Allison Vander Broek and Ericka Miranda named new senior academic advisors

Senior academic advisors Ericka Miranda (left) and Allison Vander Broek (right) are photographed outside Dowling Hall, which houses the Office of Undergraduate Education. Olivia Bello / The Tufts Daily

Ericka Miranda and Allison Vander Broek joined the advising team as senior academic advisors for the School of Arts and Sciences on Nov. 1. They replace Tara Zantow, who now serves as the senior academic advisor for the School of Engineering.

Senior academic advisors support first-years and sophomores who are exploring majors, understanding degree requirements and planning their academic futures. The School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts each have their own academic advising resources. 

Carmen Lowe, dean of academic advising and undergraduate studies, explained what Miranda and Vander Broek will be contributing to Tufts University’s team of academic advisors. 

“All first-years and sophomores have a pre-major advisor, to whom they should turn first, but [Miranda] and [Vander Broek] can answer many technical questions about academic requirements, pre-matriculation credits, and educational policies that some pre-major advisors may feel uncomfortable answering,” Lowe wrote in an email to the Daily. 

According to a Nov. 1 email from the Arts and Sciences advising team to the Tufts community, Vander Broek previously served as a records coordinator with Tufts Student Services and as a pre-major advisor. During her time with Student Services, she helped students navigate the university’s administrative offices and graduation requirements. As a pre-major advisor, she had the opportunity to teach advising seminars with first-years, including one this fall. 

According to the same email, Miranda previously served as the program coordinator for Tufts Health Professions Advising and the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program. During the pandemic, she worked on the technological aspects of how to connect with students and create accessible content for health professions advising. 

Prior to accepting the senior academic advisor position, Vander Broek had already worked with the advising team in the past.

“[Student Services] worked really closely with them just in helping seniors get to graduation,” Vander Broek said. “I already knew … what their work entailed and knew that they were just a fantastic team who care deeply about Tufts students.”

When the senior academic advisor role opened up, Miranda and Vander Broek jumped at the opportunity to work as full-time advisors because they wanted to work more directly with students. Both described their transition to the advising team as seamless. 

“It’s always nice joining a team where you already know most of the other people and I’ve really, really been enjoying kind of getting connected with some of the other offices in [Dowling Hall],” Vander Broek said.  

Both Vander Broek and Miranda frequently hold drop-in advising hours with students. They also planned the Majors Exploration and Advising Fair held on Nov. 15.

“I am very proud of the work that Ericka and Allison have already done, especially the very successful Majors Exploration Fair … [Miranda] and [Vander Broek] were responsible for organizing the entire event,” Lowe said.

According to Vander Broek, the fair had a great turnout and was a success. The fair is just the beginning of what Vander Broek and Miranda hope to accomplish while on the advising team. 

One of Vander Broek’s priorities is to connect students with as many resources as possible while at Tufts. 

“If students need extra support, or connections to something like the StAAR center, or another office on campus, we’re here to help facilitate connecting you with those resources as you need them,” Vander Broek said.

The new senior academic advisors also hope to find out the areas in which students need additional support or guidance so that the advising team can get students the resources they need. One of their shared priorities is making sure that students are aware that the senior academic advisors are available as a resource.

“My goal is to let students know that we exist … I want you to know we’re available for you at any point during your academic career to answer any questions or provide any guidance,” Vander Broek said.

Miranda encourages students to reach out to their advisors. 

Something that I actually learned when I was in health professions advising, and it’s stuck with me, was that … the most successful students are the ones that know how to ask for help … because being able to ask for help is by no means a weakness,” Miranda said. “In fact, it’s a strength in a lot of ways and being able to recognize when you need help and not be afraid to engage with people who are there to help you.”  

Miranda believes that college should prepare students for the real world. At Tufts, students will learn necessary life skills such as communication, teamwork and responsibility. She said that another important skill set to develop in college is asking for advice. 

“I think being aware of the fact that if you are able to take care of yourself, you will, again, be more prepared to be successful,” Miranda said. “The most successful students are the ones that ask for help.”