Staff Spotlight: Tracy Holloway, CIS Senior Academic Counselor
For our latest Spotlight, a new CIS Snapshot feature profiling our faculty and staff in the College of International Studies, the CIS Snapshot spoke with Tracy Holloway, Senior Academic Counselor in the Department of International & Area Studies, who has been with the College of International Studies since 2008, when it was still housed in the College of Arts and Sciences. Tracy has been an asset to the College ever since, guiding our students through the ups and downs of their college careers. We asked Tracy about her role in CIS, her personal journey and her advice for students at this difficult time.
Can you tell me a little bit about what your job as Senior Academic Counselor in CIS entails? What role do advisors play in the college?
Our College's advising structure is unique, as students see professional academic advisors (Malin and Katie) each semester to help them choose classes and stay on track, add other credentials, and answer questions about the degrees or classes. My role comes in depending on the student. I meet with every undergraduate student the semester before they graduate to be sure they aren't missing any requirements and to discuss the timeline for graduation. We then meet once more during their last semester to go back over everything and specifically to discuss our College's convocation ceremony and other senior award receptions, which I organize. Before their final semesters, I may meet with students who are struggling academically, need assistance with petitions or waivers, or who are new transfer students from other universities. We hope students get to know their IAS advisors and learn they can come to us for help and questions.
Tell us a little about your background. What was your path to becoming an academic counselor in CIS?
I started at OU and never left! I was a student worker in various OU positions before graduating with my Bachelor's degree in Psychology in 2000, started a job in the College of Arts and Sciences the Monday after graduation, and then worked my way up into an advising position in CAS. I then moved to CIS (then named International Programs) in 2008 when our majors split from CAS, so I've been here from the beginning of the CIS academic journey. Along the way, I've finished a master's degree and served in various advising leadership positions across campus. I never graduated with the intention to become an academic counselor, but am so thankful I fell into it — it's a great fit for me.
What do you like most about advising, and what is unique or enjoyable about working in CIS specifically?
The wonderful thing about CIS advising is that the three of us work well together and communicate regularly, which benefits our students. Our student ratio is low, which allows more personalized attention, and all of us have been in our respective positions for years, allowing for lots of institutional knowledge. Academic Advising is a well-established career with international organizational support and training. OU, in particular, has a wonderful structure and support system for advising.
How have advisors in CIS been navigating the pandemic? What advice do you have for students to get the most out of their education, stay motivated, and find direction during this time?
We miss our students! It's just not the same seeing them through Zoom, so we look forward to time in the office again. I really miss convocation and celebrating with the students, it's my favorite part of my job. My advice for students at any time, but particularly during this stressful time, is to allow for change. I'm a planner and hate when things are out of my control, but it's a necessary part of life. A dream job likely won't fall into your lap, so take advantage of any little opportunity to network, work hard, and be kind throughout college — you never know who is listening or who makes the decisions. Listen to your advisors, ask questions and read your emails — if it comes from us, it's probably important!
Is there anything else you'd like to share about yourself — what you like to do in your spare time, etc.?
I'm quite a homebody, but do love a good vacation, especially on the beach. I'm a Disney nerd, love to watch and read about true crime, and I'm always looking for a new pet to add to the family. My husband and I will be empty-nesters next year because our only child, who is a senior in high school this year, has decided to go to OSU to earn her degree in wildlife biology. Guess I have to start liking orange!