Newest CAS adviser looks forward to seeing student success

Sha’Donna Woods has only been an adviser for the College of Arts and Sciences since December, but she is already looking forward to seeing her students succeed.

Sha'Donna Woods is the newest College of Arts and Sciences adviser. Photo by Kari Williams

“I love what [higher education] does for the individual as well as what it means for society,” Woods said. “So when a student is able to come to me and they’re confused or they’re worried, I’m able to provide them with an answer or help and they walk away pleased, calm… and they’re able to continue on and be successful.”

Before coming to SIUE, Woods was an adviser at Kishwaukee College, a community college in Malta, while she completed her final semester of graduate school at Northern Illinois University.

Woods said she always knew she wanted to work in higher education and with students. She “flirted with the idea of being a professor,” but realized it would “take a long time to really be in a position where students were my focus.”

“I looked into other ways to work in higher ed[ucation], and I recalled when I was an undergrad I had great advisers… So I thought I could do that…,” Woods said. “It was the right fit for my personality and my interests.”

Through her adult and higher education graduate studies, Woods said she learned how to interact with students, notice where they are developmentally and work with different types of students, among other skills.

“So pretty much opening up the college experience to you beyond what you experienced yourself, understanding the different situations you’ll face,” Woods said. “And therefore, that’s why I was really grateful for working at Kishwaukee before I graduated, just to have that hands-on experience with advising specifically.”

While working at Kishwaukee, Woods said a lot of students she worked with were undecided and she acted more as a career counselor and helped direct students through their general education requirements. At SIUE, Woods works specifically with natural science and math majors.

“The focus is mostly on getting them through the curriculum here [at SIUE],” Woods said. “The resources are different and many of them are pre-health students so there’s a focus on that as well. That’s the main difference…”

The most challenging aspect of her job is helping students “readjust” after a plan does not work out, Woods said.

“Say [students] do apply to med school and they don’t get in or things like that. That’s difficult to have that conversation with someone who’s been dreaming of this, looking for it for many years,” Woods said. “It’s hard to have to sometimes even be the one to deliver [the news that] this is the reality…”

However, Woods said helping students see what else they can do with their degree, even though it was not their first choice, is gratifying.

“That’s rewarding too because it’s not the end of the road it’s just a change of direction,” Woods said.

When applying for advising positions at various colleges, Woods said what stuck out about SIUE was that the university has professional advising and mentioned the National Academic Advising Association on its application.

“That really stuck out to me because not every school does that,” Woods said. “So clearly the institution has a commitment to advising and quality advising.”

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