Karen Brenner Drees, an academic advisor and coach, is the recipient of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s 2020 Outstanding Professional Advising Award. The award is presented annually to academic staff whose primary responsibility is advising.
“I’m going into my seventh year as a professional in higher education, but my interest began while I was working on campus as a college student myself,” said Drees. “Staff members made a difference in my life, and I hope to do the same for the students I work with. I enjoy being a part of the larger UW-Platteville campus community where we can build relationships and work together to find new ways to support our students.”
Drees has devoted her career to the field of higher education, having earned her bachelor’s degree in social science from California State University, Chico, and her master’s degree in student affairs and higher education from Indiana State University. She previously worked as residence hall director at California State University, Chico, before joining UW-Platteville’s Academic Support Programs’ team three years ago.
As an academic advisor and coach, Drees manages a caseload of 150 students, helping them to succeed and graduate, as well as helps transition transfer students to campus and participates in New Student Registration. She also teaches sections of the Intro to College Life course.
“My favorite thing about being an academic advisor is that I get to use problem-solving skills,” said Drees. “I enjoy helping students piece together course schedules, with the goal in mind of helping them efficiently get to graduation. Specifically, I use these skills when working with incoming transfer students. It’s fun to look at the classes they have and try to fit them into our requirements, and I know transfer students appreciate someone who is taking time to analyze the courses they have and help them get credit for what they’ve already completed. It’s a puzzle that I enjoy solving.”
Drees, along with her team, faced a new set of challenges last spring, when they quickly transitioned to providing virtual support to students. Drees said, receiving this award – especially amid new challenges – is a reminder of why she does this important work.
“As most of us on campus can attest, this summer has been a very busy and tough summer to get through as we prepare for the fall,” said Drees. “Receiving this award amidst the chaos was a very nice surprise and reminded me of the impact I have on each student I work with. I am honored to be recognized with this award, as it helps me to see the impact I’ve made and it encourages me to continue doing my job well.”