Getting to know some of your Pack Advisors, their main goals and recent updates.

The Ledger got a chance to speak with two Pack Advisors, Jai’Shon Berry and Jake Shroud, along with the New Student Success Specialist, Monika Delfierro. We were able to learn about their duties on campus, how they’re serving the UW Tacoma community and changes they’ve recently undergone to comply with campus regulations during the pandemic. 

Currently comprised of eight advisors, incoming students are randomly assigned to one of the four packs — Purple, Gold, Grey or Black — and before the school year starts, their respective advisor will send a welcome email letting them know that they’re a resource available to them if needed. 

Since the beginning of COVID, involvement has looked a bit different this year. Instead of being readily available on campus, they’ve been required to shift their approach to online platforms. 

“A vast amount of our interactions with the students have been over the internet. Calls, emails, virtual interactions. The only exception was one this event where we were giving out welcome baskets and were giving out student IDs,” Shroud said.

But before they can direct students and answer questions directly, all advisors undergo training over the summer. 

“We’re trained both in customer service as well as meeting with all of the different campus resources. So, meeting with the academic advisors and CAPS and financial aid and the MRC so we can help to point students in their direction or we can give them basic information,” Berry said.  

The primary resource the advisors provide for students takes the form of directory services. 

“It’s like a Google, if you will. Like when someone asks, ‘Where do I go to get this?’ or ‘How do I do this?’ and so on and so forth … As pack advisors the resources we give if, if any, would be knowledge,” said Shroud. “If you have questions about [something], talk to the student advisors. We will give [you] their number or email.”

Moreover, advisors aren’t just here for surface-level interactions and the provision of basic information. As Delfierro pointed out, “The pack advisors also give a sense of just connection and community as current students. I think that’s one thing that I really love seeing this team … just seeing the way that they can make students feel so welcome coming in their first quarter.”

As Jai’Shon mentioned, the transition from in-person events and connections to virtual ones was tough at first but this doesn’t mean that their work has been any less meaningful. 

“I’ve honestly seen a lot more traffic with students,” Berry said. “When we were on campus. I feel like students could generally just walk to up to another student and just ask them, but now that they don’t have that face to face interaction every day, or every other day depending on what their class schedule is, they’re needing us more and more for those different resources and to help them get those connections with other students.”

Since UWT is primarily a commuter campus, another one of the Pack Advisors’ main goals is to foster a sense of community on the small campus we have. 

“Especially breaking the students out into smaller cohorts, because doing that I feel like it makes them feel like they’re a part of something … I definitely think it helps to create that sense of belonging, that sense of community on campus, especially for students who are just coming into college,” said Berry. 

As far as changes to come in the future, following the strides they’ve made to become virtual, Delfierro pointed out that they’re going to continue their work online while remaining adaptable and flexible until it is safe to return to campus.

If you need questions answered or someone to talk to, visit their website at www.tacoma.uw.edu/uwt/newstudents/pack-advisors or utilize their office hours Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and Friday from 12:00-5:00 p.m.

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