Laura Gerhold to receive campus award for advising
As a freshman in the fall of 2002, Laura Gerhold was on an educational flightpath to a career as a commercial pilot. Her academic advisor at the Institute of Aviation, Linda Hasib, listened, asked questions, and eventually helped Gerhold redefine her goals and explore a career in academic advising.
Gerhold is so good at what she does that she will receive the University of Illinois award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising.
It’s should be no surprise that Gerhold models her advising style after Hasib’s approach with students. “From Linda I learned that my role as an advisor involved much more than just placing students in course slots and that every student is different,” Gerhold says. For some students, Gerhold says she serves as a sounding board as they work through goals. “Other students need a firm hand to be honest and tell them when they are in denial or help them find a new path.”
Because Gerhold believes that it is vital to establish the student/advisor relationship as early as possible, she meets with each of the new students in the Department of Aerospace Engineering during their summer orientation—there are 120 this year.
At the summer meeting, Gerhold helps students register for the correct courses and complete all the necessary paperwork. During the semester, she maintains contact with them by having required semester advising to talk about their long-term goals and create a map to help them get there.
“For students who are doing well, this advising session can serve as an opportunity to provide positive encouragement for them to pursue extra opportunities, such as prestigious scholarships, awards, and research,” Gerhold says. “For students who are struggling, semester advising can help notify them of resources available from the department, college, and campus.”
Gerhold says that contact throughout the semester can help her identify students who are struggling outside of the classroom.
“When you meet with a student consistently, you can better identify changes that may signify issues ranging from roommate conflicts, problems at home, medical issues, or they no longer want to study the subject area they thought they did,” she says.
One aerospace graduate says Gerhold didn’t stop at just advising him academically, but also acted as a career advisor to him. “By junior and senior year I had a few internships and a general idea of what I wanted to do once I entered the workforce. Laura acted as my number one go-to person for advice on how to accomplish my career goals. Once I received offers from companies, she knew how to handle the negotiation stage and was able to walk me through the process for the first time. Certainly going above and beyond the call of an academic advisor.”
Gerhold says advising is about helping students develop the skills necessary to make decisions throughout their lives that will allow them to reach their goals.
“Establishing a relationship early and co-creating a plan to achieve their dreams are important first steps,” Gerhold says. “Those steps are followed by encouragement, support and access to resources necessary for students to achieve their dreams.”
Gerhold will receive her award at the Celebration of Teaching Excellence on Thursday, April 12, 2018, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the ballroom at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center.