Megan Vandendriessche, academic advisor in the College of Arts and Science.
Megan Vandendriessche, academic advisor in the College of Arts and Science.

Smart advice

Megan Vandendriessche knows the power of students.

"We are students first—that's basically where we come from," said Vandendriessche, an academic advisor in the College of Arts and Science. "My job is to help students. If students weren't at the university, I wouldn't have a job."

With infectious enthusiasm and a passion for helping others, Vandendriessche is instrumental in assisting students achieve their academic goals through coaching, goal-setting and mentorship. "Our advising philosophy here is very holistic," she said, adding that rather than focusing on deficits, "we come from a strengths base when it comes to advising. We talk about your strengths and how you can leverage those in everything you do."

Originally from Vancouver Island, Vandendriessche moved to Saskatoon to attend the U of S in 2009. While completing her urban planning degree, she volunteered extensively on campus, including with the University Learning Centre (now known as Student Learning Services) as a peer student advisor—similar to her current job, she explained, "but scaled back and working with prospective students." She stayed in that role, working full-time during the summer and part- time during the school year, and became very knowledgeable about not only the different supports and resources on campus, but the many departments and programs as well. Not long after graduating in 2014, she was, naturally, a shoe-in for an academic advisor position.

Working in the largest college on campus, Vandendriessche admits there was a bit of learning curve initially, but credits her years of volunteer experience with giving her an advantage. "Advising is an experiential learning process for us," she said. "Once you get in here, you kind of just learn about things slowly."

Though she does not always see the end result of her work, she knows she is bettering the lives of each student she sees. "One day the student is going to think back about the experience they had with their advisor and that's when you can see the fruits of your work."

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