Advisor Training Academy helps academic advisors continue to make the grade

A version of this story was originally posted to the WSU Newsroom. 

Every student takes a different path on the journey to graduation. No matter the path, Wayne State’s dedicated team of academic advisors is there from start to finish, providing guidance and support.

Each of the university’s 100 academic advisors plays an integral role in student success by helping inform class and major selection, ensuring degree requirements and deadlines are met, navigating important policies, and more. With more than 27,000 students and nearly 350 degree and certificate programs across 13 schools and colleges, there’s a lot keep up with. 

WSU’s Advisor Training Academy (ATA) is designed to help empower academic advisors through comprehensive and continual training, professional development, and recognition. The ATA — which was modeled after best practices from the National Academic Advising Association by Kate Bernas, associate director, and Cheryl Kollin, director of the University Advising Center — also serves as means of communication and networking for advisors across campus.

“The Advisor Training Academy considers many different components of effective advisor training,” said Bernas. “While they are experts in university policy and degree requirements, WSU’s advisors must also be keenly aware of effective communication skills, changing technology and overall student development.”

The ATA offers a host of opportunities for advising staff, including lunch and learn sessionstraining moduleswebinarsindividual training sessions and more.

“Our advisors are constantly learning and growing professionally so that they can help best support the students,” Bernas said. “The ATA has fostered that growth and helped create a really strong network across campus.”

Ryan Ferrante, an academic advisor in the department of political science, cites the ATA as a strong component of his own development as an advisor.

“The ATA, especially the monthly lunch and learns, has been key to introducing me to advising best practices from around campus and informing me of developments and policies,” he said. “It’s helped provide me with a more in-depth understanding of my role and responsibilities as an advisor.”

For Louise Moceri, an academic advisor in the Mike Ilitch School of Business, the ATA was especially helpful when she returned to her role after taking time away to raise her family.

“I really appreciated the opportunity offered through the ATA to get back up to speed about new policies, procedures and requirements affecting the students I serve,” she said. “It was critically helpful in reconnecting to the advising process. Kate and the whole ATA team actively provide a solid foundation on the fundamentals of academic advising, as well as supportive resources and a network of experienced advisors.”

The ATA also offers two levels of in-house certification. Level 1 certification, designed for new advisors, focuses on understanding WSU and essential skills and competencies. Meanwhile, level 2 certification recognizes advisors who embody the value of “advising as teaching” through professional development. Of WSU’s 100 advisors, 65 — including Ferrante and Moceri — have completed the voluntary certification process.

On Dec. 8, the following Mike Ilitch School of Business advisors were recognized:

  • Level 2 certification:
    • Mary Zinser
    • Heather Laskos
    • Selvana Evans
  • Level 1 certification:
    • Christie Pagel
    • Jay Jessen
    • Janet Mick
    • Louise Moceri
    • Patricia Michno

“I’m proud to display the certificate in my office because it immediately lets students know I am qualified and eager to help them,” said Moceri. “Ultimately, that’s what it’s about — the better we are as advisors, the better equipped we are to help our students achieve their academic and career goals.” 

To learn more, visit the Advisor Training Academy website or email Kate Bernas at