Twelve Advisers Awarded Sixth Annual Star Family Prize

The Advising Programs Office has recognized 12 academic advisers at the College for providing students “exemplary intellectual and personal guidance” in the sixth year of the Star Family Prizes for Excellence in Advising.

Established by alumnus James A. Star ’83, the Star Family Prizes for Excellence in Advising annually lauds three advisers in each of four categories: freshman, sophomore, concentration, and faculty advising.

In early February, the Advising Programs Office sent emails to undergraduates inviting students to nominate their advisers. The nomination process involved completing an application with short questions about their advising experiences.

Many of the prize-winners, who range from formal advisers to instructors who advise in an informal setting, said they were grateful that their advisees feel academically supported.

Morgan D. Price ’20 nominated Classics professor Richard F. Thomas, praising him for his individualized approach to advising.

“I think it is really interesting that he advisees each of us on an individual basis so we’ll talk about how classes are going, how life is going and there's not a set line of you are all doing this or you are all doing well,” Price said.

Thomas said he strives to encourage students students to try new things and discover their own academic interests.

Other award-winning advisers, like Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education Stephanie H. Kenen, emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

“One of biggest things about coming to Harvard is that it is a very intense peer culture. And helping students to stay focused on who they are and what they are interested in and the kinds of things that they as individuals need to try,” Kenen said.

“A lot of the advice I try to give students in the first year is to definitely keep exploring that side of your identities and think about ways to keep yourself sane and healthy,” agreed freshman adviser and proctor Jonathan L. Rossi.

Some advisers fondly reflected on their experience advising students and said they saw their advising roles extending beyond purely academics.

“I really work to keep in mind that our interaction with the student, between myself and that student, is not just about class,” Jerusha T. Achterberg, an Expos preceptor, said. “It’s easy to act as though when we are in class you only talk about class things but all of us, all people, have other things going on in their lives.”

This year’s freshman advising award winners are Kenen, Rossi, and Thomas.

Sophomore advising award winners are History and Literature Lecturer Lauren Brandt, Cabot House Tutor Bethany Kibler, and Mather House Tutor Naseem Surhio.

Concentration advising award winners are Allston Burr Assistant Dean of Lowell House Caitlin Casey, Preceptor in Chemistry and Chemical Biology Grace Ferris, and Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor in Contemporary Islamic Thought and Life Malika Zeghal.

Faculty advising award winners are Achterberg, Computer Science professor Eddie Kohler, and History professor Emma Rothschild.

The winners will be honored at the award ceremony in May.

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