Ask an Advisor

College students get lots of cliché advice, such as “go to class,” “take advantage of office hours” and “meet with your advisor.” These sentiments are shared so often because they work. Meeting your advisor can be especially helpful for choosing a major or minor, finding internship or job opportunities, and overall making the most of your time in college.  Advisors are there to provide professional, unbiased advice and help students be successful, plus they’re pretty cool people.

Not sure who your advisor is? Find your academic advisor by logging in through your myKU portal.


Liz Barton – Graduation Advisor (students with last names H-L)Elizabeth_Barton_OPT(1)

Undergraduate Major: Interior Design

“I became an advisor because…” I’m a super nerd for school, education and anything related!  I started working at Student Academic Services as an administrative assistant and thought I would like to do more work directly with students.  I love that I get to helps students succeed in higher education every day!

My best advice for college students: Get engaged as much as possible on campus!  You may find a passion you never knew you had – try research, study abroad, internships, meeting and collaborating with different faculty.  I have never heard of anyone who regretted doing these things (even if they weren’t specific to their major or career interests).

My  soapbox: I often meet with students who want/have a permanent plan outlined for their future.  I’m here to tell you that plans change, and that’s okay!  Be prepared, yet flexible and things will work out.

“My favorite KU memory is…” I have a bunch, but I don’t think anything can top being a senior here at KU when the men’s basketball team won the National Championship!

What did you want to be when you were growing up? When I was young, I wanted to be a veterinarian until I realized what they actually do (I think in reality, I wanted to be a glorified pet babysitter!)

My super power would be: Teleportation!


Kim Beets, Academic Advisor (African & African-American studies, American studies, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Spanish & Portuguese)


Undergraduate Major: Spanish and Global & International studies

“I became an advisor because…” My undergraduate advisor was so helpful and caring. She made me feel like more than just a number and she really cared about helping me to find my path. I wanted to be able to have a positive impact on students in much the same way that she had such an impact on me.

My best advice for college students: Everyone always says “go to class.” Do that, but while you are there, talk to the person sitting next to you! You might just make a new friend and study partner.

My soapbox: Ask for help when you need it and don’t feel ashamed about it! We all need a little boost sometimes, just try your best and when you know that isn’t enough ask for help.

“My favorite KU memory is…” Studying abroad. I never thought I would get the opportunity to live and learn outside of the country, but KU gave me that and it was one of the most formative experiences of my life!

What did you want to be when you were growing up? A doctor. I will never be an MD, but I plan on going for the PhD someday.

My super power would be: The ability to speak any language fluently.


Denise Farmer – Academic Advisor (Liberal Arts & Sciences BGS)


Undergraduate Major:  History major, Russian minor

“I became an advisor because…”  I really loved my college experience and I wanted to do something that involved helping people.  Advising combines the best of both those worlds!

My best advice for college students: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  There are so many people and offices on campus who are here to make sure that you have a great experience at KU.

What’s at the top of your bucket list?  Visit Croatia

“My favorite KU memory is…” Winning the national championship in 2008!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?  An FBI agent 🙂

My super power would be: Mind reading


Lisa Hamblen – Academic Advisor (environmental studies, geology, geography and atmospheric science)Lisa_Hamblen_OPT(1)

Undergraduate Major:   Michigan State University, Interdisciplinary Studies—Human Resources and Society

“I became an advisor because…”  After receiving my master’s in Higher Education Leadership, I wanted to continue my pathway in students affairs.  It wasn’t until I became an adjunct faculty that I thought more about the academic side of higher education.  Although, I continued with student affairs after teaching, I never forgot about my experience and always thought it would be nice to become an academic advisor- a little mix of both worlds.

My soapbox:  I enjoy Olympic weightlifting and practicing yoga –they complement each other well.  I need coffee in the morning, and love spending time with family and friends.  Laughing is my absolute favorite.

What’s at the top of your bucket list?  To be in a chicken wing eating contest and back squat 350 lbs.

“My favorite KU memory is…” the first time I met Baby Jay!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?  At an early age, I wanted to be an art teacher.  As I got older, I decided that I wanted to be in advertising.  Things changed a bit after graduating college and that’s ok!


Darla Kelly – Graduation Advisor (students last names M-Q)Darla_Kelly_OPT(1) (2)

“I became an advisor because…” I was a student employee all four years as an undergrad. I learned so much and met so many people that made an impact on my life. I knew that after graduation I wanted to continue working in a university setting. After many years in student services roles a career in advising seemed like a natural fit. There’s more to it than discussing degree requirements with students and citing policy. We participate in outreach events and orientation throughout the year and interact frequently with departments campus-wide. It’s that variety that keeps the job interesting! Plus, as a graduation advisor, it’s so rewarding to certify the degree of the students I’ve been working with.

My best advice for college students: KU is a big school. Make it a point to meet new people. They may become your friends for life.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? A hot air balloon ride. My now husband had planned to propose during a hot air balloon ride. Unfortunately high winds called off the launch but it didn’t call off the proposal! I’m still waiting for that balloon ride though…

“My favorite KU memory is…” when the men’s basketball team won the 2008 NCAA championship.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? A teacher. My mother was a teacher, her mother was a teacher and the list keeps going. Growing up, my sisters and I spent many days playing “school”. Two sisters went on to be elementary teachers and the other two of us work at universities.

My super power would be: the ability to get anywhere with a snap of the fingers.


Cortney McKay – Graduation Advisor (students last names C-G)Cortney_McKay_OPT(1)

Undergraduate Major: psychology and political science

“I became an advisor because…” I wanted to continue being immersed in the college environment.

My best advice for college students: Take advantage of your instructor’s office hours.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? I’d love to travel to and explore Austria.

“My favorite KU memory is…” forming close friendships, especially with my roommate who I could laugh with, cry with and depend on throughout the rollercoaster that is college.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? I wanted to be a little bit of everything; mail carrier, actress, writer, photographer, psychologist, disc jockey and teacher.

My super power would be: to grab an umbrella and take flight Mary Poppins style.


David Nikol – Graduation Advisor (students last names R-V)David_Nickol_OPT

Undergraduate Major: Literature, Language & Writing

“I became an advisor because…” The influence, help, and encouragement of my own advisors was tremendous.

My best advice for college students: Engage in research, internships and the expertise of the faculty in your area of study. Get to know the faculty.

My 140-character soapbox: There’s always another party. There’s not always another privilege like the opportunity you have at KU. Make the most of your time!

What’s at the top of your bucket list? Skydiving!

“My favorite KU memory is…” The first time I saw the beautiful campus. “This is Kansas?”

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Probably running a haunted house attraction at an amusement park, or starring in a sitcom.

My super power would be: Flying!



Precious Sanders – Graduation Advisor (students last names A-B, W-Z)sanders_precious

Undergraduate Major: English and history

“I became an advisor because…”  I worked as a Supplemental Instructor and tutor when I was an undergrad, and I was a graduate assistant while pursuing my master’s.  Both were very rewarding, and I discovered that I enjoy working with students and hearing about the things they are pursuing and wanting to do with their lives.  Plus, I really enjoy the experience of being on a college campus.

My best advice for college students:  Follow your passions.  Don’t let the lure of a big paycheck be the sole reason you choose a major.  Oftentimes, what you plan out in college doesn’t end up being the path your life takes.  Besides, the money doesn’t mean a thing if you’re not happy.

What’s at the top of your bucket list?  I really want to go to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum.  I’m a big baseball fan as well as a history buff, so baseball museums are like little pieces of heaven to me.

“My favorite KU memory is…”  My first KU basketball game.  I’ve been to all kinds of sporting events, but nothing like this!  The energy was completely indescribable, and the Rock Chalk chant literally gave me goose bumps.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?  I never had my heart fully set on any one thing, really.  When I was really young, my mom wanted me to be a nurse.  I went through phases of wanting to be a musician, a lawyer, a ballplayer, and a teacher.  In high school, I wanted to be a writer, which was why I became an English major.

My super power would be:  I’d be a Jedi.


Amy Schmidt – Academic Advisor (English, history, and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies)Amy_Schmidt_OPT(1)

Undergraduate Major:  Broadcast Journalism and Ethical Leadership

“I became an advisor because…”  Honestly, I really just LOVE working with college students.

My best advice for college students: This is going to sound cliché coming from an advisor, but meet with your advisor (or any type of mentor) more than just once a semester for enrollment!  I am still in touch with my undergrad advisor today. She wrote one of the reference letters that got me this job… (and my previous job and my undergraduate internship)!

My 140-character soapbox: “your mood should not dictate your manners”

What’s at the top of your bucket list?  Seeing Ios Island in Greece, in real life.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? A veterinarian

My super power would be: being able to teleport… or apparate for the Harry Potter fans out there.


Cynthia Thompson – Academic Advisor (communication studies)Cindy.Thompson

Undergraduate Major: As luck would have it, Communication Studies, which is the department I advise for at this time.

“I became an advisor because…” I did not have the best experience as an undergrad and I wanted to help students by providing them a much more positive experience.

My best advice for college students: Go to class

My soapbox: College is a privilege, accept that privilege and do all that you can with this exceptional opportunity.  Take advantage of every experience offered on campus and off campus that may make you a better citizen…and go to class!

What’s at the top of your bucket list? Successfully raise my children into adulthood

“My favorite KU memory is…” Guest coaching the KU football team

What did you want to be when you were growing up? An elementary education teacher

My super power would be: The ability to fly; not a fan of flying, but I figure it would be cool if I could control it all on my own, no pilot, no mechanical issues, just me and the birds.

Anna van Haandel – Academic Advisor (applied behavioral science, sociology and speech-language-hearing)


Undergraduate Major: History

“I became an advisor because…”As a former student, I know universities can be big confusing places. I wanted to be someone students could come to, to help find their way through their college journey.

My best advice for college students: You get to experience college as an undergraduate once; make the most of it!

My 140-character soapbox: Read emails! Come to appointments on time! Say please and thank you! Common courtesy goes a long way when interacting with faculty, staff and other students.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? I would love to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

“My favorite KU memory is…” This will take people way back, to maybe before they were born. I was 5 in 1988 when KU won the NCAA championship. I remember driving around with my parents honking the car horn and having a feeling of comradery with complete strangers. It is one of my most vivid childhood memories.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? I had a new career every week. It was anything from a nurse to Paula Abdul’s back-up singer.

My super power would be: My super power would be time pause. I recently had my first child, and time seems to be moving too fast now. I would love to have the ability to freeze time.

Advisors can help you “find your and” and decide on majors, double major or minors. Start exploring at