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Lisa Parkinson

Academic and Career Advisor

WSC 2500

What was your major exploration path?

I started out as a communications/journalism major. I loved writing and learning about current events; particularly about those that impacted people, societies, and cultures. I didn’t officially change my major in the system, but I thought about pre-med and nursing. I was (and still am) fascinated by our bodies and what they can do. And I wanted to be able to help others when their bodies didn’t do what they wanted them to do or if they were born with different health challenges. But then I thought about the people aspect and anticipated that I would become attached to my patients in some way and potentially be traumatized if they died. I grew up playing sports and played competitively in high school. I ended up having a rotator cuff surgery (on my shoulder) and went to physical therapy. I decided that physical therapy was a field where I could work with people in the health field, develop great relationships, see people’s lives and well-being improve, and nobody should die on my watch (or I would be an awful physical therapist). 

What jobs and careers have you had since college?

I started working in the BYU Admissions Office after college. I had a part-time job there as a student working in the international admissions area and was able to become one of the specialists who evaluated their foreign transcripts and equivalencies and helped prepare government documents to help them obtain student visas. 

My next job felt like a big jump for me. I moved from staff to administrative after working for less than a year. I moved to the BYU School Relations office where I served as an area representative and multicultural student recruiter. I presented Church Educational System (CES) firesides all over the United States and Canada to talk about the importance of education and to help parents, students, schools, and leaders learn about BYU and other options within CES. As an introvert who was also shy and did not like public speaking, it was a huge growth opportunity! I ended up speaking in front of audiences as big as 2,500 in large arenas and ended up loving it. 

I moved to the BYU Multicultural Student Services office to be one of the counselors to work with underrepresented populations in the U.S. I continued to work with multicultural student recruitment and had the opportunity to run a cultural program (Fiesta) and focus on the helping the Summer of Academic Refinement (SOAR) students. 

After a few years as a counselor in the Multicultural Student Services office as a counselor, I became the director of the office. That is the position I served in the longest during my time at BYU (for about 10 years). It was a blessing to be able to serve the needs of the students as well as the full-time and part-time staff in the office. I was able to gain experience in the business operations, direction and vision, and leadership. The experiences were invaluable in my development as a person and professional. 

I moved to the BYU OneStop office as a counselor where I worked with financial aid, scholarships, admissions, transfer evaluation, discontinuance, and early alert with students. I had the opportunity to broaden my university knowledge and learn detailed skills to help bless the lives of students behind the scenes so they could focus on their educational goals. It is an area where I worked with students facing different hardships or that received unwanted news and it helped me develop better empathy and listening skills. We all need one another in our educational journeys and it was good for me to see how every student has his/her own narrative and may at times just need a little extra assistance to make things work well. 

And finally, here in the University Advisement Center (UAC)! I am an academic and career advisor in the UAC. I have loved exploring options with students and dreaming big with them and then identifying paths to pursue that could potentially help them reach their goals and dreams. It is an honor and a pleasure to engage in this type of personal work with students as they engage in their undergraduate experiences. 

All of my work experiences have been within higher education and here at BYU. The experiences have been varied and I have loved each area where I have served! 

What are your areas of specialty when it comes to advising? 

I love working with first-generation college students! My dad was a first-generation college student and I can see how he would have benefited from some additional help and advisement along the way. I also feel like their courage to be the first in their family to experience higher education and earn a degree is to be respected and admired! 

I also have a love of working with students from underrepresented populations. Being part of an underrepresented population myself, I know first-hand some of the challenges that students may face that other students may not need to worry about. I also love learning about different people, cultures, backgrounds, and traditions…and of course I love trying all the different foods! Yum! 

Listening for individual student stories. Students have their own personal stories. And whether or not they are able to articulate it yet, I love to listen to where they are currently and then share perspectives with one another. I think gaining an education is more than just choosing a major and I love seeing the journeys students embark upon and the different twists and turns that may occur as part of their journey. And then to see where they “end up” when it is all said and done is fun…because sometimes those things cannot be anticipated in advance. Many of the very best “endings” are fun surprises for all involved! 

What are some of your hobbies and interests? 

I love spending time with my husband and family. When I am with them, anything is fun! 

Anything outdoors – love to hike and enjoy unexplored paths 

Sports – I like to play just about anything and sometimes can get a bit competitive! 

Sewing or crafting – I am not a super creative person, but I like to pretend that I am and do things to try! 

Traveling – enjoying new places, people, cultures, and of course the food. Is it bad that I say that I like to eat?!? (No judging please! 😊) 

Are you involved with any groups or organizations on campus?  

Advisor In-service Committee co-chair. I serve on a committee that works with the various people on campus that serve students in advisement capacities. We try to learn as much as possible about current student needs and provide training and information for the advisement community to best meet those student needs. 

Civil Rights Seminar – The College of Family Home and Social Sciences provides a class that explores the frameworks, concepts, models, and examples from the Civil Rights Movement. We explore and grapple with the courageous, difficult, and complex history of race relations in the United States and encourage and foster a “beloved community” at BYU. 

Student Development Professor – I teach ST DEV 109 - Effective Studying and Learning, ST DEV 117 - Career Explorations, and ST DEV 214R - Test Taking Strategies and Preparation. I collaborate to help teach FHSS 350 – Civil Rights Seminar and IAS 397R – Race: Myths and Realities.