While students spent Reading Week catching up on their studies, York University’s advising community had an opportunity to invest in their professional development at the fourth annual YUAdvise Conference on Feb. 21 and 22 in Lassonde’s Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence.
The conference enables the advising community at York to recognize their achievements and collaboratively pave the way toward professional development and service excellence.
Advisors came together for a day and a half of activities that focused on self-care through a series of workshops designed to boost productivity, resilience and general well-being. The community also revisited key milestones that have helped to shape the practice of advising over the years and discussed the future direction of advising at York.
The first day opened with a group workshop where attendees reflected on the importance of holistic student advising. Advisors focused on ways to increase and enhance collaboration to simplify the complexity of inter-faculty double majors and major/minors for students.
In between some fruitful working sessions on enhancing the practice of advising, attendees had the opportunity to look within for self-care. A keynote address on resilience delivered by Marc Wilchesky, executive director, Counselling & Disability Services, focused on learning effective methods for harnessing inner strength and resources to rebound more quickly from setbacks. Following Wilchesky’s session, Counselling Supervisor Scott Pope delivered an interactive workshop designed to help recognize early signs of stress and discussed how to use mindfulness to reduce stress through the power of deep breathing and positive thoughts.
“The academic advisors were engaged in a variety of activities that accentuated the importance of self-care, building resilience, mindfulness, community building, strategic planning and action, and much more,” said Mary Riccardi, an advisor from the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) specializing in petitions. “These essential tools are needed in achieving a holistic self and serve as a segue to better servicing our students and the York community.”
Lesley Valiente, an academic advisor from Glendon Campus, shared her thoughts on the conference.
“As academic advisors, we do our best to support the mental well-being of our students,” she said. “It was nice to take a day and a half to reflect on our own well-being, to practise meditation and to discuss ways to build resiliency. I look forward to incorporating more self-care practices in my day-to-day routine.”
During the afternoon, York graduate student Alicia Koebel, a level-one precision nutrition coach and exercise physiologist, facilitated a session on nutrition and well-being. She focused on how whole foods combined with healthy exercise habits can be positively transformational, and emphasized the importance of cultural considerations in diet, as well as individual preferences, lifestyle and overall fitness goals.
York’s Athletics & Recreation team supported the conference by arranging most of the afternoon activities, including engaging YogaFit master trainer Christine Yanke, who shared her inspirational story of resilience and overcoming adversity through self-care.
Advisors returned the next day to reflect on milestones that have shaped the practice of advising, as well as discuss a number of key initiatives that aim to enhance both the student experience and advisors’ capacity to deliver service through accuracy, accountability, timeliness/accessibility and care.
“This conference was unique from other professional development initiatives because it focused on advisors’ self-care from a holistic perspective – engaging us mentally, physically and spiritually. It was a vibrant experience,” said Anita Ramjattan, academic advisor for the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS).