Maureen Valentine’s students believe she is the consummate advisor.
“She will give us advice when handling difficult situations, but the ultimate decision is left up to the student,” says fifth-year student Casey Karsten of the Rochester Institute of Technology professor. “This type of advising leads to a lot of academic and professional growth.”
Which is why Valentine, chair of the civil engineering technology, environmental management and safety department, was awarded the RIT Student Government Outstanding Club Advisor award for her work with the college’s 15- member concrete canoe team.
“It’s fun,” Valentine says. “I love doing something with students that doesn’t involve a grade. This project is so beneficial to students that it’s worth the effort.”
Valentine, a Pittsford resident, has been the team’s advisor since its inception in 1995. The team members annually design a canoe out of concrete, race it in a regional competition and present a paper and oral presentation based on their work. The RIT team has advanced to the national competition five times in its 11-year history.
RIT hosted the regional competition this year. The students did the bulk of the organizing, but they claim that the event wouldn’t have even happened without Valentine’s support.
“We did not know the correct way to deal with RIT administration on multiple occasions,” Karsten states. “She was able to either give us the right avenue to follow or take care of a problem that was over our heads.”
But Valentine understands that her role is often to step back and allow the students to learn independently—even from their own mistakes. Witnessing that growth is the only reward Valentine seeks.
“You really see their leadership skills develop. They do a lot of the work on their own. The decisions are truly their decisions to be made.”
Note: Digital photo available at http://www.rit.edu/news/pics/Maureen_Valentine.JPG