Gatepost Interview: Veronica LaPlante – Academic Advisor

What is your professional and educational background?

I had my undergrad in psychology from Bridgewater State, and I have my master’s in mental health counseling from Salve Regina. So, I actually had a private practice for about 14 years as a mental health counselor and actually as a hypnotherapist. Then I’ve also been working in advising for about 11 years at different universities and schools. 

What brought you to Framingham State?

I had actually made a job change in 2019. So, July 1, 2019, I switched back to more of a case-managing position within the university and college setting. It was a one-year contract, and I decided I didn’t really want to get back into the counseling aspect. I enjoy advising a lot more because there’s a lot more hope. If someone’s working toward their education, they have a little hope for the future. Even if they’re struggling, they still have a teeny weeny bit of hope. So, I wanted to get back into advising.

What made you interested in advising students?

Honestly, it was hope. I remember it was the summer, like 11 years ago, and I was reading a job description, and it was for an academic advising position at the time. It’s just this positivity. This is a step forward like you’re going somewhere. You can take a student – the student can have a horrific background and have all these struggles that they’ve had to deal with, but they’re still trying to work toward something positive and make changes in their life, and I can help them in the future. I think higher education is really important.

What is your number-one piece of advice to students?

Stay engaged. Ask questions. I have an 18-year-old who just started her freshman year and I’m sure she’s tired of hearing me say ask questions, ask questions, ask questions, ask questions. Ask questions of your advisors. Ask questions of your professors. If you’re engaged with your professor and you’re asking questions and you’re talking to that person, you’re more apt to do well in the class. So, my number-one advice is to stay engaged by asking questions.

How do you advise when students come to you? 

I am more proactive. Generally, … because of my background, because of the way I work with students, I like to engage with them on a regular basis, so that they feel supported and know they can come to me if they have any academic problems. So, I’m reactive if someone comes to me and I haven’t talked to them yet, but more often than not, I’m emailing my students and trying to stay on top of what’s going on in the semester, what’s going on in their lives, and keep them engaged with the University – especially now with the pandemic. A lot of students, especially the freshmen – they’re not [engaged]. How do you start your freshman year and get engaged when you have to live off campus and start taking college classes online, which are terribly hard?

What would students be surprised to know about you?

I’m a hypnotherapist. I’m a cancer survivor. And I’ve run two marathons.