Meet Kat, SOC's newest Academic Adviser
By Travis Cornejo, SoC Web Reporter
Hugs and mugs.
That’s what makes all the difference for School of Communication Academic Adviser Kat Fraser.
“It’s great working with students who take the time to show their appreciation of the work that advisers put in,” she said. “That makes the job worth doing. And it doesn’t have to be something big. I had a student give me a coffee mug for helping them get through a tough semester. I had another student just come back and give me a hug.”
Although, as an adviser, she can’t always give students the answers they want, she’s grateful when a student comes back to say, “Thank you for your guidance. I understand where you were coming from, and I appreciate you taking the time to help me.”
Prior to becoming a full-time academic adviser, Fraser worked as a graduate assistant under Assistant Dean Dr. Shawna Cooper-Gibson. She completed her master’s degree in Higher Education in the summer of 2015, which was around the same time the School of Communication got the go ahead to hire a full-time academic adviser.
“We did interview other candidates, but she clearly stood out, and [Dean Don Heider] hired her,” Dr. Cooper-Gibson said. “I was very excited about that.”
Together, Dr. Cooper-Gibson and Fraser advise about 800 students in the School of Communication. On average, she meets with two to six students a day, advising on topics ranging from choosing a major to graduation requirements.
“She does almost everything I do,” Dr. Cooper-Gibson said. “From approving study abroad courses, doing transfer and freshman orientation presentations, or rigorously looking at each of the communication students’ academic curriculum.”
According to Dr. Cooper-Gibson, Fraser is an amazing person who embodies what Loyola looks for in an employee who works with students. She’s enjoyed working with her in the past year, and looks forward to continuing to share the joys and responsibilities of academic advising.
Sarah Lanning, a junior, met with Fraser when she decided to transfer into the School of Communication.
“I met with Kat primarily to make sure my classes aligned with my intended major,” Lanning said. “I found Kat to be incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. So much so that I met with her again to create a two-year plan and to discuss my education and career options after I graduate. I really enjoyed working with her, and I would love to work with her again in the future.”
Morgan Christian, a junior journalism major, said she thinks Fraser is somebody any student would love to work with. She got to know Fraser while working at the School of Communication’s front desk, but she’s also gone to her as an advisee.
“I was in the honors program, but I got to a point where I asked myself, ‘Do I still want to do this? How am I going to balance the honors program with getting more involved with The Phoenix or more work experience?’” she said. “I went in and talked to her about that, and she was able to help me with dropping from the honors program while still making sure I was meeting all my requirements to graduate.”
Christian said it also helps working with a recent graduate, as it means she’s friendly and relatable to the undergraduate population. Her office is a safe space, and talking with her is always a positive experience.
“Whether you’re with [Fraser], Dr. Cooper-Gibson or Professor [John] Slania, they’re all great people, and I think she’s a great addition to that team,” she said. “I think they all work very well together.”
When she worked with students as a graduate student herself, Fraser recalls how going to class one night and showing up for work the next morning factored into her advising.
“I definitely felt like I was more present in my advising,” she said. “My technique wasn’t differing from one day to the next, but I would have new understandings of how I spoke with students, or how I answered their questions or gave advice and guidance.
Now, in her new role, if she could speak with every student, Fraser said she’d say it’s all right if they don’t know what they want to do upon graduating from college.
“I think there’s this notion that college is a pathway to a job, which for most students it definitely is,” she said. “But I like to think of college as it used to be—as an enriching experience, a chance to gain knowledge and a time to learn for learning’s sake.”
Many students come to her looking for advice on how to better themselves and take their success to the next level. But, she said that creates pressure on students to know what exactly their next level is.
“And what students don’t understand is that the job you have out of college isn’t going to determine your entire career path,” Fraser said. “It doesn’t have to and most likely won’t. It might take a few years to figure out what you want. It might take 10. It might take 20.”
So she encourages students to take advantage of the college experience. Students should take a variety of classes, study abroad and become involved with different student organizations and activities.
“Try new things because you never know when those things will help you later on in a different career, or you might find something you’re passionate about, and while you might not be able to pursue it right away, you can always pursue it later in life,” she said. “I wish students can just slow down and take it easy and realize that, ‘Yes we want you to get a job after you graduate. But you don’t have to figure out your whole life at the age of 22.’”