Joanna Muller, an academic advisor in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Office of Professional Program Support, has earned the 2022 Outstanding Professional Academic Advisor Award for exemplifying the best qualities of academic staff advisors.
"It's nice to be appreciated and valued. I've worked with thousands of students, and you get that individual appreciation and gratitude, which is very rewarding," said Muller. "But receiving this acknowledgment on a bigger scale is meaningful and makes me feel appreciated and motivated."
Muller is in her 19th year with the University of Wisconsin System. She advises roughly 175 students each semester – all of whom connect with UW-Platteville at a distance. Her advisees also cover a wide range of UW-Platteville's academic offerings, including associate and undergraduate degree seekers, as well as incarcerated students. Because of the diversity of these students, Muller needs to utilize every tool in her academic advising toolbox.
"Prioritizing student development is her focus," says Becca Bartusewich, advising manager in the Office of Professional Program Support. "She will not give up on a student who needs her support, and she is adept at reading between the lines to help them identify the true blocker to their success."
Muller has always had a passion for helping others reach their dreams. It is what drove her to earn a master's degree in academic advising from Kansas State University.
"That's what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be somebody that helps other people figure out what they want to be," Muller said. "I like helping students find their potential and find their passion. All these students have strengths, goals and dreams. My job as an advisor is to guide them to reach their potential."
Building relationships is central to Muller's advising style – and those relationships don't always end when the student's academic journey ends. She's still in contact with many of her former students, regularly exchanging letters and emails.
"It's so exciting to hear from people – updates on where they're at now, what they are doing, and knowing I was part of their journey is really cool," Muller said.
Muller will be recognized at the UW-Platteville faculty and staff convocation on Sept. 1. In addition, her nomination will be forwarded for the Wisconsin Academic Advising Association's and the National Academic Advising Association's advising awards.