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March 2023 | Lori Armstrong, Ferris State University

 The MIACADA Spotlight this month features seasoned advisor, Lori   Armstrong, from Ferris State University. Lori has been advising   students for over 23 years in various capacities. Despite her   accolades and accomplishments, it is her desire to connect with   others that makes her stand out amongst the MIACADA   membership population.

 Like many advising professionals, Lori came into academic advising   somewhat by happenstance. As a nontraditional learner starting   college in her 30s, she attended Ferris State University looking for   opportunities to expand her earning potential and advance in her   career. She started as a part time assistant in the president’s office   while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication. Her   exemplary performance and impact on students continued to lead   her to other similar roles in the Golf Management program, and   eventually into more of an advising capacity with the Music   Industry Management program and now with the Management   department in the College of Business. She earned her master’s   degree in Career and Technical Education thinking maybe she’d get   into teaching one day. Despite all she had previously been doing to   support students working toward their degrees, it wasn’t until   2015 that she was granted the official title of “Academic Advisor”   when her position in the Management department became part of Ferris State’s professional advising group. Later that fall Lori attended her first annual NACADA conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, and since then her contributions to the organization and field of advising have continued to grow.

After attending the 2015 annual NACADA conference, Lori came away with eyes opened to the vast network of other professionals across the country doing similar work. She understood the importance of relationship building, networking and mentorship which have continued to shape her career and involvement in NACADA/MIACADA. In 2017 Ferris State University hosted the statewide MIACADA Conference and Lori served as organizer of the networking mixer the night before the event, and member of the hospitality committee for the event. This led to her getting more involved in the regional NACADA conferences which have been some of her favorite opportunities to connect on a smaller scale with individuals from surrounding states and Canada. She always makes a point to volunteer at these conferences, enjoying a moderator role which allows her to still listen and learn from the engaging sessions and participate in mentorship opportunities when available.

One of the challenges she’s faced in her time as an academic advisor has been finding the balance of what it looks like to go above and beyond in her role while also knowing her own capacity. Like many others, she has sometimes felt overwhelmed with the demands of a large caseload, teaching requirements, and miscellaneous administrative tasks. She stated, “When you like what you do and you’re good at it, it can be hard not to overcommit and overwork yourself, but burnout can happen if you’re not careful.” When asked what she has found to be helpful in situations like this, Lori mentioned having a supportive network around her to help keep her accountable, find ways to alleviate her load, and check in on her wellbeing. Her supervisors and colleagues at Ferris State have been tremendous and have given her the responsibility and freedom to grow while supporting her along the way. She also finds great benefit in participating in NACADA/MIACADA, bouncing ideas and initiatives off other advisors from different schools struggling with both similar and different issues. The opportunity for such meaningful relationships with students, faculty and staff has attributed to her long-time commitment to the field of advising and made it a rewarding profession.

When asked what advice she could share with young professionals or those new to the field of academic advising Lori commented that depending on your institution, you may or may not have a formal training program as a new advisor. She herself had more of an informal onboarding experience and learned a lot on the job. As a result, she has come to cherish organizations such as MIACADA and NACADA that offer resources and opportunities to connect with others in the field. She has made it a personal priority to help assist those who are new to higher education or new to advising at Ferris State University and encourages everyone to challenge themselves to grow and get more involved. She and another colleague help facilitate a monthly meeting for advisors at Ferris State where they can collaborate and work together. They incorporate guest speakers, resources, and best practices to challenge and support one another. Whether it be something at your institution, the state level, or even nationally, Lori highly recommends connecting with others who are performing similar roles. Finding a way to spend time with them, collaborate, bounce ideas off each other, and share formal language can help you improve in your practice. While connecting with others may seem intimidating at first, Lori has found that most advisors share a helping mindset, are good communicators, and are willing to collaborate and share.

To learn more or connect with Lori – find her at the MIACADA Conference in Kalamazoo in May! You can also reach out to her individually by email at


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