Diversity attracted Garrison to CAS advising

SIUE’s diversity was one of the most attractive reasons for academic advisor Carol Garrison to bring her talents to the university.

“Certainly, there’s more transfer students,” Garrison said. “That’s really been quite a difference from the other place[s] I’ve been. People come from Illinois, but not all over the place. So, some are coming from very rural locations and some from the city so the diversity has been really great.”

Every student who walks through her door, according to Garrison, is different.

“That’s kind of cool,” said Garrison, who has been with the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Advising for nearly two years.

Another aspect of advising that she enjoys includes watching students make their way through their career path.

“I think seeing students from the moment they come in as freshmen and then getting to see them graduate as seniors and kind of being with them that entire time is really rewarding and seeing the evolution of the person,” Garrison said.

However, the most challenging aspect of working with students is helping them find motivation when they struggle to do so. Garrison said she tries to find what is at the core of the issue and discuss it with the student.

“Sometimes it takes a semester or two and a couple talks, but [it’s good to] also encourage them to come in and just talk to somebody about it,” Garrison said, “And find what it is they need to do to keep moving and also to just really try to focus on the end goal and if we kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel, so they don’t get weighed down.”

She has been involved in academic advising and higher education throughout her career. Garrison took eight years off to raise her children, but when she was “ready to get back in the game” after her youngest child entered kindergarten, she found herself at SIUE – because of its location and its diversity.

She said her educational background in communications, psychology and counseling has been benefited her advising role. Before launching into advising specifically, her work in human resources lent itself to similar duties.

“I have just found that that’s sort of my niche and the education prepared me by really helping me discover what my strengths and weaknesses are, and gave me opportunities for hands on learning for how to deal with people and, really, my education focused on relationships and the psychology of that,” Garrison said. “So that has really helped.”

Her career began with a graduate assistantship in career services while earning a professional counseling master’s degree from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. From there, she went to Washington University St. Louis’ Olin Business School to serve in an academic advising/student services/admissions role.

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