors, and other potential mentors. “Be sure to go to professor office hours.” “Be sure to let your advisor get to know you.” “Get involved.” “Shadow professionals.” “Build your network.” “It’s important for when you need to ask for letters of recommendation.” But it goes way beyond that.
I studied biochemistry and dance when I was in college. My biochemistry professor was my academic advisor and my dance professor just happened to be his spouse. I took more than one class with each of them. My dance professor directed the college dance company that I participated in my sophomore – senior years. I saw them multiple times a week at school. I babysat their kids. Some of my fondest college memories include dance performances, learning glycolysis as a dance in a biochemistry class, and rocking my professors’ young son to sleep.
Yes they advised me and they wrote letters of recommendation, but there is much more. Last summer my advisor contacted me out of the blue, which has happened consistently over the years. He called to tell me about a nutrition project, his research area, and we both ended up sharing about our experiences surviving cancer. I had a major surgery last summer and it has been a challenging transition. Just the other day my advisor left a voice message on my cell phone to let me know that they are thinking about me. I saved the message. It says, “I hope it helps to know that we care about you.”
Dear students, I hope you know that there are many people at IU who care about you. Reach out to faculty and staff and let them know who you are. You never know who you will make a connection with and possibly develop a long-term mentor-mentee relationship. It may be an advisor or a professor. It could be a supervisor at your campus job or an associate instructor. This type of relationship is another amazing opportunity that a college education provides. If you are not sure how to begin, try meeting with your academic advisor to tell them about yourself.
We are here for you.