Teamwork for student athletes not only involves their teammates but also their academic advisors.
“Being a student-athlete is a juggling act,” said Dwanna Jacobs, one of four athletic academic advisers at Florida A&M. “They have to juggle school and athletics and it’s my job to ensure their success on the academic side.”
In a portable building on the corner of Perry Street and Ardelia Court there is a constant flow of students whose college careers are spent not only in a classroom, but on a battlefield representing the university. The building houses all the athletic academic advisers, a study hall and a computer lab where athletes can complete their school work.
Jacobs and the other advisers-Travis Green, Jeanese Frison, Joyce Thomas, along with learning specialist Dana Walker, work hard to advise and guide student-athletes of the 18 different sports on campus.
“It’s our job to ensure student-athletes are advised for classes, matriculate, remain eligible to play and graduate,” said Green, who deals primarily with football.
With more than 300 student-athletes who use the center, there is about a 75-1 student-adviser ratio. The four advisors started work four years ago. Before that, only one adviser served the needs of all the student-athletes.
“We are each assigned different sports, so we can give more individual attention to the athletes and making sure they are on track to graduate,” Green said.
These advisers are fixtures in the lives of FAMU student-athletes as soon as they arrive on campus. During recruiting visitations, the advisers organize a career forum for the athletes to explore the different programs and schools the university offers.
The expectations of a student-athlete are the first thing on the list when recruiting the athlete.
“I graduate student-athletes,” said Thomas, an athletic adviser. “I am an adviser for athletics in oppose to an athletic advisor.”
Graduation is the top priority for these advisers when it comes to their athletes. The advisers keep a folder for each athlete as they matriculate through the university.
Each athlete’s progress towards a degree, class schedules and any other academic information that is obtained is tracked and organized.
“A lot of my guys call me mama,” Jacobs said. “Because I believe in serving more than just the student and the athlete. Some of these kids go through things and just need someone to talk to.”
Advisors are able to develop mentor like relationships with student-athletes while tracking their progress through their four to five years at the university.
“A friendship” is how Green simply puts it. “It’s the transition from teen years to young men that makes it special. I get to see them grow. They will always have someone to come and talk to when they need it.”