Monday, June 11, 2012

As an academic advisor for the College of Health and Human Services, Sara Potts focuses on helping students navigate their undergraduate careers in preparation for either graduate school or professional careers.

Potts said she remembers being that uncertain freshman at Valdosta State University and can empathize with her advisees.

“Going into my freshman year, I struggled. I didn’t have a strong foundation from high school going into college,” explained Potts. “By the end of the year, I was on academic probation. I took a freshman seminar class under Dr. Burns. He saw potential in me that I didn’t see in myself. He asked me to work as a student assistant in the OASES Center for Advising, which I did through my undergraduate and graduate career. I think one of the reasons I chose this field is because he did something for me that I want to do for other students. I know what it’s like to feel lost, so I want to be that mentor for someone else.”

A native of Atlanta, Potts completed a bachelor’s in speech communications and a master’s in educational leadership before assuming her current position at the University in April 2010. She and her colleagues advise the approximate 1,500 pre-majors for the college.

“Our goal is to prepare them to apply to one of the four majors in the college’s upper division,” Potts stated. “Also, we want to inform them about each major academically and the career prospects of each major. Ultimately, our job is to empower them to make decisions that guide their academic and professional careers.”

Given the nature of the position, Potts develops close relationships with students. She views this as one of the more rewarding aspects of the job.

“Building connections with students is one of the great joys of being an advisor. It’s uplifting to have a student come back to you and say, ‘If it wasn’t for what you suggested, I wouldn’t have kept going,’” said Potts. “You really feel like you have had a positive impact. The challenge though is you can’t reach every student and break down those barriers. I can see farther out than they can, and sometimes, they don’t see the implications that some of their decisions will have for their futures.”

Potts is excited to be at UNC Charlotte and feels the institution is poised to move to a new level with football coming in fall 2013. While she grew up in Atlanta, she thinks Charlotte is a more livable city. Beyond work, she and her boyfriend enjoy exploring the various neighborhoods, such as NoDa and South End for live music, theatre and other cultural opportunities. They also like to explore other parts of the state – from its many vineyards to the mountains and down to the beaches – and spend time with their miniature dachshund Winston.