“Some of my proudest moments while working in this field involve students discovering their interests and achieving their goals,” Walker says.
Undergraduate Programs - Staff
Undergraduate Programs - Staff
As an academic advisor in the Haslam College of Business Undergraduate Programs, Merrill Walker aims to have a positive impact on each student she meets. Her goal is for students to leave their meetings with an understanding of their curriculum and academic plan and an ability to identify available resources that will contribute to their success. She also hopes they take with them feelings of responsibility and empowerment and trust in their advisor.
“I want students to find me approachable and authentic so that they can be their true selves in a safe space,” she says. “The more I know about a student’s experiences, strengths and goals, the more helpful and effective I can be as their advisor.”
Walker takes this goal seriously, working attentively to help Haslam students achieve their dreams. Earlier this year, she was chosen from hundreds of nominations nationwide and recognized by NACADA, the Global Community of Academic Advising, with a 2020 Certificate of Merit. Walker was nominated by her students, peers and directors, honoring her important work in the college.
“I was excited, honored and humbled by the recognition,” she says. “This award has reinforced that I am in the right field and making a positive impact on my students. Even if I had not been selected as a recipient, I am so grateful for my students taking the time to write letters of support for their advisor. That alone means so much to me and touches my heart.”
Walker’s own college experience led her to pursue student affairs and higher education. She held several leadership positions as an undergraduate, including serving as an orientation leader and student organization president. This involvement allowed her to discover her passion for working with college students and helping them succeed as both students and new professionals.
While pursuing her graduate degree, walker served as an academic advisor, and she loved having daily interaction with undergraduate students. Walker later went to work in orientation but returned to academic advising after missing coaching and advising. At Haslam, she has found success, helping students navigate important academic and career decisions since 2016.
“Some of my proudest moments while working in this field involve students discovering their interests and achieving their goals,” Walker says. “Watching a student’s face light up when they make a connection or discover a potential career path makes me proud of them and the work we do in advising. Sometimes, students just need support or a sounding board to realize their inner potential.”
Blackwell encourages current students to hone communication profiency along with analytical and critical thinking skills.
While studying finance and engineering in the Heath Integrated Business and Engineering Program, Wilkinson has also started a podcast series at Haslam: “Project Inspire.”