The best advisors are also the best listeners. But more than having a good ear and sympathetic persona, they are people who stop problems before they happen.

West Virginia University is honoring three of its top problem solvers with the Nicholas Evans Advising Awards. The awards—given annually to a graduate assistant, professional and faculty member—honor Dr. Nicholas Evans, a lifelong proponent and exemplar of excellent undergraduate advising.

This year’s recipients are:

Joyce Wang, a graduate assistant who works with pre-majors as they complete the necessary requirements to formally enter a major. Wang is a graduate assistant pursuing her doctorate in piano performance. She served as resident mentor for the University’s Seamless Transition Program (STP), a summer program designed to give incoming freshmen a head start on their courses and college life. Born in Taiwan, she enrolled at WVU in 2004 after graduating from St. Catherine Academy in Belize City, Belize, Central America. At WVU, she earned her bachelor’s degree in music education in 2008 and her master’s in music piano pedagogy in 2010.

“Joyce is the type of person you could come to for anything,” said student Cristina Fiorentino, who met Wang as a freshman in the STP. “She is extremely knowledgeable about the programs and activities offered at WVU, which was important as everyone in the STP program needed help getting acquainted with college life. More than that, however, Joyce took it upon herself to get to know each STP student.

“One thing I can be sure of is that I would not be the student I am today without Joyce successfully advising the STP program. I had never felt more prepared and excited about something in my life than I was after leaving STP in anticipation of the actual fall semester. Joyce erased my nerves and fears about what college would be like and showed me that I had every reason to be confident going into the fall semester.”

Ryan Sigler, enrollment coordinator and academic advisor at the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, advises many transfer and international students in addition to his normal advising load. He also helps to train future advisors, both full-time and graduate. Sigler helped create the Nick Evans award and served on the first selection committee. He has also served on the WVU Advising Workgroup which has helped to develop advising policies and best practices throughout the University.

“The passion that Ryan brings to his job everyday is truly unparalleled,” said Edward Chambers, who was advised by Sigler as a freshman. “The amount of e-mails, phone calls, personal visits and meetings that he goes through every day for all of the freshman engineering students is astounding. Students will willingly line up outside his door for advice. ? If a student ever needs advice or help in any sort of way, Ryan will put the rest of his life on hold to help out that particular student.”

Jennifer Steele is a clinical assistant professor in the Division of Sociology and Anthropology. As the advising contact, she helps advise the more than 500 majors and pre-majors enrolled in the Division and in the Criminology and Investigations program. She also trains faculty advisors and works with staff to update advising materials and coordinate procedures for priority registration advising. Dr. Steele also designed and teaches SOCA 199, a required orientation course for pre-majors.

“Professor Steele’s knowledge of WVU’s academic program requirements for a Criminology degree is phenomenal,” said Megan Cole, a student who will earn a degree in psychology this year after earning a degree in criminology and investigations last year. “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity of Professor Steele’s advice. She stands out with her dedication to her job and students.”

Wang will receive a $1,000 award for travel and scholarship. Sigler and Steele will receive $2,500 in their departmental budgets for travel and scholarship.
The awards will be presented Wednesday, April 13, at the Faculty and Staff Excellence Celebration dinner, which recognizes some of the University’s most dedicated and accomplished faculty and staff. The event is for award winners and invited guests.

Evans retired from WVU in June 2007 after a long and distinguished 40-year career at the University. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from WVU. He joined the English faculty in 1967 and also served as the department’s undergraduate student adviser for many years. He was also director of the University’s Undergraduate Academic Services Center and served as associate dean for undergraduate education in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. A lifelong learner, he was fluent in Greek and a student of the Latin, French, German and Spanish languages. He also taught British literature to scores of students over the years.



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