Five Questions with Christi Horton
Last month, Christi Horton was named the new Director of Advising at San Antonio College. The daughter of missionaries, Horton grew up primarily in Mexico and Honduras before moving to the United States to go to high school.
She was a first generation college student who went to receive a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake. Even back then, she was influencing students' lives. Her father, who had not finished college, decided to return to school and graduated at the same time as Christi.
She later attended the University of Texas at San Antonio where she received her master's in counseling while working full-time.
How long have you been at SAC?
I have been here for 13 years. I started as an adjunct counselor. I came in under Perkins funding and I worked with a special student population and taught student development.
Five years ago, I started working at the Empowerment Center where I did career counseling, personal counseling, and I led our advising team after we adopted the Alamo Advise model.
What are some of your duties as Director of Advising?
My priority is to ensure that all students receive effective and comprehensive advising services that lead to their success through graduation, transfer, and employment. Another priority is to ensure that the certified advisors have the continued training and tools they need to be effective in their provision of advising services.
What do you see as your mission and what do you want to accomplish?
The ultimate mission of course, is to ensure that every student has advising experiences that are useful and positive. The ultimate compliment is for a student to say "I was able to stay in school because (that advisor) helped me find resources." Or "I graduated on time because (that advisor) took the time to guide me."
I have a vision for the center. There is a national award, the NACADA Advising Award, given by the National Academic Advising Association. I would like to develop our advising program to the point that we can contend for and win that award by 2020.
NACADA is an organization that promotes and supports quality academic advising at higher education institutions.
The reason I want that for us is not to just to say that we won the award. It is because layered within that award is everything that defines success in advising. To get that award would mean that we are proven to be effectively collaborating with students, that we are positively impacting their success in our college, doing our part to see that they are retained, and they have the tools, support, and information they to succeed semester after semester in order to graduate and transfer.
What are the challenges for the Advising Department?
The challenges are really going to be in evaluating and improving every component of advising, as well as making sure the staff have the support and the training they need to do an exceptional job.
In terms of challenges with students, we know that a large percentage of our students work. They have families. Just like most of us, they experience obstacles in meeting their goals. But if they have the tools and the resources, our students are very capable and motivated to overcome those obstacles. So the challenge lies in continuing to find effective and innovative ways to support and advise students so that they graduate on time and are able to experience a seamless transfer to a university.
It's really a partnership between the certified advisor and the student. SAC is also working on a faculty mentoring piece so it becomes a three-person collaborative. Within that environment, with that relationship, lies success. How can success not result when you have a motivated student, a well-equipped certified advisor, and a faculty mentor that is an expert in the field into which the student is going? You can't go wrong.
What do you like to do when you are away from SAC?
I work out but I don't like to. I do hot yoga because it helps to manage stress. I love to spend time with my husband and our animals.
I love to read. It's a good escape. Right now for the most part, my time is spent reading things related to my work, like the "60X30 plan," and board reports but enjoy reading books by James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell. And I also believe that you can never have too many shoes!