#NISODProfiles – Jessica Shelton
“Many students feel like impostors who don’t belong on campus. That resonates with me, and I try to normalize belonging and self-confidence during advising times or meetings during office hours.”
#NISODProfiles | November 14, 2019
How long have you been a college educator?
I’ve been teaching for five years and served as a counselor and advisor in student services for ten years before I started teaching.
What is your favorite part about being a community college educator?
I teach in one of McLennan Community College’s workforce programs. We have a cohort model, which allows me to have the same students in most of the classes I teach over the course of their time at MCC. I love seeing the students grow professionally, personally, and academically. Through our work in the classroom, our time during advising meetings, and the supportive relationships they forge throughout their time in our program, students learn that they are capable of doing things they never thought possible. It is so rewarding to be one part of those changes.
What is your best piece of advice for new or existing colleagues at community or technical colleges in your field?
I would encourage new faculty to connect with a faculty mentor. My first year as a professor was so much more enjoyable because of the assistance of my mentor. She helped me learn the practical things I needed for day-to-day success and, more importantly, she guided me through the overarching developmental steps that new faculty go through, especially when transitioning from the workforce to teaching. For existing colleagues in my field, I would recommend finding ways to stay connected to the workforce. It benefits you as you stay informed about what’s going on in the field, and it helps your students because you have a network that comes in handy as they enter the workforce after graduation.
How do you connect with your students?
I worked as a counselor and advisor in student services for ten years before I started teaching. One of the most important lessons I learned during that time is that relationships are crucial in our work with students. Many students are nervous about being in a classroom because they doubt their abilities. They do not understand how college works, which leads to a reluctance toward asking questions. Many students feel like impostors who don’t belong on campus. That resonates with me, and I try to normalize belonging and self-confidence during advising times or meetings during office hours. I emphasize in the first few class meetings that I care about everyone’s success and that they can come to me whenever they need support. Though I may not always be able to help, I can at least point students in the direction of someone who can.
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?
My grandparents. They were a huge part of my childhood, and the times I spent sitting at their dining table are some of my favorite memories.
Every month, NISOD profiles faculty and staff from our member colleges who are doing extraordinary work on their campuses. #NISODProfiles offer a direct connection to your colleagues from across the world who exemplify NISOD’s mission of improving teaching, learning, and leadership.