NACADA salutes four WSU student advisors

PULLMAN, Wash.—Four student advisors at Washington State University have received the highest awards possible from the local chapter of the National Academic Advising Association. Recipient student advisors are Ruth Ryan, Patrick Carter, Shanna Pumphrey and Alicia Petersen.

“These four epitomize great advising, and through their professionalism and their dedication they make a tremendous positive difference to their advisees, to the field, and to our great university as a whole,” said Brooke Whiting, chair of the awards committee for WSU Academic Advising Association (WSU ACADA).

Three received Outstanding Advising Awards in the “advising category” as they have more than three years’ experience in the field: Ryan in the administrator group; Carter in the faculty group; and Pumphrey in the “primary role” group.

Petersen’s Outstanding Advising Award is in the “new advisor” category, for those with three or fewer years advising experience. Her award is the “primary role” group

As winners in their local organization, all four will be entered in NACADA award competition in spring. Since its first year in 2008, WSU ACADA ( members have received regional and national student advisor awards.

Ruth Ryan

Ruth Ryan - WSU student advisor

Ryan was promoted in March 2012 to associate director of the Center for Advising and Career Development (CACD). She took the academic advising lead at WSU for the new student-records technology, known on campus as Zzusis. She has developed and led numerous advising trainings, round tables, events, and discussions, and served as treasurer for WSU ACADA from 2007-2011. She is a Pullman native and WSU alumna in social sciences.

Nearly half her time is devoted to advising around 120 undergraduates. She specializes in those who are academically deficient or who seek reinstatement to the university. She helps them to develop on-campus support networks through tutoring, counseling, and clubs, and to build professional networks through jobs and internships.

“My personal philosophy for advising is ‘Students First’…over my 18 years of advising, I have come to know that each student is an individual who will traverse his/her own road,” she said.

“While my place in their lives may be important for a time, it is only temporary.” On her office wall is a photo of a student she helped. “Getting her graduation announcement and note about her future job was a very satisfying moment for me. (Her picture) reminds me that the work that I do makes a difference in our students’ lives.”

Patrick Carter

Patrick Carter - WSU student advisor

Researcher, teacher, and student advisor Carter is also an associate professor, associate director of undergraduate programs, and pre-vet advisor since 2003 in the School of Biological Sciences/College of Arts and Sciences. Over the past 10 years, 63 of his undergraduate advisees have been accepted into veterinary school. At WSU since 1996, he earned his degrees at Stanford University and the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Recently, he has been a senior investigator on two National Science Foundation grants; one focused on collaborative research in biology, math, and statistics and led to the second which supported development of new mathematical biology courses and programs at WSU. He estimates about one-quarter of his time is spent advising and mentoring undergraduate majors and researchers, and another quarter graduate researchers.

“Advising is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job and I have many fond memories of interacting with advisees,” he said. Of his 17 years as an advisor, he says,” My aims are to help students identify their academic and professional goals, attain those goals, and fulfill their personal potential…my fourth objective is to help students find the information they need to successfully navigate their academic and career paths.”

For the past 10 years, Carter has also been faculty advisor to the WSU Hillel Jewish Student Organization. He has helped its members raise funds for activities, plan events, and be active in the WSU community.

Shanna Pumphrey

Pumphrey-Shanna - WSU student advisor award 2013

Pumphrey is the academic and internship coordinator for the Dept. of Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles in the College of Agricultural, Natural, and Human Resource Sciences. She spends about 80 percent of her time working with more than 250 undergraduates and 9 graduate students. She joined WSU in 2010 as an academic advisor in the Dept. of Mechanical and Materials Science Engineering in the College of Engineering and Architecture. Prior to that, she held advising and other positions at her alma mater, Kansas State University, where she studied management and human relations. She is active in WSU ACADA and NACADA.

In addition to advising, she participates in recruiting for AMDT, evaluates students’ transfer credits, monitors their progress toward graduation, helps them apply for scholarships, and processes applications for graduate students. Her advisees work with her on long-term academic planning and, as sophomores, develop a career plan; they meet industry officials both on- and off-campus. Students never leave her office, she says, before she gives them a task to complete—one that will bring them back to her office to touch base during the semester.

“I look at what I do with pride and feel lucky to have the opportunities that I do within my college and my department,” she said. “I feel it’s a great privilege getting to play a role in each of these students’ lives, even if it is only a small piece.”

Alicia Petersen

Petersen Alicia - WSU student advisor award 2013

Alicia Petersen is an academic and career advisor, also in CACD. She networks with other advisors and departments across campus as well as her CACD colleagues to gather the most up-to-date information about each major. Petersen employs the philosophy and six techniques of appreciative advising to her job, striving for a rapport with her advisees and helping them uncover and reach their hopes and dreams for their future. An active WSU ACADA member, she helps run a brown-bag series to share appreciative advising best practices with others.

“My personal mission is to create a mentoring relationship and environment where trust and collaboration is established… (and to build) an atmosphere in which students can develop a holistic approach to their academic, career, and personal goals,” she said.

With degrees in health promotion and college student services administration from Boise State and Oregon State universities, respectively, and work experience in enrollment and student service at the College of Western Idaho, Petersen joined CACD in 2012. At WSU, she has helped develop curricula for a course and created a wellbeing workshop with lessons on study skills and success strategies.

For more information on WSU ACADA, visit

Media contact:

Brooke Whiting, Academic Coordinator, WSU Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 509-335-1219,