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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Online Student Advisor reaches out

December 17, 2013
This Online Campus faculty member does her best to remove the distance between student and advisor.

Is a Student Advisor for an online program meant to be just a title, a distant and aloof figure that merely sends an email every few months? Well, Tekla Patton does not think so.

As a student advisor for the SJVC Online Campus, Tekla is there for her students. When they have questions, she can answer them. When they need a little nudge to stay on track, in line with program requirements and on top of their grades, students look to her. If a student needs tutoring, she is the one to go to.

Thanks to the nature of online programs, her students can be local, or in places very distant. SJVC’s Online Students do their coursework from places as far away as New York, and there are even a few students out of country, whether they are American military deployed overseas or otherwise. And yet, despite the many miles separating Visalia and these many places, Tekla is there to help.

“It’s really cool to reach out to students,” says Tekla.

Her duties also include preparing those newly enrolled in the program with student orientation.

Though Tekla has been working for SJVC for two and a half years, her history in the education sector is longer still. First, she was an academic advisor at Bakersfield College. After moving to Visalia, she was hired at College of the Sequoias. Finally, she would join SJVC as Student Center Coordinator.

But Tekla has a special qualification for her position: her own educational background. A Master’s Degree in Counseling allows her to reach out to students even more in her position. Beyond simply keeping students up to date with steps to graduation, she can work with them more closely, and in a more personal capacity.

Her care and understanding are lifesavers for students in times of crisis. She is not merely their advisor, but a friend. If difficulties arise in students’ lives, Tekla can help.

“She knows the students for who they are,” says Online Campus Dean of Student Services Alyssa Perry.

Unsurprisingly, her students like her. Her optimism is comforting. They say she is involved, genuinely interested in their lives, and concerned for their problems. When they talk, their conversations are not limited to the topics of SJVC and the program. She is even Facebook friends with them.

But Tekla is hardly content to perform the duties of her position, as well as she does. She serves beyond the call, being a member of both SJVC’s Holiday Planning and Diversity Committees. To fund the Online Campus holiday party, she auctioned off festive baskets.

She always knew she wanted to teach in some way, to help people, and this is just the way she does it.

As for her future, Tekla is pretty happy where she is.

“I don’t see myself going anywhere anytime soon.”