Theresa Costa Receives Walker Award for Outstanding Service to Students
University of California, Davis
July 9, 2008
When students need advice on whether they should take “Agroforestry: Global and Local Perspectives” or “Applied Bioinformatics,” Theresa Costa is there to help. An undergraduate advisor in the Department of Plant Sciences, Costa was recently honored for her service to students when she received the Walker Award for Outstanding Academic Staff Advisor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Recipients of the Walker Award are nominated by the students they advise. A Dean’s Office committee makes the final selection from a pool of nominees.
A UC Davis graduate, Costa began her career in advising while she was still a student. She learned general information about the university in her job as a resident advisor for two years. She also spent a year as a supervisor for resident assistants, helping them tackle the challenges of creating and facilitating community and assisting their peers. After completing her B.S. degree in genetics in 2005, Costa moved onto a job in her field in a Pennsylvania lab. Working in the lab helped Costa realize that her personality and skills were better suited toward a different career path.
Costa has been working as an academic staff advisor for two years. “My background is in genetics,” says Costa, “so helping students pick biological sciences classes comes naturally.” The learning curve has been a bit steeper in gathering knowledge about plant classes, since they differ from her area of expertise, but she learns as she goes. “But, the biggest challenge in this job is time management,” she says.
Interruptions fill a typical day in the life of a student advisor. E-mails and telephone calls, appointments and drop-ins, the day’s tasks come in many different forms. The most frequent question that Costa answers has to do with clarifying college requirements versus general education requirements. Students need guidance as they move from freshman year exploration to declaring a major to receiving their diplomas, and she spends a large part of her time helping them make sure they meet all their graduation requirements.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. “I was pleased to hear that Theresa was acknowledged for all her efforts associated with the Walker Award,” says plant sciences office manager Gloria Robles. “She truly is an exceptional staff advisor who is constantly balancing the day with advising students. Once a student herself, she blends that experience with ensuring that the teaching program within the department addresses the needs of the students and faculty.”
The Walker Award, established in 1991, is named for Harry Walker, an emeritus lecturer and advisor in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources. Each year, Harry and Eleanor Walker make a gift to support and encourage excellence in student advising. Recently, the Walkers decided to establish an endowment for the award to ensure it will be given in perpetuity.
— Elisabeth Kauffman, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 754-0321, email@example.com