Dedicated academic advisors are central to Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students’ success in attaining their career aspirations. They offer knowledgeable, caring and personalized assistance in crafting class schedules, navigating internship opportunities and exploring diverse career paths.

This year, the outstanding contributions of four individuals and the collective efforts of 10 advisors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, AGLS, Advising Hub were recognized with prestigious awards from Texas A&M University. These accolades celebrate their exceptional dedication and commitment to serving the student community, highlighting their efforts in fostering student success and holistic development.

“Throughout our College, we see again and again how excellent mentors can transform students’ lives and careers far beyond the students’ time in our College,” said Jeffrey W. Savell, Ph.D., vice chancellor and dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences. “We are so proud that our advisors are being honored. They exemplify how we want to guide all our students.”

Director of advising for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Jennifer Rhinesmith-Carranza, Ph.D., stands in a blue blazer and a flower top.
Jennifer Rhinesmith-Carranza, Ph.D., earned the Association of Former Students Distinguished Award for individual Student Engagement. (Sam Craft/Texas A&M AgriLife)

Association of Former Students present award to Jennifer Rhinesmith-Carranza

Jennifer Rhinesmith-Carranza, Ph.D., was presented with the Association of Former Students Distinguished Award for Individual Student Engagement. Rhinesmith-Carranza serves as the director of advising for the College. Preceding the directorship, Rhinesmith-Carranza was an academic advisor, serving students in the College in a variety of majors, including animal science, poultry science, forensic and investigative sciences, and entomology. In addition to advising, she also teaches several courses in the Department of Entomology.

According to the nomination criteria, the award serves as a testament to the exemplary dedication, encouragement and support that certain employees demonstrate in their professional relationships with students, inspiring and aiding them on their educational journey.

Rhinesmith-Carranza’s nomination said, “With a professional career in student services spanning over a decade, she has profoundly impacted the lives of students both inside and outside the classroom, serving as an inspiring instructor, a compassionate academic advisor, a dauntless administrator and an invaluable mentor to a multitude of students.”

The nomination added: “Her approach embodies care, compassion and a drive to see students become their authentic selves and to grow through challenges. Jennifer prioritizes compassion in her student interactions, balanced with tough, honest conversations that nurture grit and resilience.”

Rhinesmith-Carranza has won many advising and student relations awards, which stand as a testament to her consistent dedication to going above and beyond. From her novel initiative of implementing after-hours advising sessions for nontraditional or work-bound students to her creation of innumerable “quick access” videos about common advising questions, she is committed to meeting students’ diverse needs.

Carissa Beamon earns two awards

Carissa Beamon was honored with the President’s Award for Academic Advising and the University Advisors and Counselors Excellence in Graduate Advising. Beamon serves as a senior academic advisor for animal science, poultry science and forensic and investigative sciences majors, catering to both graduate and undergraduate students. Additionally, she assumes the Kleberg Advising Hub lead role, overseeing a team of 11 advisors. Beamon started her advising journey in 2016 within the Department of Agricultural Economics.

Carissa Beamon stands with her arms crossed while wearing a maroon blazer and black shirt. She is an advisor for several majors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and oversees a team of 11 advisors in the Kleberg Advising Hub.
Carissa Beamon received the President’s Award for Academic Advising and the University Advisors and Counselors Excellence in Graduate Advising. (Sam Craft/Texas A&M AgriLife)

The President’s Award for Academic Advising is bestowed upon individuals who exemplify exceptional academic advising with a robust grasp of fundamental and innovative advising theories. Similarly, the Excellence in Graduate Advising Award honors academic advisors who help to create and nurture an environment in which highly qualified graduate and professional students can thrive.

Beamon’s efforts have earned her the respect of graduate students, faculty and fellow advisors alike. She actively looks for opportunities to engage with graduate students, hosting student breakfasts and recruiting events and supporting other activities to ensure the graduate students feel appreciated and taken care of.

“Carissa quite literally built the entire graduate advising programming in the Departments of Animal Science and Poultry Science from the ground up,” stated her nomination. “Prior to Carissa’s arrival, the Department of Animal Science had no dedicated graduate advisor. Upon her arrival, Carissa immediately began formulating a student-focused identification of the needs of the established graduate population and worked to know every single graduate student in the department. She created an environment where students felt comfortable in sharing their professional and personal needs.”

The nomination continued: “Carissa’s graduate student methods truly do allow for individual attention for each of her graduate students, and we’ve been told multiple times that she is a saving grace for them.” The nominators also remarked on Carissa’s knowledge, willingness to advocate for and assist international students and to genuinely care about students individually as well as their progress toward their professional degree.

Callan Gearner wears a green blouse while posing for a headshot in front of a grey background. Gearner is an advisor for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Callan Gearner was presented the New Advisor Award by the University Advisors and Couselors. (Michael Miller/Texas A&M AgriLife)

New Advisor Award presented to Callan Gearner

Callan Gearner, academic advisor II, picked up the University Advisors and Counselors’ New Advisor Award. Gearner serves as an academic advisor for entomology as well as forensic and investigative sciences majors. Before assuming her advising role in May 2023, Gearner educated students as a Bryan Independent School District teacher. She earned a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies from Texas A&M in 2016.

The New Advisor Award acknowledges and commends newly appointed professional advising staff members who exemplify qualities of compassionate, skillful guidance and a sincere commitment to the well-being of each student they advise.

Her nomination said Callan has quickly learned the policies, procedures and student rules of Texas A&M. Over the past year, she has attended numerous training courses to continue growing in her role.

“Callan believes in empowering students to play an active role in their education,” the nomination stated. “She is someone who partners with students to help them reach their goals and potential, and she believes it is a collaborative relationship. Her mission is to help equip students with the tools needed to solve problems.”

Kelsey Hirsch accepts Innovative Advising Award

Kelsey Hirsch was honored with the University Advisors and Counselors Innovative Advising Award. Hirsch, academic advisor IV, advises agricultural economics and agribusiness majors as part of the AGLS advising hub. According to Rhinesmith-Carranza, Hirsch has been an integral driver toward the College’s establishment of both a formal and informal food pantry, using innovative ideas to meet pivotal student needs.

Kelsey Hirsch, Academic Advisor III, stands with her hands on her hips while wearing a navy-blue shirt and floral skirt.
Kelsey Hirsch, Academic Advisor III, received the Innovative Advising Award. (Sam Craft/Texas A&M AgriLife)

The Innovative Advising Award honors those who demonstrate exceptional creativity and ingenuity in utilizing technology and advising models to enhance the academic advising process. This recognition celebrates innovative approaches that leverage electronic tools to support and enrich advising experiences.

The day-to-day advising sessions in Hirsch’s office are full of fun, imagination and student self-efficacy. According to her nomination, she is working with known external motivators desired by Gen Z to create ways to increase student buy in.

“Kelsey’s understanding of the need for specialized advising for first-generation college students and her integration of technology like Navigate outreach, student management and tracking student interaction with email campaigns has allowed her to be the project lead of first-gen advising for our hub,” her nomination letter stated.

One support letter writer noted Hirsch’s introduction of a “virtual office.” In contrast to the traditional delay in receiving information from advisors, the virtual office provides timely answers and encompasses a range of resources, guidance on professional degrees and instructional videos on creating degree planners or addressing scheduling concerns.

AGLS Advising Hub recognized

The AGLS Advising Hub was recognized with the University Advisors and Counselors Outstanding Advising Team Award. The team consists of 10 advisors stationed in the AGLS building on campus, serving students in agricultural economics, agricultural leadership, education and communications, hospitality, hotel management and tourism, agricultural science and agribusiness majors.

The Advising Team Award acknowledges the collective efforts of advising teams that have demonstrated exceptional dedication and significantly contributed to student advising. This recognition honors teams that have excelled in various aspects of advising, including supporting advisor professional development, improving communication methods among advisors, implementing effective advisor training programs and developing innovative advising initiatives.

“This dynamic and innovative team is unique in that they continuously seek to expand on conventional advising methods by creating strategies that extend the reach of academic advising beyond the traditional office setting,” their nomination stated. “First and foremost, the AGLS Advising Hub operates under the philosophy that academic advising at Texas A&M University should be a relational student ‘experience’ as opposed to merely a ‘transaction.’”

This nomination added that the team exceeds the normative expectations for advisors by holistically supporting their student populations through original, novel ideas. 

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