Derek Warner, CEE, James M. and Marsha D. McCormick Advising Award
For Derek Warner, advising starts with helping students think critically about their likes, dislikes, what they are good at, and what they are not. "Being present when somebody realizes what they want to do as a career is a special thing," he says. "However, it is rarely this easy, as most often you end up aiding students in choosing a path forward which will allow them to keep the most doors open in terms of what they can do career-wise."
In the two years he has been advising students at Cornell, Warner says he has become more aware that every student comes with a different set of experiences and interests. "Starting, I assumed the student's perspective was the same as mine as a student. Now I realize that there is a wide range of perspectives which they have, some very similar to my own, others very different," he says. "The further these are from your own, the more challenging it is to relate and give good advice."
Ninety percent of the time, says Warner, an adviser can help struggling students by taking the time to identifying the cause of their problems and then letting them know what they can do to fix it. "Often struggling students psych themselves out," he says, "so I find it useful to remind them that they can turn their situation around and that they can still ultimately get where they want to go."
As a junior faculty member, Warner hesitates to give advice on advising. "But one thing that I have learned is that enthusiasm really is contagious," he says. "When you are excited, the students tend to get excited."