Daniel Ruiz, Academic Adviser at Cal State LA’s College of Business and Economics, finds familiarity in the stories of the students that come and go. A graduate of East Carolina University, Ruiz began his college career as a history major, quickly faced with the question of what to do with his degree while sensing the pressure to achieve as a first-generation college student.
Taking initiative within his position as Resident Assistant, Ruiz approached his then manager about job opportunities, and was able to secure a position in the campus living offices. It was here that he discovered invaluable mentorship and support. Ruiz reflects that “without these people (he) wouldn’t have pursued psychology,” which was the major he ultimately chose, and what he was truly interested in.
This positive and impactful office experience inspired much of Ruiz’s next steps in career. It is what moved him to pursue positions within higher education, starting with a job at Whittier College where he was able to work closely within his own community. “(Advising) is not just a job for me, it’s something I am passionate about inside and outside of the office,” he states. Ruiz outlines the importance of connecting with students on a personal level, “and act as a support system for those that might not have it at home or within their community.” He sees himself in first generation students; his joy in being a pillar of support for them is evident.
Ruiz encourages students to take advantage of the resource they have in Advisement early on. “CBE takes a holistic approach to advising, taking into consideration one’s background, academic and personal career goals,” Ruiz says. While it’s often believed that Advisement simply lists out the classes students should take in a brief exchange, Ruiz explains that this is far from his department’s intent, and that future planning should be a thoughtful process as a team.
“Students are meant to feel connected to the institution and supported in reaching their own goals,” Ruiz continues, explaining the importance of identifying personal and social challenges when balancing one’s coursework and mental health. Although Ruiz is not a career Adviser, he is able to assist in informed decision-making on the student journey, and points students to where they can receive that type of support, as well as who to best network with.
One story Ruiz shares as an example of the importance of Advisement is that of John, a transfer student, full-time worker, and parent, struggling to balance academic and personal responsibilities, and strongly considering ending his attendance. Ruiz met with John several times to create a customized plan of approach addressing responsibilities with efficiency. Each semester they met together, and it is with Ruiz’s help that John joined evening classes, connected with tutoring and childcare services, and secured a Pell Grant which resulted in a timely graduation before his projected graduation date. John was able to secure an internship and afterward a job that would improve his family’s life moving forward. In Ruiz’s opinion, it is stories like these that inspire the path to Advisement.
To get in touch with Advisement, Ruiz recommends following CBE social media platforms to stay in the know for the latest information. Students are assigned Advisers upon acceptance, with the most common way to get in touch being 30 minute appointments, available by Zoom or in-person. Same day appointments are also available Monday through Thursday 3-5 PM for added convenience while students are on campus attending class. If an Adviser cannot answer a student’s question, they will either schedule a follow-up appointment or refer them to someone who can. It is also suggested that students attend one of many academic workshops offering guidance on topics like how to complete graduate applications.