The UW Association of Professional Advisers and Counselors (APAC) has elected Department of Communication Graduate Advisor Heather Werckle to serve a two-year term on the campus APAC Executive Board from June 2013 through May 2015. APAC members include undergraduate and graduate academic advisers, career and admissions counselors, program coordinators, and other student services staff from all three UW campuses.
“Your colleagues across campus recognize the great work that you do as a departmental adviser, leader on campus, student-services professional, and overall ability to connect with students,” the notification told Werckle, “and this is why they have elected you.”
These thoughts resonated with faculty within the Communication Department as well.
“Heather is a model graduate student advisor – encyclopedic, compassionate, and highly organized,” said Anita Verna Crofts, Associate Director of the Communication Leadership graduate program. “She has a relationship with all our graduate students at Comm that begins during the admissions process and extends all the way to their graduation. Her stewardship of their academic career contributes significantly to their overall success in our programs. Heather’s support of students inspires all of us who are fortunate to work with her.”
Werckle has been going to APAC events and using them as a professional development opportunity for the last three years since she began advising at the UW.
“I’ve benefitted from their workshops and their Summer Summit that they put on, and all the events that they hold,” Werckle said. “Now I get to give back and help run those events so other advisors can keep benefitting from that, so that’s a nice opportunity to come full circle.”
Werckle will work on events for the first year and receive a new job the second year as new members are elected and roles are redefined. She said she is comfortable in the events sector as she has had lots of practice with running orientations and other Comm Department activities in the past.
“I figured that would be a good way to get used to what it’s going to be like, to be doing something that I’m familiar with for the first year,” Werckle said.
One of Werckle’s goals while being on the executive board is to include graduate advisors more as she has noticed APAC events being more geared toward undergraduate advisors and students.
“With the large population of graduate students that we have on this campus, I think we need to have more of a balance in the advising professional development for graduate student concerns and issues, as well as undergraduates,” Werckle said.
Undergraduate and graduate advising are vastly different for multiple reasons, she said, including the software used, degree requirements, and the varied demographics and responsibilities of students at different levels.
She said although it sounds cliché, that the number one skill for an adviser to have is the ability to listen. And her favorite part about being an adviser: hearing all the students’ stories.
“We have amazing students that I’m always surprised by what they’re juggling while they’re in school or where they’ve been before they came, what they’ve done, what their lives have been like, and what their plans are after they leave,” Werckle said. “All of those stories just keep it interesting and I get to meet some really cool people.”