Advising with enthusiasm, dedication, and attention to detail
Apr 19, 2017 | Atlanta
Georgia Tech has named Shana Kerr to receive the 2017 Outstanding Undergraduate Academic Advising – Faculty Award. Kerr is an academic professional in the School of Biological Sciences. Her selection is based on exemplary academic advising and impact on biology students.
Kerr’s extraordinary efforts as an advisor and passion for student advising, colleagues say, is evident in all that she does at Georgia Tech. For example, it shows in her availability and caring attitude toward students. Her top priority is being there to help advisees, with whom she connects regularly. Compassionate, empathetic, encouraging, and attentive are just some of the adjectives students use to describe Kerr.
She is a good listener, providing advice when asked, and posing guiding questions to help advisees make life-changing decisions themselves, such as whether to go to medical school or graduate school.
Kerr has encyclopedic command of advising regulations, which ensues from her attention to detail. Her ability to reference policies and procedures on demand makes her invaluable to students and faculty.
Without Kerr, “I would have been lost,” says a transfer student. “She reached out to me to help, displaying incredible knowledge of institutional regulations and policies. Anytime I was confused with the system, she explained details and requirements. She often went out of her way on her own time to contact others to help my case.”
Another student says Kerr went “above and beyond for me every time I needed help. If she did not have an immediate answer, she researched the problem and presented me with options.” During a particularly stressful time, this student says, “I could not have made it without her help.” For this student, Kerr embodies the exceptional, caring professional.
Another student, a careful planner, is “eternally grateful” to Kerr for the reminder “that sometimes you may not know what will happen, but make sure you enjoy the experiences along the way.”
In class, Kerr is dynamic, innovative, and engaging. “She made me excited to come to class and incited in me a passion for biology,” a student says.
Some of the ways Kerr helps students are program-based. For example, she advocated for the cohort-based introductory biology experience for biology majors, which has increased retention of biology majors. According to anonymous surveys, students found the cohort approach compelling.
Recently, Kerr joined biology teaching colleagues Jung Choi and Chrissy Spencer in replacing introductory biology textbooks with custom-built websites. The switch not only eliminated the financial burden of textbooks but also enhanced the teaching and learning of biology, a win-win for students and faculty.
“I am honored and humbled to be recognized for my efforts.” Kerr says. “Advising is something I’ve learned on the job from the amazing team of biology major advisors, and it has become one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I’m lucky to work with incredible students here at Tech.”