A holistic approach
“I’ve been on all sides of the coin now. I loved being a student at Stanford. I loved being an instructor. Now as a staff member, I feel well equipped to help demystify the higher education landscape for undergrads,” said Joey Nelson, PhD ‘17, who works as an Academic Advising Director (AAD) for the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE).
Nelson helps undergraduate students work through their academic goals and progress, find opportunities to connect with faculty, navigate university requirements and more. It’s a role that encompasses skills he sharpened as a graduate student at Stanford. As a Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Fellow and mentor of undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds through the Summer Undergraduate Research in Geoscience and Engineering (SURGE) program, he learned how to support a diversity of identities within academia and the Earth sciences. Nelson was also pivotal in the creation of the Stanford Chapter of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM@Stanford), a local branch of a global organization that empowers LGBTQ+ people in STEM to succeed personally, academically, and professionally by cultivating environments and communities that nurture innovation, leadership, and advocacy. Following graduation, he became a Thinking Matters Teaching and Research Fellow, instructing freshmen through a program that fosters the transition to college-level learning.
In his role as an Academic Advising Director, Nelson serves as a liaison between VPUE and Stanford Earth. The position gives him the opportunity to help other students embrace identity as part of their journey through academia. “In my teaching, as well as in advising and mentoring, my approach is to think holistically about the student as I guide them through their academic pursuits. It’s not just about helping them choose between potential majors, it’s also hearing their stories and connecting them to the campus partners and opportunities that will enable them to flourish at Stanford.”
Nelson will be teaching an introductory seminar for sophomores in spring quarter 2021 titled "Am I a Part of Earth? Understanding of Rock, Water, and Time," which will encourage students to explore their personal relationship to Earth through the lens of geochemistry and philosophy. “The only requirement is a willingness to examine your personal relationship with Earth from scientific and humanistic perspectives,” according to the course description. The idea grew out of Nelson’s personal quest to understand the natural world and his place in it through scholarship, direct experience, and contemplation – a perspective he hopes to instill in others, whether it fosters an understanding of their “relationship to and/or separation from Earth.”