Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

On Campus

April 9, 2012

GSW’s Randall among top first-year advocates in nation

AMERICUS — Linda Randall, first-year advocate (FYA) at Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW), was recently one of only 140 FYAs in the U.S. nominated as an Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate — a distinction connected with the University of South Carolina’s National Resource Center for First-Year Experience and Student Transition.

“It was a pleasure nominating Linda,” said Brian Adler, Ph.D., vice president for Academic Affairs at GSW. “She has been tireless in her efforts to assist our students and has also worked with faculty and parents to ensure that our students are successful. She deserves this recognition.”

As a self-proclaimed “advocate,” Randall’s job supporting first-year students at Georgia Southwestern is only fitting. Randall says her entire life’s work has involved guiding, encouraging and challenging others to reach their greater potential.

“Engaging students from the very beginning in all aspects of the college experience is my personal and professional goal,” Randall said. “It is critical that we stay current and relevant to the world around us while making sure that students understand the value of history and traditions. This is a delicate balance, but key to a vibrant, dynamic college experience.”

In recognition of her good work, Randall’s name was listed on an honor roll of advocate nominees at the 31st Annual Conference on The First-Year Experience in San Antonio, Texas, in February.

In addition to regularly meeting with, advising and counseling students, part of her advocate role involves teaching up to three sections of GSW’s University 1000 first-semester college transition course each fall. Randall also helped create a new one-credit, second semester course called “Pathways to College Success” which was designed for students who end up on academic warning in their first semester.

Randall’s background includes work in the social service field and higher education. Her most recent social service position was a three-year stint as a director of a 90-plus bed homeless shelter in Springfield, Mass.

She earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in counseling from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. And as a first-generation college student, she understands the associated challenges.

“First generation families, those families for whom this student may be the first to graduate from college, send all of their hopes, dreams and aspirations with that child,” she said. “As a proud and vocal first-generation college graduate myself, I have seen the life-transforming power of higher education and celebrate this opportunity with our first generation students and their families.”

As Georgia Southwestern’s first-year advocate, Randall has the opportunity to see this “transforming power” day-in and day-out and is better for it.

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