Bronco Spotlight: Dannielle Curtis

Photo of Dannielle Curtis

Bachelor of Arts, 2013; Master of Arts in educational leadership, 2015; Master of Arts in teaching English to speakers of other languages, 2018

Current Job Title:

Academic Advisor 

Current Employer:

University of North Carolina at Charlotte 

Describe your current job:

In my current position I am responsible for providing educational guidance and assistance to all Electrical and Computer Engineering students at UNC Charlotte. This position allows me to do targeted and intrusive advising for at-risk students. I act as a support for students to assist with their growth and development while constructing meaningful educational plans that are compatible with their life and career goals. 

What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is that I get the pleasure of being a part of my student's educational journey. I am able to build amazing relationships with my students and learn so much from them. My students truly make me a better and more patient person. I love to be able to see my students grow and achieve their goals. It's an honor to watch and be a listening ear when needed. The most challenging part of my job is enforcing curriculum standards even when I know it could delay a student’s graduation. It can be difficult to be the gatekeeper because sometimes it means you have to be the bad guy. 

What experiences impacted the choice of your career path?

Being a part of the TRiO FESP program as an undergraduate student helped me decide what career I wanted to pursue. During my undergraduate years, I was a student that faced many hardships and struggled to make it through semesters. TRiO FESP welcomed me in, gave me a job and believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. They provided me with support and most importantly they genuinely cared about who I was as a person. Being a part of that program saved me. I would not have made it through undergrad without their guidance and support. I was in disbelief when I graduated from undergrad. From that moment on I wanted to be like them and pay it forward. Two masters degrees later, I not only believe in myself but I believe I can be of help students. I strive to help support, empower and advocate for students that might not yet have developed those skills. I want to be the person that students can look back and say she supported me and she believed in me. 

What advice do you have for students looking for their career after college? 

In order to be successful in higher education you must be willing to do the work. To deal with the long busy days, the days your students get mad at you and the days in which you have to repeat yourself ten times. You must be flexible and transparent. A mutual respect between you and your students is necessary in order to build safe and trusting relationships. It's hard to truly help students when you don't have a trusting relationship with them. Also, you have to start somewhere. You might not get your dream job in higher education at first but once you break into higher education it is pretty easy to move around. I started my career in higher education with an entry level position as an office assistant in the Registrar's Office. After one and a half years in that position I was able to easily transition into a full-time academic advisor, which was the beginning of my path to my dream job. Earning a master’s degree in higher education or something close to it is necessary to make yourself marketable. Nowadays most academic advisors are required to have a master’s degrees. And lastly, be patient. Higher education is slow moving. Be patient with yourself and your institution. This job is not about immediate gratification but more about long term success and fulfillment. 

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