Jones College of Business academic adviser Paula Calahan routinely answers emails after hours and on weekends "just to keep in touch with what's going on with the students."
For her ongoing role in helping students succeed, Calahan was recently named the recipient of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) Region III Excellence in Advising-Primary Role award for the state of Tennessee.
An MTSU alumna, Calahan has worked at MTSU for 10 years and has been an adviser for eight of those years -- starting in the College of Mass Communication for the first four years before moving over to the Jones College.
Calahan worked two years on course redesign after earning an educational specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from MTSU in 2011, but was drawn back to advising two years ago.
"My mission is mainly to make students feel like they've found their home away from home," she said of her role as an adviser. "That we ... are people that they can rely on and trust when they are away from their normal support system."
Fellow Jones College adviser Amber Bollinger nominated Calahan for the award, which was presented to Calahan during the NACADA Region III conference held April 13-14 in Covington, Kentucky. Region III covers Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Noting that many of her colleagues are deserving of similar recognition, Calahan said that "it's nice to be recognized" for her work. The university's increased emphasis on student advising and the hiring of more advisers this year sends a strong message of how important advisers are in retaining students and helping them earn their degrees.
"I think that's going to have a huge impact on the student body because we have more people doing what I do," Calahan said.
Founded in 1979, NACADA promotes the quality of academic advising in institutions of higher education. NACADA is dedicated to the support and professional growth of academic advisors, administrators and the advising profession. Through its publications and conferences, NACADA provides a forum for discussion, debate and the exchange of ideas regarding the role of advising in higher education.