Posted Dec. 10, 2019 — As an undergraduate advisor at the University of Houston College of Education, Stephanie Martinez encourages students to remain determined, especially if they’re struggling.
She understands that transitioning to college can be challenging. During her own freshman year, she ended up on academic probation. But with the help of an academic advisor and mentor, she finished her degree at UH strong, graduating from the College with a bachelor’s in human development and family studies.
Now, she draws on her past to provide practical, relatable advice to students.
Walk through a day in Martinez’s life and learn why she loves being an advisor in the Q&A below.
How did you get your start in academic advising at the College?
I’ve been an advisor since April, but I’ve been at the College for three years. I did my practicum and internship in the office. I graduated in December of 2018 but came back to volunteer and ultimately, I got this position.
What does a typical day as an academic advisor look like?
I see student appointments every 30 minutes. I’m usually responding to emails as well, enrolling students in their courses and answering questions about requests, petitions or processing papers.
What do you love about academic advising?
My favorite thing is helping students who didn’t think they could ever get help. I’ll have some students come in and I can pick up something is wrong. I’ll walk the problem through with them, step-by-step, telling them what to do and how to get around it. I try to be of aid as much as possible.
Were you ever that student yourself?
Yes. I flunked out of my first university. I was on academic probation and lost my scholarship. The next year, I went back home and enrolled in a community college while I tried to figure my life out. The following semester, I came here and told myself I was going to make it.
Was there an advisor who helped you navigate those difficulties?
I would try to reach out and it seemed like there wasn’t opportunity for help. That all changed when I got here. My advisor, Laura Lee, who is now my co-worker, helped me get through a lot and opened so many doors for me.
Since you were a student here, what were the best study areas on campus?
I used to study a lot in Student Center North in front of Coog Radio. My friends and I would stop by Student Center South, get some food and head upstairs in Student Center North to sit in one of the couches. There’d be nobody there and my friends and I could eat, talk and study in silence.
Talking about food: Houston is a very popular hotspot for food. Would you consider yourself a foodie?
I’m a big foodie. I’m from Killeen, Texas, and growing up, my mom and I were very picky, so I didn’t have the best palette. Being here, going out to eat is one of my favorite things to do. I like to visit Jinya, Shabu Zone, Korea House and Gyu-Kaku.
What are your plans for the holiday season?
I’m going to Mexico to visit my family in Monterrey, who I haven’t seen in over a year.
— By Alberto Huichapa