“My favorite thing about these areas of study is that students often discover them after entering college—these are generally not subjects students are able to study in high school,” said Herndon. “I enjoy discussing students’ newfound interest in these disciplines.” She also notes that many students in these programs pick up minors across other departments she advises.
Herndon understands from personal experience that not all paths to a degree look the same. She recently earned a doctorate in higher education at IU Bloomington while continuing to carry out her advising role in the College.
“Dr. Herndon began counseling me as a nontraditional student at Ivy Tech, returning to IU for the first time in a decade,” said Rachel Gray, a double major in Linguistics and African American and African Diaspora Studies. “She was a major part in my decision to come to IU and helped make the transition and transfer of credits seamless. Her advice has been a major part of my success at Indiana University.”
Herndon’s care for students has earned her the honor of being the only active advisor to receive the College’s Advisor of the Year award twice; she won her first award in 2009. It isn’t just the interest she shows in students’ academic progress that helps her forge such strong connections—it’s the way she cares for all aspects of their well-being.
“I appreciate Krystie because she so clearly cares about my life, but also because she welcomes people into her life by sharing updates about herself during our meetings,” said Mikhael Hayes, a Linguistics major. “I was really pleased to hear about her pursuit of a doctorate these past couple of years, and she even invited me to her dissertation defense.”
Herndon’s dissertation focused on the development of strong cultural identities among undergraduate students. Her work in the College has helped shape her own professional identity which now includes a campus-wide leadership role.
“Several years ago, I was invited to participate in a task force on the relationship of academic advising to all other entities on campus,” says Herndon. “My work on one of the task force sub-committees brought me to the attention of the Office of the Vice President for Undergraduate Education, and I was invited to join the design committee for the Advising Professional Contributions Tool, an electronic application used by all IUB advisors to articulate the many duties we perform in our jobs, outside of meeting with students.”
Herndon also maintains close relationships with faculty in the departments she represents. She is a member of the Undergraduate Affairs Committee in each of her departments and uses this position not only to learn about upcoming curriculum changes, but to inform faculty members how these changes could affect students.
No matter how many projects she may find herself involved in or how many awards she may win, Herndon’s main goal is simple: “I want to leave a legacy of College alumni who maintain connections to the College and to their major departments,” she explained. “I want to encourage graduates to be willing and eager to share their experiences and professional networks with current students and recent graduates. As a born connector, I revel in keeping in touch with them during that long stretch past college…called life.”
Story by Grace Robblee