by Leah Jackson

Dr. Brian Gabrial and Jacqueline Horton were recognized as Northwestern State University’s 2021 Faculty Advisors of the Year. The award is annually presented to faculty advisors based on nominations by students and selected based on knowledge, helpfulness and accessibility.

“The past academic year has been exceptionally challenging when faculty were required to use alternative platforms to advise students with virtual meetings and other avenues,” said Dr Greg Handel, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.  “As we were not able to honor these recipients in person, I urge you, at your leisure, to watch a brief video on both recipients, and congratulate them when you have the opportunity to do so.”

Gabrial is the Wise Endowed Professor of Journalism in the Department of New Media, Journalism and Communication Arts and immediate past head of the department. He teaches Media Law and Ethics and Capstone 1: Communication Competencies (and Portfolio) and until this semester supervised Capstone II (internship class). He currently advises 51 students, a number that will be reduced as the new department head takes over.  As the former department head, he supervised all seniors, student athletes, transfer students and new freshmen.

Gabrial’s video can be accessed here:

Students who nominated Gabrial for the honor cited his care and support as meaningful to his advisees.

“Through everything that I have communicated to Dr. Gabrial, he has supported me every step of the way and pushed me to do my best,” one student wrote.  “He has always gone out of his way to not only make sure I was on the right path but to make sure that I stayed afloat through it all. Through COVID, Dr. Gabrial never let up and made sure that he was always in touch. Through WebEx meetings and phone calls and even when we were able to meet face-to-face, he assured me that I was on the right path. Outside of this, Dr. Gabrial always made sure to check on my physical and mental being during this time. In addition, Dr. Gabrial always found a way to take my strengths and amplify them to make sure I never lost sight of my goals. His level headedness and adjustment to change has made him an exceptional mentor through the pandemic and all of our country’s issues.”

“I don’t have an advising philosophy per se, other than to first be receptive to advisees’ questions and keep them on track with their program and second be honest and direct with advisees about their progress or lack of progress and third to be accessible.  Waiting days to respond to an advisee’s query is not acceptable. And finally, to be a good listener,” Gabrial said. 

Horton is the program instructor for the Child and Family Studies program and instructor for the culminating courses that are required for students nearing the end of the bachelor’s degree curriculum.  Each student must perform an official internship that requires integrated experiences at an agency that works with children and their families. She also teaches classroom management to teacher candidates performing their residency. She is assigned about 100 of the nearly 200 CVS majors and minors enrolled in the program.

Her video can be viewed here :

A student nominating Horton for the award said that as a non-traditional student looking to complete a degree nearly 30 years after dropping out of school, Horton treated her with patience and understanding throughout a challenging academic journey.

“Mrs. Horton remained in constant contact with me and witnessed some very traumatic personal events unfold in my life.  She continued to encourage me and push me in those moments when I felt like it was too much to bear.  She constantly told me that she saw something in me and wanted to make sure I knew ‘it’ was in me as well,” the student wrote. “Mrs. Jacqueline Horton is far more than an advisor, faculty member or instructor.  She is an amazing, lifelong friend that was sent at the perfect time.  I will forever be grateful for everything she has ever done. Although I have personally only known her for a little over a year, she has made such a profound impact on my life.”

“My philosophy of advising is very simple … students first,” Horton said.  “Instruction during the pandemic has been modified to meet the needs of the students. It was necessary during the lock-down to answer emails and communications promptly, and to provide as much specific instruction and direction as possible, while setting clear and concise expectations. All students need to know that their instructor cares about their success.  This means staying in touch frequently, providing timely and detailed feedback, and providing encouragement and support consistently. This award means a great deal to me specifically because the nomination originated with students.  My greatest joy as an educator is watching and helping students achieve their goals, getting to know them, and building meaningful relationships.”

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