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Natasha Long, the School’s Coordinator of Advising, wasn’t satisfied with ushering 1,300 students through a complicated advising system.
So in 2010, with faculty support, Long challenged the system and took the lead on an organizational makeover, transforming the assorted components into a dynamic student-centric advising system.
This undertaking of a major advising system overhaul is a direct reflection of the high-end quality work Long applies to her job on a daily basis. So when it comes to the student experience at the School of Mass Communications, the sky’s the limit, making it no surprise to those who know Long that she was named the 2012 recipient of the College of Humanities and Sciences Distinguished Advising Award.
“Natasha’s embracing of diversity, technology and innovation, her student-centric two-way communication style, as well as her creative and strategic planning and implementation of advising techniques, have made tremendous contributions to the student experience and success with the School, the College and the University,” said Dr. Yan Jin, the School’s interim director.
Long was first nominated by the School for the College’s prestigious Distinguished Advising Award. The School nomination was then submitted to the College for review, along with nominations from other schools and departments.
“The School is very proud of Natasha’s excellent advising service and its impact on student engagement and success,” said Jin. “She has inspired many people and touched many hearts that are eager to learn and explore the path to success and fulfillment.”
For Long, winning the College’s Distinguished Advising Award was more than an honor, but also a sign that she is moving in the right direction.
“I felt so honored and humbled when I found out that the School nominated me,” said Long.
“It rejuvenates you. Advising can be very in the moment, and you don’t always see your results until after the students have left. It gave me that spark, that I’m on the right path, so I can continue to come up with new creative ideas to solve our students’ problems and have the best student services for them.”
Her caring personality has moved her role as advising coordinator beyond the traditional job duties of processing class overrides and graduation applications to also providing students with encouragement and a listening ear for all who need it.
“With Natasha, you’re able to build a relationship that’s really helpful,” said Allen White, senior creative advertising student. “A lot of what I got out of advising was encouragement from Natasha. If you’re having a hard time with class or even something personal, she’s willing to talk with you about it, which is something that you don’t always find in people.”
Although Long started working at the School in 2007, her career as a student adviser began in 2003 as VCU’s Student-Athlete Academic Adviser after earning her Master of Education in Counselor Education.
“Advising is so encompassing,” said Long. “It’s more than advising [about classes]. You give the students philosophical and life advice. I’m like their one-on-one life teacher, and that’s the fun part of my job.”
Chad Woods, creative advertising senior and former peer adviser for the School, couldn’t agree more that Long should be awarded the College’s Distinguished Advising Award.
“Natasha has a willingness to always go that extra mile for students,” said Woods. “Her vested interest, her caring personality and her knowledge of all the Mass Comm sequences all make her the best adviser.”