Outstanding Undergraduate Advisor Awards

The goal of the annual Outstanding Undergraduate Advisor Awards is to recognize the extraordinary contributions of undergraduate academic advisors in supporting academic success and student development at the University of Connecticut.

For 2024, the awards include:

  • Outstanding New Professional Staff Advisor
  • Outstanding Professional Staff Advisor
  • Outstanding Faculty Advisor

Nominees will be evaluated on qualities and practices that distinguish them as an outstanding academic advisor and leader. Award winners will demonstrate excellence in undergraduate advising and will exhibit an impact on their undergraduate advisees’ educational development through sustained academic advising relationships.

Recipients of the awards will receive professional development funding and a commemorative plaque.


Awards Eligibility

Nominees must be involved in the direct delivery of advising services as part of their job responsibilities to UConn undergraduate students. Three awards will be granted in 2024:

Professional Advisors: 

  • The Outstanding New Professional Staff Advisor Award recognizes an individual, typically a staff member, who has primary responsibilities involve undergraduate academic advising. Nominees must have less than three years of UConn undergraduate advising experience.
  • The Outstanding Professional Staff Advisor Award recognizes an individual, typically a staff member, whose primary responsibilities involve undergraduate academic advising. Nominees must have three or more years of undergraduate advising experience.

Faculty Advisors:

  • The Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award recognizes an individual whose primary responsibility is as a teaching and/or research faculty member but who spends a portion of their time providing academic advising and mentoring to undergraduate students.

Awards Criteria


Advisors must significantly enhance advisees' educational experiences by being readily available to them, have knowledge of the University’s policies and resources as they pertain to advising, and demonstrate a genuine interest in and concern for their advisees’ overall educational experience.

  • Accessibility: Advisors will have demonstrated a willingness to be available and accessible to advisees, allowing for frequent contact and being proactive in their engagement with advisees.
  • Knowledge: Advisors will have demonstrated a good understanding of and support for UConn’s policies to support student success, appropriately referring their advisees to support services and other resources on campus, and effectively collaborating with university partners to support student success.
  • Support: Academic advisors will have demonstrated engagement in equitable and meaningful advising practices and relationships with students with diverse backgrounds, including addressing barriers and needs that support student success.

Awards Committee

Kelly Gilbert (Committee Chair), Assistant Director for Engagement, Learning and Development, Undergraduate Advising

Dr. Erin Ciarimboli, Director of Undergraduate Advising

Kennedy Evans, Student Administrative Specialist, Office of Undergraduate Advising

JP Lappen, Academic Advisor, College of Engineering

Krista Rogers, Assistant Director, Pre-Professional Advising

Rawan Shilleh, Coordinator, CAPS 

Dr. Fei Wang, Associate Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Department of Pharmacy Practice

Daniela Weiser, Assistant Professor in Residence, Design & Associate Department Head for Courses & Curriculum

Dr. Steve Zinn, Professor, College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources


Nomination Process

Nominations will be accepted from undergraduate students, as well as current UConn colleagues, faculty, or current or past supervisors. Nominate an advisor using this link by February 26, 2024 (form is now closed).

Once nominations have been collected, nominees will be notified and asked to submit the following by Monday, March 25, 2024:

  • Nominee’s advising philosophy
    • 2 pages maximum
  • Nominee’s advising resume/vita
    • This should highlight experiences and dates that are relevant to academic advising for award consideration.
    • 2 pages maximum
  • Testimonials, which speak directly to the specific criteria listed on the nomination submission-access, knowledge and support.
    • Testimonials should be submitted to the nominee and attached to this form at the time of submission.
    • Testimonials can come from:
      • Current or past undergraduate advisees
      • Current University of Connecticut colleagues
      • Past or present supervisors
    • Testimonials are not mandatory but are recommended for adding additional support for each nominee
    • Nominees may submit a maximum of 5 testimonials. 


February 5 Call for student and staff nominations
February 26 Nominations close
February 29 Nominees notified
March 25 Nominees' packets due (advising philosophy, resume/CV, and testimonials)
April 1 Committee meets to review nomination packets
April 17 Winners and nominees announced at 2024 Outstanding Advising Awards Ceremony (Alumni Center, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.)


2023 Advising Award Recipients

2023 Outstanding Undergraduate Advising Award Recipients

Outstanding Undergraduate Faculty Advisor Award

Steven Zinn

Professor, Department of Animal Science

Dr. Zinn's advising philosophy prioritizes student care and fostering personal connections by being present, attentive, and knowledgeable about the information needed for success at UConn and in life.

“In total, my advising philosophy is very simple: care about students and get to know them as individuals, be present, pay attention, know the information they need to be successful at UConn and in life, and be aware of their growth as adults. My guiding principle in advising is one I tell my students all the time: ‘You are my advisee and mentee from the time that you decide to be an advisee until the time you decide you don’t--whether that is one week, one year, four years, or 30 years.’”

Outstanding Undergraduate New Professional Staff Advisor Award 

Jennifer 'JP' Platts

Academic Advisor, Avery Point

JP's advising philosophy encompasses a holistic approach that recognizes the academic and emotional state of each individual. She prioritizes inclusiveness and strives for constant learning, as well as knowing students individually.

“I am working to create a supportive environment for diverse populations that considers the needs and perspectives of marginalized students. By listening and validating experiences and continuing my own education, I can better advocate for others.”

Outstanding Undergraduate Professional Staff Advisor Award (2 recipients)

Krista Rogers

Assistant Director, Pre-Professional Programs

Krista Rogers's advising philosophy looks at students as a whole. She recognizes that a single interaction has the potential to significantly impact a student's journey.

“Sometimes a single interaction can change the course of a student’s academic and professional trajectory. Every student who enters my office has their own story to tell. I strive to be someone who empowers my advisees to be able to articulate their own strengths and to tell their own story.”


Rawan Shilleh

Student Support Services, Coordinator/Counselor, ISS Academic Programs Center, Stamford Campus

Rawan philosophy emphasizes individualized relationships. Acting as a supportive figure, she aims to create caring and beneficial relationships, and ultimately, sending the message to students that they matter.

“I strive to create personalized relationships with all my students. Being their support system and having a genuine concern for my students allows me to develop a caring and beneficial relationship that helps increase academic motivation and persistence. The message I send to all students is that they are valued, they are appreciated, and they are supported."

2023 Nominees

New Professional Staff Nominees

  • Abigail Clark, Academic Advisor, Hartford
  • Amanda Wilde, Director of Advising, School of Fine Arts
  • David Hosty, Academic Advisor, Stamford
  • Jennifer Platts, Academic Advisor, Avery Point
  • Jetsenia Rodriguez, Academic Advisor, Hartford
  • Kelsey Glynn, Academic Advisor, School of Engineering
  • Kristen Dostaler, Academic Advisor, College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources

Professional Staff Nominees

  • Aaron Collins, Academic Advisor, Avery Point
  • Amy Donofrio, Academic Advisor, School of Engineering
  • Ashley Rose Slotkin, Academic Advisor, School of Engineering
  • Chelsea Zabel, Academic Advisor, Psychological Sciences
  • Jessica Groves, Academic Advisor and Assistant Director of CLAS Academic Services, Psychological Sciences
  • Johnny Banks, Academic Advisor, Avery Point
  • Katerine Pais, Academic Advisor, Biology Advising Center
  • Kathryn D'Antonio, Academic Advisor, Department of Communication
  • Krista Rogers, Assistant Director, Pre-Professional Advising
  • Lisa Ephraim, Academic Advisor, School of Engineering
  • Lynn Papacostas Ginolfi, Regional Campus Coordinator, Center for Access and Postsecondary Success
  • Michael Cunningham, Assistant Director, Individualized & Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Rawan Shilleh, Coordinator, Student Support Services (SSS), Stamford
  • Sharyn Rusch, Assistant Director, CLAS ASC Coordinator, Biology Advising Center

Faculty Nominees

  • Alexia Smith, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
  • Carrie Eaton, Assistant Clinical Professor, School of Nursing
  • Christopher Blesso, Associate Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences
  • Claudia Koerting, Faculty Academic Advisor and Program Coordinator, Marine Sciences
  • Margaret Breen, Professor and Regional Campus Liaison, Department of English
  • Matthew McKenzie, Professor of History and American Studies Coordinator, Avery Point
  • Nancy Steenburg, Adjunct Professor, Department of History, Avery Point
  • Stephanie Singe, Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology
  • Steven Zinn, Professor, Department of Animal Science

2022 Advising Award Recipients

2022 Outstanding Undergraduate Advising Award Recipients

Outstanding Undergraduate Faculty Advisor Award

Fei Wang

M.Sc., Pharm.D., BCPS, FASHP, TTS

Associate Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice

Dr. Wang, is an Associate Clinical Professor at the University Of Connecticut School Of Pharmacy with a joint appointment as an Associate Professor of Peking University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Beijing, China since 2015. She received her bachelor of science in Pharmacy, masters in Pharmacy Administration, and Doctor of Pharmacy from St. John’s University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in New York followed by a PGY-2 ASHP-accredited residency, specializing in Adult Internal Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. She is a board certified pharmacotherapy specialist, a tobacco treatment specialist, and a trained group facilitator by the American Lung Association. Dr. Wang is a 2008 elected Fellow of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, a past President of the Connecticut Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and past director of the Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Residency Program and co-director of the PGY-1 Pharmacy Residency Program with Emphasis in Primary Care.

In her current role at UConn, she has teaching and faculty advising responsibilities for the professional program in the dermatology, endocrine, nutrition, and cardiovascular modules, including an elective course in ambulatory care. Her experiential teaching, practice and scholarly interests include improving medication therapy management and safety in a safety-net population with a focus on quality and metric-driven outcomes, clinical integration, and reducing health disparities. Her publications over the past 10 years have focused on diabetes and/or practice-based research questions that address gaps in knowledge or care.

Fei Wang Bio Link

Outstanding Undergraduate New Professional Staff Advisor Award (new in 2022)

Megan Lucia

CLAS Staff Advisor, Stamford Campus

Megan Lucia is the CLAS Academic Advisor for UCONN Stamford. She started this new role during July 2020 in the midst of working from home. It has been a whirlwind two years of learning all things CLAS and about the Stamford campus. The Stamford community was a very welcoming place during such an odd transition, with many supportive colleagues and ambitious students- every day brings new challenges and opportunities. When not helping students navigate the college environment, Megan enjoys spending time at home in Middlebury CT with her family, exploring New England and finding fun things to do with her two daughters.

Outstanding Undergraduate Professional Staff Advisor Award (2 recipients)

Megan Delaney

Academic Advisor, Pre-Professional Program

Office of Admissions and Student Affairs, School of Pharmacy

Megan Delaney (she/her/hers) serves as the pre-professional academic advisor for UConn's School of Pharmacy. She works with first- and second-year students from orientation through application and admission to the professional pharmacy program. In addition, Megan serves as Assistant Director to the School’s Pharmacy House Living Learning Community. Prior to joining the School of Pharmacy in 2020, Megan worked in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences supporting academically at-risk students in the Academic Services Center and students in the WGSS and Pre-Journalism majors.

Megan is currently a third-year Ed.D. student in the Neag School of Education working on her capstone project, which is focused on the beliefs and values white women academic advisors have about BIPOC students in STEM. She hopes that by thinking about how whiteness shows up in academic advising at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) such as UConn that advisors can increase their racial consciousness to better support and retain BIPOC students.


Lauren Munyard

Academic Advisor, Department of Economics, CLAS

Lauren has been an advisor for 18 years, including at Boston University’s College of Communication and at UConn for 15 years as an advisor at the School of Business, Departments of Communication, Sociology, and Economics and at the CLAS Academic Services Center which serves as CLAS’ central advising office. She specializes in working with a large population of students, using techniques and tools she has learned through advising in different areas along with innovation to best serve the needs of many students while making them feel like an individual.  Currently she advises in Economics, one of the largest majors in CLAS. She started the Uconnomist undergraduate e-newsletter, has been working on developing a peer advising system in her department and has helped to create and put into place many new systems and processes to help make a large advising office run. In her past, Lauren developed an advising center from the ground up and hired and led its student workers, graduate assistants and advisors as the department doubled in size in majors. She has supervised many graduate assistants who were learning the advising profession. She has also worked with majors at the Regional campuses and works extensively with many international students who have unique needs given the pandemic and travel restrictions. She supervises student workers and manages the free tutoring program, manages the enrollment and permission number process, and is on the Undergraduate Programs Committee and the committee for the Economics Department Undergraduate Awards.

She also manages the Program Plan Change program for CLAS and processes major and advisor changes for the school, manages the ECE and non-degree courses for CLAS and their application to the students’ degrees, serves as the university contact for final plans of study issues and workflow and is on the University’s Nexus Steering Committee that works to help evolve the Nexus program to suit the needs of UConn academic advisors. Lauren has offered many workshops to the advising community, including instructional trainings on Student Admin, Nexus, Excel tips, and how to advise large majors and serves as an advisor resource for Nexus questions and troubleshooting.

Lauren studied Communication at Houghton College and Boston University as well as earned minors in Writing and Business.  Lauren attended the State University of New York at Oswego before transferring to Houghton College her sophomore year. As she understands the complexities transfer students face from changing colleges, she especially enjoys working with the transfer student population to help make their transition to their new school as seamless as possible. Throughout her advising career, she has been a student group advisor for multiple groups that do volunteer activities. Lauren’s passion is for animals and she volunteers her time working with animal rescues.

2021 Advising Award Recipients

2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Advising Award Recipients

Recipients have demonstrated sustained excellence in undergraduate advising and have made a significant impact on their advisees' intellectual development through sustained academic advising relationships. 

Outstanding Undergraduate Faculty Advisor Award

Daniela Weiser

Daniela joined the Dramatic Arts Department in 2011 to teach drawing, painting and drafting in the BFA and MFA Design/Tech programs and to be the Scenic Charge Artist for Connecticut Repertory Theatre.  Currently she also serves as the Associate Department Head for Courses and Curriculum and as an undergraduate academic advisor. Daniela's advising philosophy revolves around service. She believes in creating a support system for students, providing resources and guidance on how to navigate the college experience.  

Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Daniela completed her Master of Fine Arts in Technical Production from the Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) at the University of Delaware. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Psychology from Beloit College, WI. She is also a proud alumnus of United World College of South East Asia in Singapore. 

She has worked professionally as a Set Designer, Scenic Charge Artist and Stage Manager since 1998. Some of the companies she has collaborated with are Utah Shakespearean Festival, Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Utah Musical Theatre, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, South Carolina Repertory Theatre, Theatre Catalyst, Lean Ensemble Theatre, Timberlake Playhouse, Teatro Teresa Carreño, Caracas Contemporary Ballet Company, Caracas International Theatre Festival and the Ateneo de Caracas.

Outstanding Undergraduate Professional Staff Advisor Award

Dr. Noemi Maldonado-Picardi

Dr. Noemi Maldonado Picardi has served as an Academic Counselor the past 13 years at both the Storrs and the Avery Point Campus where she has lead efforts to improve the academic, personal, and professional success of students through strong collaborations across multiple campuses.  She instills a student centered approach to advising that fosters connection and sense of belonging amongst her students and promotes life transformative experiences that enhances students educational opportunities and growth. 


Most recently, Noemi was named Director of Student Services at the UConn Avery Point Campus where she leads a team in supporting student success and retention across areas of admissions, orientation, advising, wellness and mental health, student activities, and career services.   She recently earned her Doctorate in Education from the Neag School of Education focusing on the retention efforts and overall support of African American males in higher education. Noemi is passionate about improving university wide efforts that support diversity and inclusion and  and the ways advising and student services can support these goals.


2020 Advising Award Recipients

2020 Outstanding Undergraduate Advising Award Recipients

Recipients have demonstrated sustained excellence in undergraduate advising and have made a significant impact on their advisees' intellectual development through sustained academic advising relationships. 

Outstanding Undergraduate Faculty Advisor Award

Judy Brown

Dr. Judy Brown currently holds the following appointments at the university:

More on Judy can be found here.

Outstanding Undergraduate Professional Staff Advisor Award

Shoshana Armington

Shoshana is the Assistant Director of Advising for Student Transitions in the School of Engineering. She currently advises undecided engineering, regional campus and exploring engineering students at all campuses regarding course scheduling, degree planning, and career enhancement. More on Shoshana can be found here.

Pre-2020 Advising Award Recipients


 Faculty Award

      • Dr. Helen Rozwadowski, History

Professional Staff Award

      • Dr. Dana Ziter, Engineering

Faculty Award

      • Dr. Thomas Abbott, Biology

Professional Staff Award

      • Carl Dean, SSS (Storrs)
      • Nancy Steenburg, Avery Point