Jaimie Newby, MacMurray College
Small Town Girl
“I’m from a town of 150 people, on a peninsula surrounded by the Mississippi and Illinois rivers” (Newby, 2015). We drive our cars across ferry boats daily to work, buy amenities, and seek entertainment. I graduated fourth in my high school class of 23. Although a small, rural school faces inevitable limitations, it was an absolute blessing to grow up in this uniquely intimate environment. But of course, that meant for a steeper learning curve when I stepped out from between the two rivers.
Neither of my parents, who had lived in our hometown for all or most of their lives, completed more than three college semesters. When I went to Illinois College (IC) in Jacksonville, IL, my life was immediately transformed. Although there were ways in which I felt less prepared than my classmates, I never lost sight of all that I’d set out to achieve, despite not being sure exactly what that was . . .
“At IC, I had a fantastic faculty advisor, Dr. Winston Wells, who helped me become the first ever International Studies major to concentrate in World Religions, although I wasn’t sure what I’d do with this major” (Newby, 2015). I just knew these were the subjects I enjoyed studying. As for my career, I had always pictured myself as a teacher. In high school, I taught both Sunday school and vacation bible school at my church. However, it didn’t take long to realize that I didn’t enjoy teaching younger students.
“I really don’t recall when I decided that advising would be the way to fulfill my desire to teach, but toward the end of my junior year at IC, I got a job as an academic mentor for at-risk youth at a local child welfare agency as a way to gain advising experience” (Newby, 2015). After the semester ended, I met some professors from Maryland on a BreakAway (2-week study abroad trip) to Cuernavaca, Mexico. “They recommended that I look into NACADA for more info on becoming an academic advisor. I did this as soon as I returned home” (Newby, 2015).
Later that summer I was promoted to coordinator of the mentoring program—a challenge I was more than excited to take on! “My senior year began, and I also took on an internship in the Office of Study Abroad and BreakAways at IC in order to gain experience in college administration. With recommendations from professors, I applied and was accepted to K-State’s Distance Education Academic Advising Master’s program, which I began in fall 2012” ” (Newby, 2015) and completed in May 2014.
“I hadn’t considered graduate school before I was introduced to NACADA, but it was an obvious next step for someone as passionate about learning and teaching as I am” (Newby, 2015). And it was an amazing experience to have professionals in the field as my classmates, and some of the top sources in the field as my professors. When funding for the academic mentoring program was cut, I tried out substitute teaching at all levels. I tended to prefer 8th grade and high school classes, as the lesser of many evils. This, coupled with my transformative undergrad experience, only reaffirmed my decision to work in higher education with those excited to educate and better themselves.
Higher Ed Professional
“Just before completion of my M.S., I finally got my foot in the higher education door as an Admissions Counselor at MacMurray College” (Newby, 2015). This lasted all of three months, and I’ll tell you why: I consider myself to be a visionary. Whether consciously or subconsciously, I often somehow craft my visions into reality. When the admissions team was asked to meet individually with the new provost, I immediately saw this not as a simple meet-and-greet, but as an interview. I pictured myself telling the provost about my qualifications for and desire to advise, even though MacMurray employed only faculty advisors and had no central administrative unit for advising. Already holding a high opinion of the importance of effective advising, the provost was quickly intrigued. Very shortly after this meeting, along with an already planned restructuring of the Admissions Office (assumed reason as to why the meeting was called in the first place), I was informed that I’d be moving into the newly created position of Director of Academic Advising. Yet another challenge I was thrilled to take on!
In my second year as a professional advisor, I’ve had a very exciting journey. Processes have changed, duties, colleagues, and bosses have come and gone. I’ve established successful relationships with countless students. I’ve made an impact on the campus community, and am now seen as a central resource for advising questions, predicaments, miracles, concerns, and more, by students, faculty, and staff. I’ve also dedicated myself to making an impact on the professional advising community as well. Since attending my first NACADA event at the annual conference in Minneapolis last year, I’ve made lasting connections, including friendships, professional references, and partners for collaborative research efforts. I’ve evaluated presentation proposals, volunteered in various sessions at every event I’ve attended, collaborated on a presentation effort with a group I immediately felt a sense of belonging (the Small Colleges & Universities Commission), received grants to attend conferences, presented at a state conference, and have attended another annual conference—Viva NACADA 15! Of particular excitement at each conference is the reunion for K-Staters. As a small town girl who mostly knew of my K-State professors from their publications, it’s very exhilarating to rub elbows with them in the Forum Tower Suite at Caesar’s Palace!
“I couldn’t be more satisfied with my blossoming career” (Newby, 2015) and what the future holds with regard to many more years of advising/teaching students, continuous professional development, and meeting like-minded professionals at future NACADA conferences! How lucky that I’m able to enjoy this level of job-satisfaction, considering that my undergraduate years were selfishly spent studying what I was interested in at that time. But what a testament to the liberal arts! I became a global citizen; well-rounded, informingly introspective, knowledgeable and respectful of differing perceptions and values. I studied and truly enjoyed things I never thought I would back when I was sitting in my self-constructed tree house in Golden Eagle, IL. During that significant time as an undergrad wherein I allowed myself to constantly reflect on what I was learning in both a worldly and personal way, I not only cultivated the transferrable skills that will carry me through my career, but also cracked the code on how to apply my skills and values in a rewarding position related to my lifelong interest of being a teacher!
Jaimie Newby, M.S.
Director of Academic Advising
Newby, J. (2015, February 9). The student becomes the master – advisor. Kansas State University Blog. Retrieved from https://academicadvising.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/the-student-becomes-the-master-advisor/
Cite this article using APA style as: Newby, J. (2016, March). When country folk meet the liberal arts. Academic Advising Today, 39(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]