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Jill Nakatsu, director of academic affairs in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Engineering, has received the 2023 Outstanding Advising Award–Primary Advising Role by the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).

The award is part of NACADA’s Global Awards Program for Academic Advising, which honors individuals and institutions making a significant impact on academic advising.

“I was not expecting to win so I was super stoked when I got the award notification,” Nakatsu said. “NACADA is an international authority on academic advising. I know there are so many advisors out there doing awesome work so I am truly honored to be recognized by them with one of their outstanding academic advisor global awards.”

The NACADA selection committee evaluated nominees based on 17 criteria, including evidence of student success rate by advisor or department; caring, helpful attitude towards advisees, faculty and staff; and monitoring of student progress toward academic and career goals.

Nakatsu earned a bachelor’s and master’s from UH Mānoa’s College of Engineering. In between her degrees, she worked as a product engineer for Medtronic Inc. in Arizona. Nakatsu said her experience working in the industry has helped her as an advisor.

“I am able to provide detailed examples of what engineers do at work to students who are still deciding if an engineering major is a good fit for them,” Nakatsu said. “And I provide advice to our soon to be graduating students on how to approach applying for their first engineering jobs and navigating the start of their engineering careers. I focus on helping connect the dots between engineering school and career for my students because I remember it was not obvious for me back when I was an engineering student.”

Nakatsu wants to thank everyone at the college, her past and current advisors and mentors, the academic advisors and counselors at UH Mānoa and the UH community colleges, and the students for helping her learn to be a better engineer and advisor.

“Choosing to attend the UH Mānoa College of Engineering was probably one of the best choices I have ever made,” Nakatsu said. “It allowed me to get an excellent education and engineering research experiences at home. Then with that I was able to get a great engineering job on the continent after finishing my undergraduate studies. And because of the lasting connections I made in my undergraduate program, I was able to easily move back to Hawaiʻi and transition to working in engineering education. I am a proud alum of the UH Mānoa College of Engineering and hope I can help provide those same invaluable experiences for our current students.”

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