UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Margaret A. Sebastianelli, senior undergraduate studies programs coordinator and director of student services in the College of Health and Human Development, and Beth Seymour, pre-major adviser and education abroad coordinator at Penn State Altoona, have been selected as the recipients for the 2015 Penn State Excellence in Advising Award.
Sebastianelli said her goals as an adviser are to inspire confidence and to help students find meaning in their pursuit of a degree.
“I want all to learn that a life’s resume is built by taking advantage of opportunities to grow, expanding one’s comfort zone, experiencing failures so that success can be celebrated and gaining the confidence and courage to pursue what brings purpose to life and joy to living,” said Sebastianelli.
She says institutional knowledge is key to her job. Her strengths include knowing policies and procedures, understanding administrative and academic missions and having a reliable network of professional contacts.
Sebastianelli has made major contributions to the University including the restructuring of the human resources staff position job classification system. As a member of the Instructional Space Task Force committee, she helped to develop a shared set of norms and expectations for scheduling classes, which meets the needs of students, faculty and classroom facilities.
Seymour said Penn State’s wide range of academic offerings and Commonwealth Campus options are all for naught if knowledgeable advisers aren’t in place to steer students in the right direction.
“Without appropriate advising, it’s easy for students to get lost, with consequences that range from professional to personal, from financial to psychological,” said Seymour.
Her goals include providing students with information and resources that will help them identify and plan their academic careers; working with other advisers, faculty and staff to ensure quality advising, and taking part in continual professional training to improve and expand her institutional knowledge.
Seymour said advising at a Commonwealth Campus can be particularly challenging because a large percentage of incoming freshmen are first-generation students who do not have the necessary background knowledge of university life.
The Excellence in Advising Award was established by the former Undergraduate Student Government’s Academic Assembly and is sponsored by each college. An annual award, it honors one full-time professional adviser and one full-time faculty member from any Penn State location who have at least two years of advising experience. Selection criteria are based on excellence in general advising, academic and career guidance, enthusiasm and assistance in decision making, and goal setting.