Julia Lawson, academic advisor in the Poole College of Management’s Office of Undergraduate Programs, received NC State University’s Barbara Soloman Advising Award last week. The award recognizes the dedicated service to students by an advisor with five or more years’ experience at NC State, whose primary role is academic advising.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my role as an academic advisor in the Poole College of Management for the past five and a half years,” Lawson said in an email interview with Poole College communications. “It is a joy to come to work because of my colleagues as well as the students. The people at NC State make each day awesome,” she said.
Her advising philosophy – grounded in the theory of challenge and support – reflects her deep commitment to her students. “My ultimate goal as an advisor is to create relationships with my students which allows me to know who they are, understand where they are developmentally and to successfully provide them with the appropriate balance of challenge and support.” That means her interactions with students individual students almost always look different, as they are based on the students’ individual style and current needs.
“As I am working with a student, I always ask myself: ‘How I can best impact that student.’ My hope is that I am able to create an environment where students feel comfortable being honest with me, want to share their story with me, and that they leave after meeting with me feeling that their voice was heard,” she said.
That involves more than course planning, she said. “I would highly encourage students to seek out their academic advisor so that they can make that very important connection on campus,” she said. “I believe that I have the obligation to provide holistic guidance to my advisees, to help students develop life skills that will ultimately help them in all areas of their life.” That includes the learning the following key life skills:
- How to be resilient – to handle stressful situations.
- How to attain balance in life – to be able to determine what is the level of involvement in all the areas of their life that keep them happy and healthy.
- How to embrace their uniqueness – to acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses but most importantly to embrace what makes them stand out as an individual.
- Learn how to navigate conflict – to know that life will never be free of conflict, so they must learn how to successfully manage conflict, using their resolution of conflicts with peers in team work, for example, as practice for their work as professionals.
- Learn that they have what it takes to brighten the world – to see how everything that they have experienced before college has been shaping them and preparing them to be in the place where they are. And that regardless of who they were before they arrived on campus, college is the safe place for them to discover who they really want to be, and that they also don’t have to figure it out all on their own.
“My expectation is that when they walk across the stage at graduation, they will know that there are multiple people who believe in them and have gained the confidence to make a difference wherever they go,” she said.
“My advising philosophy evolves daily and I hope that there will never be a day where I feel like I have mastered my work with college students. I learn something new about myself and others each and every day, and am committed to finding ways to constantly improve in my practice as a student development professional,” Lawson said.
“Although I have had many positions throughout my career which I have enjoyed thoroughly, I have found that my time serving as an academic advisor has probably given me the greatest fulfillment,” she said.
“Advising at NC State looks very different across campus, but the developmental advising model that our specific college has adopted is congruent with my advising philosophy,” she said. “Our students are so unique; they constantly surprise and energize me. At the very core of my advising philosophy is my desire for every student who I come into contact with to feel my passion for helping them succeed both in college and as an individual in society.”
Related story: NC State Bulletin