AATS Staff Spotlight: Ali Botsis
Posted on August 24, 2018 by Anna Traylor
Ms. Ali Botsis is a pre-health advisor in Academic Advising & Transfer Services. She was born and raised in Mobile and earned her BS in Exercise Science and MS in Exercise Science from South. We sat down to learn more about her and hear any advice she has for incoming freshmen.
How long have you been at South?
I’ve been at South for nearly ten years: six as a student and going on four as an employee. I was here the first season the football team started - Go Jags!
What brought you to South?
I grew up in the area. My older brother went here, and it was a natural fit. I love South; it’s like home.
What did your education journey look like?
I started out on a pre-physical therapy path my first semester. I thought I wanted to go to graduate school, but I hadn’t declared a major yet. My second semester, I found Exercise Science, learned about the program, and was sold. I also decided then that I didn’t want to pursue physical therapy. I focused on Exercise Science, added a Psychology minor, and entered the graduate program as a graduate assistant.
How did you get into advising?
I tutored with Student-Athlete Academic Services from my freshman year through most of graduate school. As a graduate assistant, I taught tennis, step aerobics, and PE 100. I got connected with students and found I really loved working with them. Right before graduation, a job in academic advising opened up, and my boss recommended it as a good fit for me. Being an academic advisor wasn’t on my radar at all until then. It’s been an awesome fit. It’s funny how things work out: you’re not always where you think you’ll end up. I teach a section of PE 100 each semester.
What do you wish you knew as a freshman?
Since my older brother went to South before me, college wasn’t foreign. I wish I knew Career Services existed earlier. I only went my last semester of graduate school, but don’t be like me. They can help freshmen, too!
What do you want this year’s incoming class to know?
On the academic side, I want them to know there’s always someone there to support them. We have tons of academic support on campus like academic advising, Counseling & Testing, Success Center, and the Writing Center. Students just need to reach out and let someone know if there’s something they need assistance with. Our ultimate goal is for students to feel supported and be successful.
Non-academically, I want students to know there are a lot of fun things to do on-campus: intramurals, clubs, organizations, speakers, etc. Find something fun for stress relief and to meet new people.
How do you define success?
When I was a student, I thought having an A (like a 100!) was being successful. If I didn’t have an A, I didn’t think I was successful. Now I know that’s not a good measure. Putting your best foot forward, working hard, and learning is what constitutes success, even if that means you get a B. Excellence is not an act but a habit. Success is found in striving for excellence and doing the best you can in classes, clubs, relationships, and volunteering.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?
I’d say the best piece of advice I’ve ever given is to find something you love. Choosing a major is a big, scary decision. I didn’t know what I would do in the end when I chose mine, but I loved it. If I hadn’t followed that path, I wouldn’t have gotten involved with students. Find something you love, and dedicate yourself to it. Get involved, and doors will open for you.
What is one thing you wish you hadn’t done as a college student?
I wish I hadn’t put so much pressure on myself to be “perfect.” If I could go back, I’d try to enjoy college a little more and not be quite so stressed about school.
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
I played trumpet in high school and was the assistant drum major. I was also the student conductor and conducted at a district concert. At South, I was the graduate student homecoming maid.
What is your favorite saying?
My high school band director often said, “There’s no hope for the satisfied mind.” I always think about that. We should be content but not satisfied. A satisfied mind can stagnate, but in order to thrive, we should have a learning frame of mind. There’s always something to learn, and that’s what makes life interesting!