As teacher preparation students move through their required courses, it takes a lot of expertise and maybe a little juggling to keep them on track for graduation.
But, students in several degree programs in the University of Georgia College of Education can rest easy knowing they have the advice of an award-winning advisor to guide them.
Umesh Patel, an academic advisor in the College's Office of Student Services, has received the Outstanding Professional Advisor Award from the Office of the Vice President for Instruction for the 2018-2019 year. This award is chosen from nominations across UGA and represents the expertise and commitment advisors have for their students. Patel advises students in the English education, social studies education and world language education programs, as well as intermittently advising other majors in the College. He has previously served as primary advisor for mathematics education and science education students.
Patel learned of the honor during a surprise staff meeting, which included a visit by Rahul Shrivastav, UGA's vice president for instruction, to present the award. Patel later said it's the students he advises who inspire him in his job every day.
"Working with these students in particular is why I love my job," he said. "It's because of these students that I try to find new programs and what works for them."
This is the third time in four years that academic advisors in the College have been honored with this UGA-wide award. In 2016, Anna Williams received the Outstanding New Advisor Award. Last year, the College received both awards given to advisors across the university—Lindsay Dickerson received the Outstanding New Advisor Award and Samantha Pattillo received the Outstanding Professional Advisor Award.
The New Advisor Award is given to an academic advisor with fewer than three years of experience, while the professional-level award is given to advisors with more than three years on the job. Patel only recently crossed the three-year threshold.
"Umesh goes above and beyond to improve the student experience in our College in several ways," wrote Justin Burnley, interim director of the Office of Student Services, in his nomination letter. "The most notable in my view is his work with our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Additionally, Umesh has been called upon for input into several faculty meetings and program of study plans for new Double Dawgs initiatives. He has helped faculty craft and propose new areas of emphasis for their majors."
Patel coordinates and hosts the series Dawg Talks: Conversations That Matter, which invites students, faculty and staff to contribute to topics such as gender identity, religion and spirituality, mental health and disability awareness.
As a lead advisor, Patel works with around 250 education majors and also fills in for other advisors as needed. This has included working with students in the early childhood education program as well as five other teacher preparation programs, including communication sciences and disorders. "He already showcased many aspects of leadership and excellence coming into this role, and he has smoothly transitioned that skillset into becoming a resource for students facing difficulties, staff who need assistance and faculty in need of input," added Burnley.
Related links: Office of Undergraduate Advising