Celebrating staff: Meet Stephanie Gillis

Meet Stephanie Gillis, academic advisor in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Science.

Katie Willis - 08 January 2020

As the University of Alberta's largest undergraduate faculty, more than 6,000 undergraduate students call the Faculty of Science home. So who helps them on their journey from admission to convocation? Among countless others in our seven departments, students are also supported by the undergraduate program coordinators in Student Services, led by academic advisor Stephanie Gillis.

Gillis, who has been at the University of Alberta for more than a decade, is one of more than 300 staff members in the faculty. The countless and invaluable contributions of this group make the world go round in the Faculty of Science, and we are thrilled to introduce you.

Meet Stephanie Gillis.

Job title and area:

Academic Advisor. Faculty of Science Student Services

How long have you worked at the Faculty of Science?

My first day was July 4, 2006 as a contract academic advisor. In September 2006, my contract was renewed to advise mornings only-I taught at Holy Trinity High School in the afternoons. By the end of October, I wasn't very happy with the arrangement. After thinking about my future, I made the hardest decision of my life and resigned from teaching to stay and work full time at the Faculty of Science. Between contracts and maternity leave, my official time is more than 12 years and 3 months.

What's a typical day like for you?

Questions, questions, and more questions.

I answer a lot of questions from students, staff, departments, faculty members, and other post-secondary institutions through phone, email, and in-person. Depending on the time of year I will either be working on admissions, academic standing, or convocation-sometimes all three at once.

In addition to this, my day may include: advising students one-on-one, paperwork (study abroad, letters for graduation, transcript updates, degree assessments, transfer credit, etcetera.), meetings, file management and clean-up, Registrar's Office training sessions, and more.

What's the most common question people ask you about your job?

It's not so much a question as a statement, "Oh that's nice you get summers off." I reply, "No, summer is our busiest time of year."

Favourite memory from work?

There was one student who transferred from the United States who I advised throughout her degree. There were many ups and downs, successes and disappointments, both academically and personally, until the end of her degree five years later. She made a point of coming to see me a few days before convocation to thank me personally as she said I was a major part of her getting through life and finishing her degree. She was getting married and had a successful business started with her fiancé. Usually students will graduate and we never hear from them again.

Favourite place on campus?

My office. It's my home away from home, and lots of students comment on how comfy it is.

Favourite thing about working in the Faculty of Science at the University of Alberta?

I'm never bored. You never know who or what kind of situation you will face on any given day, every day of the year.

What would you do for work if you didn't do this?

I'd be a crime scene investigator or an elementary school teacher-but not a lawyer or a bus driver.