AATS Staff Spotlight: Bob Charlebois
Posted on February 8, 2019 by Anna Traylor
Bob Charlebois joined University of South Alabama in August 2016 as the Transfer Coordinator. In that role he was tasked with implementing the Pathway USA program. Pathway USA works with future South transfer students from four area colleges, helping them develop sound academic plans, find resources to support academic success and become familiar with South's campus and resources, while still working toward their associate degree. Before Pathway USA, Bob ran a similar transfer student transition and support program at Appalachian State University in North Carolina where he also did his Master of Arts in Higher Education Leadership. He has worked in Higher Education for over ten years.
What was your educational journey like?
My first year of college I was a Chemical Engineering major and hated it. I transferred from a private engineering school to a small state university in western New York. I switched my major to communications and graduated in media communications. Later in life, after a couple of different jobs and moves, I went back to school at a community college in hotel management and culinary arts. Getting back into school made me realize how much I liked it at that point in my life, as an adult. When I was doing the culinary program, I started thinking about working on my master’s. I got half way through a master’s in English education and moved, so I didn’t end up finishing it. After I started working at Appalachian State University, I did my master’s in Higher Education Leadership part-time there.
How long have you been advising?
I have been advising since 2011. I started at the end of spring semester, right after I finished my Master’s. My first advising job was in the College of Business at Appalachian State.
What drew you to advising?
I was working at the university and on my master’s and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I just knew I wanted to work with students. One night I sat down and looked through the university website, looking at different offices to think about what they actually did. Advising stood out. The next day I contacted director of the university advising center and asked if I could come hang out there a couple hours a week to see what they did. I loved it and really took to it. I graduated, and an advising job popped up. That’s where I started.
How did you get to South?
My family is from the northern part of New York state; my wife’s is from the Florida Panhandle. We were living in the middle not seeing either, so we wanted to move closer to one and where it would be easier to get to the other place. We were looking generally in the South and the job at South came up. I did a break-out session at the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students annual conference in February; this job posted in March or April. It turns out that the director of Academic Advising and Transfer Services at South was at the same conference and attended my break-out. It was the right place at the right time that got us down here.
What’s your favorite thing about advising?
I love working with students. Advising is one of the more substantial ways of working with a student. As a professor, you could be in a class with 100 or 30 people, but it’s still pretty big. You might be teaching a lot of students and multiple sections. Advising is one-on-one interaction with students. You’re able to work closely with each student and affect their education in some way - help open up opportunities, point them in directions they may not have thought about, educate them on what their education means and how it all fits together. As a result of that, I’m still in touch with some of the students I advised in 2012. I’ve seen them go into the world and start businesses and be successful. I also still have students from last year come visit me and tell me how things are going at South. It’s a personal way of working with students.
What’s your motto?
In terms of advising, my motto is what does this student in front of me need right now. Do they need a plan for the next semester, academic help, somebody to complain to, or to share success? What do they need?
What would you be doing if it wasn’t advising?
I do some metal work and sterling silver jewelry-making. I would probably like to be doing something related to that. I have an Etsy store but it’s currently in permanent vacation mode.