Brandon University students are getting some of the best advice in the world when it comes to their education.
Trent Gill has been recognized as one of the top academic advisors in the NACADA Global Awards Program for Academic Advising. It’s the first time someone from Brandon University has received the recognition, which is presented annually by the National Academic Advising Association.
“Advising is a critical part of a student’s journey at Brandon University for so many reasons, and Trent is a part of an incredible and hard-working team that puts our students first,” said Katie Gross, BU Dean of Students. “From making sure that a student fully understands all of the many options they have in front of them at BU, to helping them carefully weigh their choices, Trent and the rest of our advising team makes sure that every student at BU is equipped to make the best choices.”
Officially, Gill received a Certificate of Merit of the Outstanding New Advisor Award — Primary Advising Role. While the award is a bit of a mouthful, Gill says that translating complexities is part and parcel of his job.
“When students move from high school to university, there’s obviously a big jump in course content, but there’s just as big a jump in terms of course choice and responsibility,” Gill explains. “As advisors, our job is to guide students through the many options available at Brandon University, and to help them find the best path to achieve their goals.”
He says being recognized is a nice pat on the back for a job where success sometimes means being invisible.
“For many students just entering BU, they already have a career in mind, but there can be many different ways to get there, and it’s very rewarding to help them find the right educational match for their career goals as well as their personal interests,” Gill said. “For other students, it can be more of a process of figuring out where their strengths lie. Always, it is helping students make the best choices now so they have the most options in the future.”
Gill, who describes advising as a collaborative process that is itself also an educational opportunity, personally advises more than 650 unique students every year. In some of his busiest months, leading up to a new term, he can see more than 100 students. Many of those are returning students, who check in with advisors to make sure that they have the right prerequisites for the courses they want, to arrange their schedules and class workloads, and to ensure they are on track to fulfill all the requirements to graduate.
Students say the caring and knowledgeable advice they receive at BU can make all the difference.
“I remember when I was feeling discouraged, emotional, and anxious about a specific class I was taking, I was able to book an appointment with Trent right away,” says Alyssa Newton, who graduated from BU with a Bachelor of Arts degree last year. “Although we made changes to my schedule and future plans it felt like I was seeking advice from a close friend.”
With a major in Gender and Women’s Studies, and minors in both religion and psychology, she is currently working towards a second degree, in social work. Newton says that Gill provided her with all the concrete university information to set her up for success, including detailed and organized paperwork.
“He also knows what it is like to be a post-secondary student trying to balance academics, work, social life, and your overall well-being. He is approachable and professional.”
Brandon University has also made advising a requirement for all incoming students and now has available two full-time academic advisors, three student success officers, and additional program-specific advisors. This ensures that all new BU students can start their education fully informed and ready to learn, with a good grasp on complexities like major and minor requirements, important dates and deadlines, and liberal education requirements.
Gill is being virtually presented with his award at the NACADA Annual Conference this week. Originally scheduled to be held in Puerto Rico, the conference has moved online this year.
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