Leading through Advising
Psychology Advisor Kacy Pula Named NACADA’s 2018 Excellence in Advising Award for her Commitment to U of I Students
Advising is one of the most important parts a college experience. Advisors help guide students into their career paths by providing a variety of resources and individual help inspired by their own experiences. Kacy Pula is one advisor at the University of Idaho in the Department of Psychology and Communication Studies who goes above and beyond for her students.
Pula, an Illinois native, completed her master’s and doctoral degrees at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, in 2009 and 2012. Her experience on the Palouse was motivation for her to come back and teach at University of Idaho.
“I liked the area and my husband’s family is here so it’s nice for us to come back,” Pula said.
Pula, who has been at the University of Idaho since 2014, received NACADA’s 2018 Excellence in Advising Award for Faculty Advising, an honor given to outstanding collegiate faculty advisors across the country.
Pula was nominated by the U of I Academic Advising Association, the primary organized group of professional and faculty advisors and student support personnel at the University of Idaho. As part of the nomination packet, Chelsa Dredge, a senior majoring in psychology and one of Pula’s advisees, wrote a letter of support.
“I wanted to write a letter that would do her justice,” said Dredge. “It’s an award she deserves. She’s what I would call, more than just an academic advisor, she’s a mentor.”
Teaching through Advising
Pula, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Communication Studies, is the primary faculty advisor for junior and seniors. She also coordinates a peer-advising program for freshman and sophomores majoring in psychology.
“During my graduate program, I had the opportunity to teach and I was just really enjoying that, but it became more and more important for me to find a faculty position for teaching and advising,” Pula said.
Psychology is a popular major and the peer advising program helps students get more individual time with their teachers and classmates. The peer-advisors are students that work mainly with freshman and sophomores with their schedule, while the faculty advisor helps upper classman make decisions about their post-graduate options.
“It’s a brilliant system. It’s a student working for another student they might not be familiar with, but they have an insider view,” Dredge said.
“I enjoy working among the students,” Pula said. “And in some of the larger classes I teach, I don’t get to interact with all of the students on a one on one basis, so advising is a great way to get to know a student outside the classroom context.”
According to Pula, her main goal is to get the students to be more deliberate about their education choices, rather than going through the motions just to get a degree.
Her goal is to “connect (students) with whatever relative resources they might need.”
She also helps students translate their interests in psychology to a career.
“I think there is a lot of misconception about what you can and can’t do with a psychology degree,” Pula said. “Most students want to talk about that.”
“(Going to graduate school) is something that I always wanted to do, but I had a lot of uncertainty, not knowing whether or not I want to just get a Masters or a Ph.D.,” Dredge said. “Dr. Pula’s support and all of the activities I’ve done has led me to figure that I can do more and go further.”
Article by Alexandria Arritt, College of Letter Arts and Social Sciences
Published June 2018.