The Academic Peer Advisors: One Ship, Two Ship

The first ship is a friendship. The second is an internship. You don’t know which to choose. Well, what if I tell you that you can not only have one ship, but two ships, both at once?

Though it was a spur of the moment decision I can say with 100% confidence that joining the Academic Peer Advisors (aka the APAs) was also one of the best decisions I’ve made here at Stony Brook. 

Never heard of them? Well here’s where I lecture you on how you have to drop by the Academic and Transfer Advising Services office at least once before you graduate. Of course, telling someone to go see an advisor is often easier said than done. I acknowledge that, but I have also realized the importance and value of what just one visit can do to calm your nerves and put you on the right track. I can’t tell you how many students have come in at the very last minute or even worse way past the deadline (no really I can’t, I signed a confidentiality form). And I get it, we are all busy students just trying to get by. Coming into the office or better yet becoming a part of the office, however, will prove to make the process infinitely easier and much more rewarding. 16216010_10206057285991033_2106403648_n.jpgFirst off, don’t let the name mislead you. Our office is not just for transfer students. While it is true that we specialize in helping them to transition to Stony Brook, to say that it is our sole purpose does not even cover the least of it. But don’t just take my word for it! I’ve asked for the help of both my fellow APAs as well as the advisors themselves to explain what it is that we do and why we do it.

What is it that we do?

In terms of being an APA, we are first and foremost a resource for students. We are quite literally the faces you see at the front desk, the helping hand you get whilst navigating solar, the shoulder to lean on as teaching assistants for ADV101 (course offered to new transfers). In directly helping the students we are also helping the advisors.

Advisor Brandon: "APAs provide a student’s perspective."

Advisor Jennifer: "They serve as role models."

Advisor Jackie: "They are the face of the office; the first point of contact."

And that’s the whole idea, that in this school of over 20,000 students you are not alone, rather you are surrounded by passionate peers and attentive advisors. 14442814_1795670424043746_1467203514_n.jpgWhat is it that advisors do?

Advisor Brandon: "We’re a conduit for the rest of the university..."

Advisor Jennifer: "helping students to solve their own problems by clarifying their questions, providing suggestions, and helping them reach well-informed decisions."

Advisor Jackie: "The ultimate goal is to provide a listening ear and aid students in navigating their journey here at Stony Brook."

This all sounds pretty overwhelming and in the beginning, it is. Believe me, becoming an APA (as well as an advisor) is undoubtedly a big responsibility, but you must also trust me when I say that it reaps far greater rewards in the long run.

We may have all ended up in the same place, but we are all driven by different motivations.

APA Tim: "After freshman year I had a desire to become more involved on campus in a meaningful way. I saw this as an opportunity… to practice public speaking, leadership, and teaching skills."

APA Mengni: "I wanted to have experience working in an office and to practice my English."

APA Jakub: "It was something completely out of my comfort zone."

Advisor Diane: "I became an advisor because I wanted to be the person I never had back in college. [Having been both an APA and student assistant previously] I was inspired to be an advisor by the mentors and advisors I met here at ATAS." 15058506_1654255474600722_475476690_n.jpg

What we got out of the internship was even more than we expected.

APA Kana: "In terms of professional working skills you expand your ability to work within a group, public speaking skills, ability to answer phone calls, and solve a variety of problems."

APA Karen: "You get the chance to know much more about Stony Brook."

APA Tim: "Through making new experiences and networking because the faculty members are also involved with other campus projects, it opens up opportunities outside of ATAS."

APA Jakub: "Everyday you come across someone new; helping you to appreciate someone else’s perspective, as well as the different concerns and issues students go through. This helps you to be aware of your own concerns, coming to an almost self-realization that everyone goes through something."

Advisor Brandon: "It’s a quasi-mentorship where you can gain insight into the inner workings of a professional work environment."

Advisor Diane: "It challenges you to grow in ways you didn’t even know you needed to; collaborating with both peers and faculty from diverse backgrounds."

16521960_10206135582148388_2037197328_n.jpgOur favorite things in particular?

APA Karen: "Getting the chance to know fellow APAs who have different interests, who are hardworking, and never fail to motivate you all the while having fun."

APA Mengni: "Having a group of best friends."

APA Jakub: "We each have our own unique strengths and weaknesses. It’s a humbling experience to reflect on how far all of us have come since the beginning of the internship."

Our favorite memories are hard to put into words but we’ll never forget.

APA Karen: "Going to campus events, getting coffee together, even front desk hours."

For some, though this may seem ironic considering the amount we complain about Family Weekend (despite those hundreds of tables, chairs, and goodness —the mums),

APA Tim: "This was the first major outreach event where I realized that the other APAs were more more than just mere interns I would be working with."

This doesn’t even include the hogging of photo booths, Just Dance sessions, getting temporary tattoos, and other amazing times we’ve shared!

Advisor Diane: "When I was an APA, I loved the feeling of really contributing to students’ success on Academic Advising Day. I’ve never been more proud to wear our t-shirt."

Advisor Brandon: "For me, it’s working with the students and witnessing their growths. There’s nothing like that 'aha!' moment when someone learns about something they never knew they could try before."  15403252_1083376955113217_1514556871_n.png

Even if you don’t decide to do this internship I hope that at the very least you have learned something. I leave you now with some advice from the office.

Advisor Mary Beth: "College is not a means to an end so have fun! Make friends! Choose a major you love and will be passionate about. Do not think strategically without putting yourself into the equation."

Something I always tell the students in ADV101 is that (and I’ll say it again) you are not alone. As a TA we try our best to connect to everyone; listening to the issues they face. The most common one is that they feel lost and disconnected in this sea of Stony Brook faces. So don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there; do what I did and join something! I mean there I was just trying to graduate as fast as possible and hoping to get rid of that EXP+ and yet here I am now, surrounded by people I have come to both respect and cherish. Whether it be to study, go to the gym, attend events, or even bake; I have found a family here.

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If I have in some way piqued your interest and you are hoping to learn more about this internship please drop by our office on the second floor of the Melville Library at E-2360 from Monday to Fridays from 9 AM-5 PM! The official deadline for applications is February 27th at 5 PM so be sure to come by as soon as possible!!

You may also contact Ellen Hopkins at [email protected]

The application can be found here! 

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