Path to Academic Advising

Academic advisors are an integral part of university life. They welcome students, usher us through our degrees, and help prepare us for post grad life. Kanella Voudouris, or Nellie, as she’s known to most students, has worked in Dawson Hall since working on her master’s degree. At Arts OASIS, Nellie runs the peer advising program where she selects, trains, and mentors students; manages the arts interdisciplinary program; organizes student outreach events: such as, Open House, Parents’ Tent, Discover McGill, and so on and so forth; as well as has her regular advising responsibilities. She is also always present at arts convocation. Her many roles allow her to see the student life cycle—first meeting students from admissions and working with them until they graduate. Her favorite time of the year is the first week June. She begins the week with the graduating class of that year and ends it with orientation for the incoming class.

Like us, Nellie attended McGill University. She started off knowing she wanted to study history but that changed when she took an art history elective which turned out to be a passion of hers. The degree was a little different then, so she was able to focus on art history while completing her history degree. After making this change, her grades went up, and she started feeling better overall. She advises students to study what they like. They’ll feel happier and see opportunities where they wouldn’t before. She says that students should take care of themselves and focus on their health.

After graduating, she took a year off and taught English as a second language. Returning to Montreal, she wanted to continue studying art history, so she began a qualifying year at Concordia University for a master’s degree. In need of a job after her travels, Nellie started working at Dawson Hall where she gave out timetables to students. As a naturally shy person, she never foresaw continuing to work in advising and face to face with students, but they offered her a position at the front counter. She took the opportunity, and after adjusting, realized she was good with people. While this came as a surprise to her, she found she enjoyed interacting with students. She continued to work the counter, began to do administrative work for the office, and switched her master’s focus to education.

Through her degree, she studied first year retention and continued to work in Dawson Hall. After graduating, when she started advising, she inherited the peer advising program which she continues to run today. She finds it important to get out of your comfort zone and to discover where your strengths lie and to then focus on them. For advising, she finds active listening and compassion to be traits suited for the role. She encourages and supports students while also challenging them, a balance she strikes well, in my opinion.

Looking back, Nellie never could have imagined she would work in Dawson Hall, which made her nervous as an undergrad. She was open to new opportunities and found herself working at the front counter which started her on this path. She truly loves what she does even as the responsibilities have changed through the years. When asked what her favorite part of the job is, she said the students.



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