As an undergraduate academic advisor, Prof. Jane Londerville always has a sympathetic ear and kind words for students who come to her with academic or personal problems. Her ability to listen and empathize with students earned her the 2011 Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising Medallion from the Council on Undergraduate Academic Advising.
“I’m so thrilled,” says Londerville, Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies, who has been the faculty advisor for the bachelor of commerce real estate and housing major since 1993. “I think it’s a role that doesn’t get a lot of attention on campus, but that Guelph does very well. It’s critical for students to get steered in the right direction.”
Londerville is a guiding light for students who need help finding their way through academic life. She never gets tired of hearing the same questions from students, like what to do when they drop a course, how to get a summer job that will boost their work experience, or how to get into a post-graduate program.
Just don’t ask her which elective to take. “It’s an elective. Take what you like!” she says with a laugh, adding that students often get stressed about decisions that won’t have much of an impact on their future.
Sometimes, students come to her with more serious problems, such as an illness or death in the family. In those cases, she refers them to on-campus resources like health services or counseling. Depending on the severity of the problem, taking a semester or a year off can help students get back on track.
When she tells students that she has seen others overcome similar challenges, “You can see them visibly calm down.” She admires the resiliency of students who manage to graduate while struggling with personal challenges. “It’s amazing how some kids carry on, make it through and get their degree,” she says. “I love going to graduation and seeing people who made it through the journey.”
Londerville often meets with students who panic over getting the “perfect” job after graduation. She recommends they find a job that will give them the experience they need to get a better position in the future. She also connects alumni looking for new employees with students who are looking for jobs.
Watching students mature from first year to fourth year is especially rewarding for Londerville. She says first-year students are often overwhelmed and need help with the transition from high school to university. She tries to calm their fears over dropped courses and low marks.
Comparing the progress students make from their first semester to their fourth-year research presentation, she says, “It’s like night and day.”
She compares her role as an academic advisor to that of a mother figure: “It’s just like having a lot more kids, instead of the two I have, except my own kids won’t take my advice,” she jokes.
Students have given her thank-you notes and small tokens of appreciation for her support throughout their academic careers. They also nominated her for the award, adding her name to what she describes as a “stellar list” of nominees. Londerville will receive the award at the annual community breakfast recognizing staff excellence in September.