Rainey receives President’s Award for Academic Advising

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Dr. Sarah Smith Rainey has a reputation for being a creative, proactive and generous adviser in Bowling Green State University’s School of Cultural and Critical Studies. Her work with nearly 175 students who major and minor in the school’s programs earned her the President’s Award for Academic Advising.

According to her nominator, Dr. Susana Peña, school director, Rainey goes beyond the usual advising tasks of helping students understand their degree audit reports, search for classes or plan for graduation.

She “makes herself accessible to the students via Skype, internet chats … and an online scheduling system where students can schedule their own appointments,” Peña said. She offers professional development programs to help students get into graduate school, perfect interviewing skills and network for socially responsible careers and internships.

“Most of our students come to our programs later in their college careers, after they’ve taken one of our courses for a Bowling Green Perspective requirement or become involved with social justice-oriented student organizations,” Rainey said. “In the past, they did not reach us until their junior or even senior years, which means I am challenged to help students find us sooner.”

By increasing the visibility of the programs across campus and finding diverse ways to talk to current BGSU students as well as prospective students, Rainey has helped students identify their interest in the programs earlier in their BGSU careers. The numbers indicate the efforts have been successful. When she started advising students in fall 2012, the school had 141 majors and minors. In two years, the school’s enrollment has grown to 174 students, a 23 percent increase.

Often students who are inspired to major or minor in American culture studies, ethnic studies, popular culture and women’s studies question how their degrees will translate to the job market. “Dr. Rainey takes this concern very seriously and actively mentors students about these issues,” Peña explained.

Senior Daniel Galek, a women’s studies major, refers to Rainey as a superhero, “who advises by day and mentors by night.” He credits her for helping him get a part-time job as a prevention specialist at the SAAFE Center. She helped him refine his resume and cover letter, and reassured him that he was right for the position. “Dr. Sarah Rainey is more than an adviser; she has been an advocate for my success.”