Director of Advising, Recruitment and Retention for Health Sciences Janita Ethridge was awarded the 2021 Regents' Academic Advising Award, which honors outstanding academic student advising with one award granted to a community college advisor and two granted to advisors at state colleges or universities within the Nevada System of Higher Education.
Ethridge has been a member of the health sciences advising office since 2008 and was promoted to director in 2016. Her leadership of recruitment for the health sciences is impressive, including implementing specific efforts to recruit students from Nevada’s rural areas like Elko, Winnemucca and Battle Mountain. Ethridge also leads the planning and implementation of HealthFIT (the health sciences version of NevadaFIT). Students who participate in HealthFIT find the program meaningful, useful and fun and it also provides them with a sense of belonging at the University. Even while serving as director, Ethridge continues to advise students.
Much of Ethridge's direct advising is targeted at special and at-risk populations, including students who are on academic probation, returning to the University after dismissal, and veterans.
She also advises the annual incoming freshman cohort for the Speech Pathology & Audiology program, which has a retention rate of 94% this year. Ethridge pays special attention to students entering their senior year by developing and running “Don’t Wait. Graduate.” workshops to help shepherd students through their final year before graduation.
Ethridge recently had a presentation accepted at the National Academic Advising Association Conference that highlighted her team’s work on aligning the pre-nursing and community health sciences degree programs. Students report that Ethridge is supportive, welcoming and always has their best interests in mind, but also that she pushes them to challenge themselves and get the most out of their education.
In the midst of a global pandemic, Ethridge shifted new student orientation online and managed student requests for alternate grading all while making sure her team remained available to students in this new virtual world. Her passion for helping students succeed, her willingness to take on new challenges in order to express that passion and her commitment to the academic quality of the University of Nevada, Reno, particularly in health professions, make her a worthy recipient of the Regents’ Undergraduate Advising Award.
"I believe that good advising and building strong relationships between an advisor and student is key to student success," Ethridge said.
The Board of Regents established the Regents' Academic Advising Award in 1998. Each honoree receives a $5,000 stipend. The 2021 Nevada Regents' Academic Advisor Awards honorees are:
- Lauren Stevens, Western Nevada College
- Janita Ethridge, University of Nevada, Reno
- Dr. Kwang J. Kim, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Q&A with Janita Ethridge
What does earning the Regents’ Undergraduate Advising Award mean to you?
Everything! I consider it my advisor lifetime achievement award. For me the award confirms that if you work really hard and never give up on your dreams that you can and will achieve those dreams! I often share with my students that I tried for many years to get a job as an academic advisor and was not hired. I never lost sight of my goal and eventually I did become an advisor and later became promoted to director. Proof that if you don’t give up and you work hard you can accomplish anything!
How do you approach undergraduate advising?
As Maya Angelou put it, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I believe that good advising and building strong relationships between an advisor and student is key to student success. Advising provides an opportunity to establish trusting and meaningful relationships with students in order to aid them in achieving their goals. I strive to make all students feel welcome and at home at the University and to help them realize their full potential and accomplish their dreams.
What lies ahead for you and your advising career?
My goal is to promote the role of effective academic advising in student success. In addition, I will seek new opportunities to support student needs and expectations in higher education. I will continue to modernize the functionality of the Health Sciences Advising Center by incorporating technology and adapting advising practices to meet the ever-changing demands of the large health sciences student population.
For the past 21 years, I have been a proud member of the Wolf Pack community as both an undergraduate and graduate student and dedicated employee. I am honored to receive this award and to be recognized for my contributions and commitment to advising at the University. My commitment to students and advising is a direct reflection of my love and commitment to the University of Nevada, Reno. I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to continue to serve our community and to improve health care in Nevada by recruiting and advising talented students.