Advice for advisers
Student affairs officers pick up tips on services

By D. Lyn HunterPublic Affairs

03 April 2002 | Shortly after transferring to Berkeley from a community college, William Wood — now a senior integrative biology major — was on the verge of blowing his academic career.

“I was put on probation because of poor grades and eventually dismissed,” Wood recalled. “I was depressed and not sure what to do. My dream of being a doctor was in serious jeopardy.”

Wood recounted his slide to a rapt audience at the campus’s annual Conference on Advising, Counseling and Mentoring, held March 26-27 at the Clark Kerr campus.

Sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Affairs, the conference offers dozens of workshops on campus programs that can help student affairs officers better serve their students. Topics included developing students through internships, establishing residency for tuition purposes and assisting students with psychological disabilities.

Advisers heard Wood describe how the campus Educational Opportunity Program helped him salvage his undergraduate career.

It offers academic and personal counseling, referrals, peer advising, emergency loans, grants and fee waivers to help low-income students who are the first in their family to go to college stay in school.

With such assistance, Wood was able to re-enroll and will graduate with honors this spring.

“I now have a 3.4 GPA and am applying to medical schools,” said a beaming Wood. “I’m so thankful for the open arms that were extended to me at EOP.”

Married, single-parent and international students also face special challenges, explained counselor Dianne Rush Woods at a workshop on assisting non-traditional students.

“These populations have special needs that should be considered when advising them,” said Rush Woods. “The financial hardships, child-care responsibilities, cultural differences and language barriers these groups often face can add a lot of strain.”

Rush Woods should know. University Village in Albany — where she heads the family assistance program — is home to 800 families with children from more than 57 countries.

Rush Woods helps families at the village deal with health problems, divorce and separation, pregnancy, even suicide and domestic violence. She connects international students to others from their home country to ease the isolation and offers budgeting workshops to help those with limited resources better manage their money.

“My job,” said Rush Wood, “is to remove as many stressors as possible to help these students get the most out of their educational experience.”


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Copyright 2002, The Regents of the University of California.
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