When Undergraduate Adviser Joni Marts meets with a Jackson School student, she takes a holistic approach to giving advice. “I feel very connected with our students,” she said. “And I want to make sure they have tools they can use to create a solid pathway through their majors and beyond.”
In June, Marts received the JSIS Student Service Award. The annual award, selected by students, goes to a faculty or staff member in the Jackson School and is presented by the Jackson School Student Association during the Spring Convocation ceremony.
“It was an incredible surprise for me!” Marts said. “It was particularly meaningful because I’m so proud to be part of this School and work with wonderful colleagues who care about our students.”
Marts said that knowing what a student wants to do after graduating and outside of the classroom is important. “I listen when students share their stories. Sometimes, life details come up that aren’t necessarily class related. They can have a major impact on how students approach their academic careers and it’s significant to understand that relationship.”
Marts has worked at the Jackson School since 2009, but has been at the University of Washington for more than 20 years, until recently sharing her advising duties with the Department of Anthropology.
This arrangement was beneficial for Yolanda Altamirano, who graduated in spring 2014 with double majors in international studies and anthropology. “Joni had the bigger picture of all my university classes,” she said. “She made it easier for me to graduate with two majors.”
Altamirano understands of the importance of advising from her own perspective as a program assistant this summer with the Foundation for International Understanding through Students in Seattle. She said students feel positive about meeting with someone who is enthusiastic about their futures. “I was really happy when Joni received it,” Altamirano said of the award.
Director of Academic Services Wolf Latsch said it’s important for students to be able to trust their advisers and that the award recognizes this trust. “Joni is an advising natural. She is empathetic, patient, dedicated and knowledgeable. Students are comfortable with her.”
Recent graduate Maria D’Angelo was a European studies major and came to the UW as a transfer student. Marts worked with her through the sometimes-complicated task of applying credits from previous schools. “I always appreciated how patient she was,” D’Angelo said. “She took the time with students to make sure our needs were met.”
Marts said the interdisciplinary nature of a Jackson School degree holds interest for students with far-reaching interests. “The Jackson School plays well with others,” she said. “Our faculty are drawn from many disciplines, and they continue to make internationally noteworthy achievements. In today’s global-savvy learning environment, students are attracted to the offerings from our School.”
Marts has always held a fascination with world travel and was, in fact, a travel agent early in her professional life. Most recently, she went to Italy with her 21-year-old daughter and visited the UW Rome Center, where many of her advisees have taken classes. “Italy was fabulous – culture, history, great food! I wish all of our students could travel there at least once,” she said. What’s next on her travel agenda? “I’m hoping to go to England, Ireland and Scotland. The ancestors are calling!”
In the meantime, Marts is happy working with the advising team and the myriad of seven majors and 16 minors offered at the Jackson School. “Coming to the UW can be equivalent to being dropped into the middle of a big city, which can be daunting,” she said. “We try our best to turn it into a friendly neighborhood.”