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Voices of the Global Community


Bonnie Alberts, Black Hills State University 

After advising for several years, in 2000 I had the opportunity to attend the NACADA Summer Institute in Lexington, Kentucky as an SI Scholarship recipient. I am not sure that in the telling, I can do justice to the experience and the difference it made in my professional life.

I learned to advise with the help of an outstanding mentor in the early ‘90s. Listening to this colleague and reading what I had time for, I developed a sense of the foundations and guiding principles, heavily influenced by my own experiences as a student and by my own values. Attending meetings and conferences gave me opportunities to hear from others and to share conversations about our advising perspectives.

I knew that NACADA provided a very clear and legitimate foundation for advising practices that was rooted in theory and research, but I had been picking it up bit-by-bit, in a way that left me feeling fragmented and uncertain about what I thought I knew, and knew I believed!

My mentor had always encouraged me to attend the Summer Institute, but my supervisors at that time were not able to fund it, and I could not afford to cover the expenses myself. The scholarship to attend made a statement of NACADA’s faith in me, which influenced my institution to follow with the remaining expenses.

Attending the NACADA Summer Institute was just what I needed on several levels. The presentations laid out the foundations of advising with exceptional clarity—both in theory and in practice. As the institute faculty made their presentations, I came to the realization that I had known much more than I realized. The fragments of understanding I had collected were quite comprehensive, and what I needed was to get them organized and to recognize some correlations I had overlooked. The presentations helped me complete the picture and adjust my perspective.

Formalizing my grasp on the theory, I came away from those presentations with much more confidence in my skills and the legitimacy of my own practices. I had an unexplained history of success with my students, and after the Institute, I understood why.

The work sessions with my group were more difficult for me. The year I attended the Institute, I had been in a work environment that was fraught with scrutiny and criticism that drove away two good co-workers. I was hanging on, but I felt quite powerless to initiate any action. Although I was no powerhouse for my own causes, in those sessions I found that I was still creative and insightful and was able to help my group members develop their plans. It was another boost to my confidence.

Out of those associations, I connected with two colleagues with whom I spent the evenings walking all over Lexington. Great exercise—great conversations—great pleasure in those connections. For some time after, we consulted with one another and provided valuable access to resources.

Essentially, I came away from the NACADA Summer Institute with increased knowledge and understanding of my field and with more confidence in my intellect, my insights, my judgment, and my professional abilities. I made friends; I expanded my network of professional colleagues; I found time to go into myself and come out stronger. The experience has served me well in my practice with students, in the leadership and creativity I have provided on my campuses, and in the advancement of my professional placement.

For these gifts, I have been eternally grateful to NACADA for sponsoring my tuition to attend the NACADA Summer Institute.

Last summer I encouraged my current director to attend the Institute. In addition to the gains of his own experiences, he returned with a better understanding of my motives and actions, and with an apparent appreciation for how I work with students and my vision for this campus.

Bonnie Alberts
Black Hills State University

Cite this article using APA style as: Alberts, B. (2005, December). NACADA academic advising Summer Institute scholarship recipient reflects on her experience. Academic Advising Today, 28(4). [insert url here]



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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.