Dezi Waterhouse joined Western Governors University in October 2017 as a program mentor. In this blog, she will reflect on her joy in helping students achieve their educational goals by providing one-on-one guidance throughout their programs.
Can you tell us about your professional background?
I have worked in Higher Education since 2004 and across the country for all types of universities (for-profit, private, non-denominational Christian, non-profit, etc.). I have held positions as an Academic Counselor, Academic Counseling Manager, Director of Academic Success Coaching, and now as a program mentor. While I enjoyed the leadership positions, I am happiest working with students. I love watching them grow and develop throughout their academic journey, and I especially LOVE celebrating graduation with them!
How did you learn about WGU?
I learned about WGU through my membership with NACADA (National Academic Advising Association). I was preparing for the annual conference in Minneapolis in 2014 and found an article about WGU. I found the competency model exciting and wanted to see how Friends could adopt the Success Coach Model to reach more effectively and retain adult learners. When life threw a wrench in my plans in 2017, I knew I wanted to work at WGU. After applying for several positions, I finally made it and have loved it ever since.
What does a typical workweek look like for you?
I have a very flexible schedule, and my work allows me to be a mom, caretaker, and mentor. I have recurring student calls daily and admin blocks scheduled at three different points throughout the day for emails, voicemail returns, or professional development tasks. My favorite part of the day is my communication with students. I like celebrating their wins and troubleshooting their obstacles with them. For as long as some of my days are, they go by fast!
What is your average load in terms of students you work with?
I average between 110-120 students. This sounds like a lot to some people unfamiliar with typical university student loads, but from experience, this is a significant number. I had a lead base of 640 students in various programs and levels at a prior university. Here at WGU, I can be a subject matter expert in the Undergraduate School of Business Management and focus on just this one program.
What is an example of a student success story you'd like to share?
One of the most memorable students I worked with was Luisana Hernandez "Lou" who graduated from the Seattle Commencement this year. Lou came to me as a readmission student in February 2021. She had been out of school since 2018 and was only short five classes to complete her degree. While it took Lou a year to complete her degree, she overcame many personal and academic obstacles. Lou was and is a diversity advocate in her community who also cares for the homeless and promotes the arts. Despite all the many plates she was juggling, she persevered through her most daunting of classes (accounting and finance) and attained her goal of being the first in her family with a college degree. Lou was an inspiration, and I was proud to be able to celebrate with her and her family in Seattle.
Can you tell us about yourself and what you like to do?
I am a single mother to a 13-year-old boy and a caregiver to my parents. I love animals and have a Maltese (Abbey); and two white and black domestic short hair stray cats that have adopted my family (Skittles and MilkyWay). I love reading or Audiobooks, and if I have any free time, you will usually find me at my sewing machine quilting. I love planning projects, building patterns, and the catharsis of making something beautiful.
Is there anything else you want people to know about your job or WGU?
I love working for WGU. WGU provides the opportunity for students to accomplish their academic goals to attain their professional and personal dreams. As a program mentor, I can aid them on that journey. I like that WGU provides relevant resources to help students and knows how to throw a party to celebrate their accomplishments!
WGU also understands that students' success depends on the resources provided, both technological and human contact. The university constantly ensures that technology resources and platforms are relevant and current and that employees can maintain a healthy and balanced work-life balance. As an employee, I have flexible work hours, access to wellness services, and excellent benefits to care for my family and me.