Advising Students in a Challenging Time
Most undergraduate students encounter staff member and Undergraduate Advisor Erica Evilla at the School of Music, where she has already made a positive impact on many students since joining the School of Music community two years ago. It has been a challenging time to advise students, but Evilla has enriched and grown the undergraduate advising program with fresh insights, new strategies and, most of all, a strong rapport with her students.
Evilla started her education at Minnesota State University Moorhead, earning a bachelor of music in music industry with an emphasis in music business. In school, her primary instrument was piano and her secondary was voice. She took classes in topics such as copyright infringement, intellectual property, artist management, and promotion. Evilla noted that her educational experience was very male-centered, she was the only female-identifying person in her graduating class. Her focus turned to advising when she was in graduate school. Evilla completed an academic advising seminar course where she got the opportunity to shadow an advisor and fell in love with the field. Since then she’s been advising in some form for over seven years.
Every day in advising is different for Evilla. While there are always emails and phone calls, the rest of her day is filled with anything from student appointments to administrative work. Evilla also makes time for professional development with the Department Advisor Group, training sessions, and Mental Health Advocates. She believes that professional development is important to keep up with the ever-changing student culture.
Another part of Evilla’s job is advising non-major students who wish to join a School of Music class for the first time. Several courses, like campus ensembles for band, orchestra, and choir, act as a gateway into the School of Music. Evilla can help students fine-tune their schedule so that their education can be enriched with the balance that music courses can provide. She recommends students check out world music due to the interesting content and accessibility of the course.
Scheduling is the most challenging part of Evilla’s job. The balance between making sure faculty, students, and CLA have everything they need, along with a constantly changing modality and timeline provide a challenge in making sure the machine runs smoothly.
Being away from the office has been the hardest part of adjusting to working from home. Evilla misses being around her advisees, but she finds the Zoom meetings with them to be a very rewarding part of her day. Evilla is proud of her students for persisting and giving it their all this semester. When students come to her for advice on studying, she recommends strategies to work on time management, motivation, and avoiding burnout. She wants to make sure that everyone is “feeling their best and performing at the best of their ability in the middle of a pandemic.”
To any students interested in the advising career path, Evilla recommends looking at professional graduate programs in social work, student affairs, or counseling. She noted that knowing student development theory, current issues within higher education, and mental health all play a huge role in her day-to-day work. “Getting that foundation will offer the space for someone to grow and work on many different skill sets to set them up for success in the field.”
Evilla can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a current student interested in learning more about our campus ensembles, non-major courses, or joining one of our programs, we recommend reaching out to her for all questions. You can also learn more on our website.