We would like to introduce you to the newest member of the College of Business Administration's Advising Staff, Melissa Thomas. Melissa joined the Student Services Advising Team this March. Please read below to learn more about Melissa.
Favorite Chicago Activities/Places: During Chicago summer, I especially love to bike on the lakefront path. The lake brings so much calm and fun in the summer that it (almost) makes the cold winter worth it. I also love performance art and festivals … and so try to take advantage as often as I can. For me, Chicago is about the diversity of food and culture, neighborhoods, and the arts; I always want to soak up more of all of those things! In a city of this size, I always feel like there is more I could be doing and seeing.
Favorite Chicago Restaurants: In summer: any restaurant with a patio. In the winter: any place with a fireplace. Well, that’s too simplified, but it’s so hard to choose! I love Thai, Japanese, Mexican, and pizza. I think Lakeview, Wicker Park, Fulton Market, and Pilsen have the best food and/or dining experiences that I have had (so far).
Hometown: Lima, Ohio
Tell us a little about your personal/professional background. I worked in the Admissions Office as an undergraduate student and was quickly drawn to higher education as a career path. I finished my degree in Middle Childhood Education knowing, though, that I was going to go on to student services at a college or university. I spent 7 professional years at Rhodes State College in my hometown, where I had the opportunity to fill multiple roles in service to students, including admissions, advising, adjunct teaching, community outreach, and dual enrollment. Being a small college, my hands were in many projects and talented mentors were within close reach. I was able to finish my Master’s Degree in Student Affairs at Wright State University (in 2008) while working fulltime at Rhodes. My research interests were largely based in the impact academic advising has on student development.
When I was ready for a new challenge, I began job hunting in bigger cities. I landed at City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) in late 2012. While only having spent a short time at CCC, I was in love with the city and was so eager to make my life here and continue growing in higher education. After that, I was an advisor for an online University, a substitute teacher for Chicago Public Schools, and spent a couple summers working at Navy Pier. I deeply missed helping students maneuver the multi-layered college experience and motivating them for their personal definitions of success. I decided to focus my career strictly in academic advising for now, as it is where my passion and talents lay in previous roles.
How did you end up working at UIC? I was searching for a more traditional experience at a public institution, after it was becoming clearer and clearer that I just had to get back to academic advising. UIC was always my top choice in Chicago (even before I had moved here in 2012) because of its size, mission and diversity. I saw a position in the College of Business and knew immediately that it could be my new reality/happy fit. I was right!
What are you most excited to do in your new role? I am most excited to genuinely and holistically help CBA students every day -- to listen to their individualneeds and do all that I can to offer what may be/is best. Beyond that, I cannot wait to become more involved in the UIC community in general and have it also become an important part of my personal life and experiences.
What critical information should students know about? Students should know that I think pursuing higher education is more than just getting the degree needed for the job that they want. Equally as important is the practiced critical thinking, the good habits formed, the connections made, and the lessons learned throughout their time at UIC. Students should know that I genuinely care about their goals and want to help them to achieve them. I also hope that students know that I respect them and that I try very hard to improve my practice of the strategies and competencies that best serve them.