MONTICELLO, AR — Since becoming chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Monticello last January, Dr. Karla Hughes has focused much of her attention on one major goal – student success.
Hughes wants to improve retention and graduation rates to make UAM a model open access institution. To achieve that goal, she initiated a Student Success Collaboration to keep students in school and point them toward career paths where they have the greatest opportunity to succeed.
Part of this plan is improved academic advising. To that end, UAM recently announced the addition of three full-time academic advisors to its professional staff. The advisors are Tyler Harrison, a 2016 UAM graduate with a degree in political science and history, Hannah Berman, who holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree in U.S. history from Mississippi State, and Sarah Haughenbury, who holds a bachelor’s degree in archaeology, sociology and anthropology from Cornell College and a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of South Carolina.
“We think Tyler, Hannah and Sarah will be excellent additions to our professional staff,” says Dr. Peggy Doss, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs. “They will be able to relate to our current students and the challenges they face in determining class choices and majors. One of the most important factors in retaining and graduating students is helping them create class schedules that will help them succeed in the classroom and giving them direction in the choice of a major.”
Haughenbury served as a teaching assistant at South Carolina while pursuing her master’s degree. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Lambda Alpha, the national collegiate honor society for anthropology, and Mortar Board, the national college senior honor society.
Berman attended the Mississippi School of the Arts, graduating with a theater concentration in 2010 before attending Southern Mississippi. While completing her master’s degree at Mississippi State, Berman was awarded the James Garner Scholarship from the Mississippi State history department and was nominated for the Donald Zacharias Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.
Tyler Harrison is the most familiar with UAM and its students. The Star City native was the 2016 Political Science Graduate of the Year, an East Scholar, a member of Alpha Chi and Phi Alpha Theta, and president of Pi Sigma Alpha.
“Good academic advising plays a critical role in giving students the tools they need to succeed,” says Harrison. “It’s up to us to make sure they take the classes they’re supposed to be taking so they’ll be able to graduate.”
Berman comes from an academic background. Her father is head of the psychology department at Mississippi State. “Growing up in that environment, I’ve seen how students can really succeed with proper guidance and mentoring,” she says.
Haughenbury is a Clinton, Ark. native who believes identifying students’ strengths and weaknesses is a key to helping them navigate through college. “One of the things we as academic advisors must do is make our students aware of the resources we have available on campus to help them succeed,” she explains. “We have to identify their strengths and weaknesses and point them in the right direction. We have tutoring, a Writing Center, people on campus who can help them.”
The addition of new academic advisors is just one component of the Student Success Collaboration, but should have an immediate impact, according to Hughes. “Good academic advising is paramount to student success,” she says. “It all starts there. If we give our students proper guidance from the day they set foot on campus, those students will have a much greater chance to stay in school and complete their degrees. That’s why we’re here.”
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