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Getting to know Gina Cavanaugh

New academic advisor helps students feel welcome, engaged

Gina Cavanaugh is an academic advisor and transfer coordinator for the College of Public Health and Human Science’s Office of Student Success. She also serves as interim Ecampus advisor for human development and family sciences. Before Gina assumed her role with the college in August, she worked at Bowling Green State University as an academic advisor for the College of Health and Human Services and supervised the Office of Multicultural Affairs Peer Educators. Gina earned her bachelor’s degree in organizational communication from Western Michigan University and her master’s degree in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University.

What made you decide to get into this field? Is there one specific moment that inspired your career path?

“In high school I was involved in many extracurricular activities such as sports, student council, marching band and state/national leadership conferences. Due to this involvement, I considered becoming a high school guidance counselor as a way to inspire future students to be involved. When I started college, I realized there was a whole field doing similar work with college students. After working on campus during my undergrad, I knew higher education was the field for me.”

What do you love about your field? What energizes you?

“I love to see students turn their GPA around. I have worked with a number of students who really struggled in their first term or whole first year. It can be difficult to adjust to college, but if you seek assistance, we can connect you with people all over campus who want to see you succeed.

“I am energized by the students who aren’t afraid to admit when they are feeling lost or wish they were performing better in their classes. This is why we are here.”

Why did you choose to work at Oregon State/CPHHS?

“Oregon State University is a premier research institution that places a huge emphasis on student engagement. Students have the opportunity to be involved in so many diverse experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. Within the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, faculty and students alike are interested in doing work that will have significant positive impacts on the health and well-being of those around them.”

What is your favorite part about working in the Office of Student Success?

“Everyone in the Office of Student Success is extremely kind! They welcome new advisors and new students with open arms and want to see everyone succeed. It is wonderful to be surrounded by so many people who genuinely care about students and who work every day to support them.”

What has been your proudest moment in your work so far?

“While earning my master’s degree and working as an academic advisor, I was named Graduate Advisor of the Year. It was a true honor to be recognized not only by my students and colleagues within the college, but also by the academic advising community as a whole.”

How do you strive to affect people’s lives with your work?

“I believe listening can be one of the most powerful gifts you can give to someone. For students far from home or those who are the first in their family to attend college, there may not be people in their lives who understand what they are experiencing.

“I hope to make students’ lives better by giving them the knowledge and skills to advocate for themselves throughout college and beyond.”

What is one surprising thing about you that not many people know?

“I have been to 29 states, and it’s my goal to visit all 50!”

What are your favorite activities outside of work?

“I’m a huge sports fan, so I spend a lot of time watching and playing sports. I also enjoy being outdoors, hiking, camping and fishing.”