Western recognizes Chris Ramsey for advising work

Steven Barnum , News editor

Chris Ramsey was named academic advisor of the month at Western IllinoisUniversity.

Ramsey has worked at Western for the last 29 years. She started as an accounting clerk in Sherman Hall, moved into a bill collector position in the billing receivables office and then became the director of advising. Currently, she is a full-time academic advisor for the College of Business and Technology.

As an advisor, Ramsey is able to spend time with students and help them navigate their way through their college experience. She also holds the responsibility of making sure that they are on track to earn adegree efficiently.

“I want to see all of my students cross the line,” Ramsey said. “I want to make sure that they are achieving their goals. Helping them find their niche and helping them find what lights a fire in them is rewarding. It makes you want to come into work every day. The students are what makes the job fun.”

Several students nominated Ramsey for the advisor of the month award, which is something that she takes pride in. She talked about a recent transfer student who was pleased with her due diligence when finding him a cost-effective pathto graduation.

“It was a challenge and a little extra leg work,” Ramsey said, “but I think that he really appreciated that effort.”

Another student is currently interning in Washington, D.C. thanks to an email offer that Ramsey sent to all of her students. Ramsey routinely keep students up to date on similar opportunities when it comes to internships, jobs or reminders about FAFSA. She doesn’t consider email to be for instant messaging, but she thinks that it’s still an effective communication tool when it comes looking after the interests of her students.

Ramsey’s interest in her students’ well-being doesn’t end after they are done enrolling for their final semester of college. She said that she enjoys meeting their family at their graduation and following their careers on LinkedIn.

“It’s truly a joy to see how well they are doing,” Ramsey said. “I want to see them succeed so I love staying in touch with them. That’s what helps makes advising the best job ever.”

The advising role often presents challenges. Many students who come into Ramsey’s office are undecided in the career path that they want to take. Ramsey seeks to find a diverse combination of classes for those students so that they gain exposure to find an interest. Above all else, she said that an advisor always has to be able to listen to students.

“Not everybody is a planner so empowering students to make informed and beneficial decisions is a big part of the job,” she said. “I always tell students that there are a lot of ways to get to Chicago – I’m mapping out the directions for them, but they’re driving. It doesn’t matter how they get there as long as they get there.”

Like many faculty and staff members at Western, Ramsey is disappointed to see the recent enrollment decline that has led to layoffs and financial instability. She said that Western may take a lot of the blame for the problems, but that the university is not alone.

“It’s not just Western,” Ramsey said. “It’s all institutions in Illinois. The state has to do something to prevent students from leaving. It’s a tough time in higher education in Illinois right now, but this is just a bump in the road. We’ll get back up and dust ourselves off. What sets Western apart is that we have so many people willing to go that extra mile.”

Ramsey said that she knows Western has programs that are good enough to get students jobs and that the university’s plan to unveil a new scholarship opportunity in the fall will help.

She finds meaning in Pablo Picasso’s quote, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” She said that it highlights her personal philosophy of giving back and offering help whenever you can.

“You have to give to receive. I like to think that I give to my students,” she said. “I like to think that my gift has been advising and I have really enjoyed it.”