Director of Academic and Career Services Steps Up to Familiar Role in a New Location

Having served as Associate Director of Academic and Career Advising at Keene State College since 2009, Kelly Graham came to the position of Director of Academic and Career Services at UMW with some valuable prior experience in making a combined Academic and Career Services Office work. Even though she’s been at UMW for just a bit more than a month and a half, she had the opportunity to meet a number of students and faculty as the fall registration process unfolded. We asked her to share some of her early impressions of UMW and the activities of the Academic and Career Services Office.

During her work at Keene State, in a combined academic and career services office, Kelly saw the potential benefits of putting academic and career services together rather than treating them separately. This approach can, she believes, “allow advisors/coordinators to guide students in: transitioning to college life; developing curricular and co-curricular plans; exploring majors and careers; identifying ways to develop skills sought by graduate schools and employers; and preparing for life after college.  Done right, this approach to advising can increase student retention and persistence to graduation.”

In working towards these goals, she will collaborate with an Office staff that she sees as “very dedicated” and “open to professional development and collaboration with faculty/staff.” Working together, the Office will look for ideas that continually improve the services and resources offered. One particular objective she has identified is developing more relationships with employers and alumni as part of expanding the career services available for students.

Through her previous work at Germanna Community College in 2007-2009, where she served as an academic counselor, Kelly had some prior contact with UMW and its students. Now that she has had more direct encounters with our students, Kelly’s impression is that “the students at UMW are invested in their education and care deeply about the University.” She is looking forward to working with her staff to provide a stronger array of services for students. As one first step, she will work with her staff on developing a stronger communication plan that will help Student Success Coordinators and students engage in more frequent and closer contact.

One of the particular features that drew Kelly to UMW was the fact, as she put it, that “a liberal arts and sciences university included an experiential education component in its curriculum.” With her background in career development, Kelly knows first-hand the importance of enabling college students to be able to apply academic concepts to settings outside the walls of a classroom.  In her words, “These opportunities help students engage with the world around them, reflect upon experiences and articulate the value of their education.”

Kelly says that her interests outside of work are diverse; she loves the outdoors and spends time hiking and kayaking.  She also enjoys the theater (especially musical theater).  She also says that she has a “sense of adventure leading me to try activities like skydiving, flying trapeze school, and rock climbing.” So much for relaxation in her time away from the frantic pace at the Office of Academic and Career Services!

Since “opening day” was just a little more that a week ago, it’s fitting to end with this statement about Kelly. As she says, “The most important thing to know about me is that I am an avid Boston Red Sox fan.”  So stop by Lee Hall sometime and get acquainted – just be sure to leave your Yankee’s pennant behind when you visit!

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