Academic Advisor helped shape student’s future

Graduating KUEC student reflects on how her academic advisor, Renee Williams, supported her through the journey from community college to medical school. 

Kaitlyn Sy sits with her academic advisor Renee.

I first got in touch with Renee Williams as a sophomore at Johnson County Community College. Renee’s predecessor had guided me as I took my biotech prerequisites at JCCC, and I was almost ready to transfer. The transition from my former advisor to Renee was seamless and, after a friendly email exchange and meeting with Renee, I was all set to start classes at the KU Edwards Campus (KUEC) after completing my associate degree. 

As excited as I was about transferring, I was a bit scared. Having been home-schooled from kindergarten through high school and coming from a community college, I wasn’t sure how I’d fit in at a big and esteemed university like KU. But Renee took care of all my apprehensions on Orientation Day. She gave me a warm welcome and introduced me to the faculty. She answered all my questions thoroughly, even though our breakout session had ended and she could have gone home. Due to our extended conversation, I missed the campus tour, but she kindly gave me a one-on-one tour. 

Not only did Renee help me feel welcome at KUEC, but she also connected me to great opportunities. She helped me join the KUEC Honors Program, which has given me access to one-on-one mentoring from faculty, research experiences, and scholarships. She also encouraged me to apply for my job as a transfer ambassador, where I got lots of practice with communication, teamwork, and leadership — as well as plenty of opportunities for networking and professional development. As a transfer ambassador, I enjoyed the role of hosting prospective students at campus events and sharing my experiences. 

Renee was a huge help in my transfer process and my success at KUEC, but she also played a big role in helping me prepare for my next steps after graduation. My ultimate goal is to become a medical doctor and Renee was nothing short of supportive during my pre-med journey. She helped me sort out med school prerequisites and designed my course sequence to satisfy the requirements for both my biotech degree and pre-medicine. She coached me through MCAT preparation and med school applications, even providing detailed feedback on my personal statement. 

It’s been just two years since that first email exchange with Renee, and as of graduation on May 11, I will be a proud alumna of the KU Edwards Campus. Not only that, but I also have a seat in KU School of Medicine’s class of 2028 waiting for me! I would be remiss to receive my diploma and white coat without thanking Renee for going above and beyond as my academic advisor. She’s been there for me when I’ve been frustrated, confused, and disappointed, and she’s also been my biggest cheerleader when I’ve celebrated milestones — big and small. 

I recently asked Renee what it means to her to be an academic advisor, and she answered, “In the simplest sense, it means helping students be successful. Or just helping students, period! That looks different for each student, but I am grateful I have the freedom to help students explore what success means, and work with students to find ways to achieve their goals.”  

Renee certainly helped me, and I’m sure she has helped many others and will help many more. 

If you’re a student looking to come to KUEC, consider the advice that Renee gives to any prospective student: “Make an appointment with an advisor! After the appointment, the academic advisor can take you on a tour. The more you know about the degree, the campus, and the people, the better decision you can make. Edwards Campus is awesome — we’re KU Jayhawks to the core, with a smaller campus feel—giving our students a more individualized experience, all that with the high academic rigor that KU is known for.” 
Are you interested in learning more about what KU Edwards Campus has to offer? Schedule an appointment with an academic advisor today! 

This blog was written by upcoming KUEC graduate in the Biotechnology program, Kaitlyn Sy. 

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