FYAC Staff Spotlight: LaDora Howard
Posted on September 12, 2017 by Yvette Stone
Mrs. LaDora Howard is one of our dedicated veteran advisors in the FYAC. Originally from Sheffield, a small town in the northwest corner of Alabama, Mrs. Howard attended the University of Alabama where she majored in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. She has been married to her husband Gary for 35 years and they have a son, a daughter-in-law, and a daughter. Both of their children have graduated from college and now live in northern Georgia. Mr. Howard is a retired member of the Mobile County Board of Education and Mrs. Howard has worked at South for the past 35 years! While at South, she earned her Master’s degree in Counseling and has served as an academic advisor for the last 25 years.
We sat down with Mrs. Howard to learn more about her, the career path that led her to USA, and any advice she has for current freshmen.
What was your very first job out of college?
After graduation, I moved back home to Sheffield, Alabama to work for the Sheffield Police Department as a radio dispatcher. Community members would call into the police department about all kinds of things. I would answer their call and then dispatch them to the appropriate office or department. I certainly answered some strange calls working there!
What brought you down to Mobile and the University of South Alabama?
I moved down to Mobile after I got married and started working in the USA Police Department. I handled clerical data for about two years before moving to the Public Relations department, where I worked for the next 5 years. In the PR department back in the day, you had different “beats” that you covered. I was responsible for Student Services, which is how I became interested in advising. I thought back to my own experience as an undergraduate. My advisor was a graphic artist, and while he was great, I felt that I could have benefited from a full-time, professional advisor. I wanted to be that for students at South. After I earned my Master’s, I went to work in the Developmental Studies Department as an advisor. I worked there for 23 years until I transitioned over to the FYAC in 2015.
What is one of your favorite things about South?
The students. I enjoy seeing students grow, open up, and blossom during their college careers. Working with students as an advisor, you get to see them find their passion, pursue that passion, finish their degrees to become South alums.
What is something you wish you had known when you were a freshman in college?
That there are a wide variety of campus resources available. I did not use the resources like I should have when I was in college. Coming from a small town to a big university, I did not know what resources were available to help me be successful. At South, resources like JagSuccess, the FYAC, and Career Services can help students, especially freshmen, be successful and thrive during their first year.
What advice you do have for our current freshmen?
To seek out a mentor early on. All successful people, no matter how you define success, need direction and someone to assist them in developing their path. I did not have a strong mentor going through college, but as a first generation student, I had support from my family. Having strong support from family, your advisor, or your faculty members can have a huge impact.
What things do you like to do for fun when you are not hard at work in the FYAC?
Spend time with my family and relax. I love to relax with a good book and just chill. Working with students all day, it is good to go home and unwind.
What is something about yourself that your students might be surprised to know?
My favorite genre of dance is classical ballet. Also, I can’t swim. I can glide all day, but I cannot swim. I made sure my children learned when they were young, but I just never did. My mother was afraid of the water, and while she wanted us to learn, she was worried about us and I never got to take lessons. My mother actually started doing water aerobics in her late fifties and learned to get over her fear. I think it may be one of my bucket list items to learn one day.