The Allen School undergraduate advisers have earned the inaugural “team award” presented as part of the University of Washington College of Engineering Awards, an annual tradition acknowledging the extraordinary contributions of faculty, staff, and students to the college community. The team award recognizes a group of employees who together have made a significant impact within the College and demonstrated the values of innovation, collaboration, leadership, diversity, creativity, agility, and risk-taking.
The undergraduate advisers tick all of those boxes and more. These dedicated individuals provide personalized guidance and support to more than 1,100 undergraduate majors — and to countless students, parents, and K-12 teachers outside of the school through various outreach initiatives. This small but mighty team, which is the heart and soul of the school’s efforts to provide an exceptional student experience, includes:
- Crystal Eney, Director of Student Services
- Raven Avery, Assistant Director for Diversity & Outreach
- Jenifer Hiigli, Academic Adviser–Senior
- Maggie Ryan, Academic Adviser
- Chloe Dolese, Academic Adviser
- Lacey Schmidt, Academic Adviser
- Pim Lustig, Course Coordinator
As the school has grown in size and stature, the advising team has successfully adapted and scaled its activities. During the past year, the advisers managed nearly 3,600 student meetings — a 30% increase over the previous year — and instituted a number of internal process improvements to meet student needs with efficiency and empathy. As part of their ongoing efforts to improve the student experience, the advisers worked with faculty, staff, and students to form the Allen School’s diversity committee and also developed and led seminars for new transfer students and women in computing.
In addition to providing academic guidance and championing the interests of current and prospective students, this group assists the Allen School faculty with curriculum and course management; oversees a variety of K-12, community and technical college, and cross-campus outreach activities; and mentors student leaders of programs such as the UW chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and Allen School Student Advisory Council. Members of the advising team also oversee the peer advisers, who offer student-to-student advice on a variety of academic and non-academic issues, and administer the teaching assistant (TA) program — including roughly 150 undergraduates assist faculty in delivering an unparalleled educational experience to students enrolled in Allen School courses.
“The Allen School advisers have grit, empathy, and great passion for their work,” said Rajneil Rana, who serves as an Allen School peer adviser. “They guide countless students along the path to success, and they exceed expectations without expecting recognition — which is precisely why they deserve to be recognized!”
The College community will formally recognize the team’s contributions at a reception for faculty, staff, and students this afternoon. At the same event, the College also will honor Dean’s Medalist Kaitlyn Zhou, a senior in computer science and human centered design and engineering. As the founding chair of the Allen School’s Student Advisory Council, Zhou has witnessed firsthand the advising team’s dedication and willingness to work with students to enhance the student experience and build a stronger community.
“I had met Crystal a few times in advising but did not know her personally. At an event, I casually brought up this idea of starting some sort of advisory council for students within CSE and she was immediately interested,” recalled Zhou. “I think we stood in the back of this event for 30 minutes, talking about what an advisory council could look like and what it could mean for the school. I sent her a written proposal that night, and within a week, I had met with Jenifer, Maggie, and Chloe about next steps.
“Crystal’s receptiveness to new ideas and student opinion was critical in the creation of our student group,” she continued. “She and Maggie have been our champions since the start and we wouldn’t be here without them.”
Zhou’s praise for the advisers is echoed by the faculty and school leadership who work with them. “They are an amazing group of professionals — caring people who are totally committed to improving the lives of our students,” said Allen School Director Hank Levy. “Their work is crucial to the student experience and the success of our program.”
Congratulations and way to go, team!