Staff Enjoy Roles as Student Organization Advisors

Tony Ascenso (far right) with members of the National Broadcast Society

Emerson has a robust student club and organization program. Clubs and organizations help enrich the student experience by complementing classroom learning, providing opportunities for personal and professional networking and connections, and adding to the vibrant life of Emerson’s community. Each group has a staff or faculty advisor to serve as a guide and support to the students’ initiatives. Advisors are expected to assist student organizations in the interpretation and implementation of College and organization policies and procedures and to be the liaison between the College and the student organization.

We interviewed a few of them, and here is what they have to say about their experiences.

Q: What is your name, position, which organization do you advise, and how long have you been an advisor at Emerson?

Robert Amelio (RA): Director of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence (Diversity and Inclusion). Advisor to Zeta Phi Eta for two years. (Editor’s note: winner of Advisor of the Year in 2016–2017)

Tony Ascenso (TA): Manager of Production Facilities (TRF). Advisor to the National Broadcast Society for 10 years. (Editor’s note: winner of Advisor of the Year in 2013–2014)

Matthew Finn (MF): Assistant Director of Faculty Administration (Academic Affairs). Advisor to Phi Alpha Tau for three years.

tamia jordan (tj): Director of Intercultural Student Affairs (Student Life). Advisor to EBONI, ASIA, Amigos, EAGLE, and POWER for eight months.

Nerissa Williams-Scott (NWS): Assistant Manager of the Paramount Film Sound Stage (TRF). Advisor to Flawless Brown for one year.

Q: Talk about your general responsibility as an org advisor.

RA: Provide advice to the officers; be aware of activities, events, and issues of Zeta; ask questions that might move the organization forward; challenge the officers and members to think about big issues (in my case, diversity and inclusion).

TA: I meet with the leadership board on a regular basis. We review their event and production plans for upcoming projects. I provide institutional background and legacy to some of the projects that NBS produces. I try to help the current board avoid any issues that may have occurred in previous years. Most importantly, I listen and encourage them in any way I can.

MF: I meet with the brothers on a regular basis to discuss their goals for the academic year and help guide them in accomplishing them by offering my professional advice and experience. I try to attend as many events as I can to help build a strong relationship with them and let them know my office door is open for them at any time!

tj: I help the executive boards set goals and identify challenges and opportunities. I also consider and mitigate risk.

NWS: To help guide the leadership of the organization with grace and ease. Allowing them to make their own decisions while steering them in different directions or even perhaps offering a multitude of choices makes for a good advisor.  

Q: What do you enjoy the most about being an org advisor?

RA: The fun of working with the students, seeing them struggle with problems and find answers, seeing them develop their skills and beliefs.

TA: I’m always inspired by the commitment the students make to NBS and to Emerson. I love seeing a project come together after months of tough work and being able to help with that. I truly value the connections I’ve made with all these students.

MF: Being an advisor gives me a chance to work with Emerson students, something I would never really get to do otherwise. Oftentimes, you can get caught up with the day-to-day and working with these students really helps me to connect all the pieces.

tj: Reflecting with students at the conclusion of a program/event or a particularly difficult experience. Those challenging conversations of what went well and why and what did not go so well and why and what could have been done or said differently and why are powerful educational moments.

NWS: I love watching them grow into their own thoughts and actions toward being better humans for the overall society as a whole—not just where they are from, but where they are right now.

Q: If you could describe the role of an org advisor in three words, how would you?

RA: Fun, challenged, satisfying.

TA: Listener, encourager, contributor.

MF: Rewarding, engaging, informative.

tj: Guide, listener, illuminator.

NWS: Deemed student motivator.

Q: What advice would you give to a new org advisor?

RA: Spend some time at the beginning going to some of their meetings and getting to know some of the members. It will help develop your understanding of what the organization does and who the members are.

TA: Get to know the students by meeting with them regularly and let the students know you’re there for them. Many times, they just need to run an idea by someone else or vent or pass some time. Sometimes you’ll need that too.

MF: Take the time to sit down with your student group and talk about expectations and really see where you can make a difference. It’s not just about signing papers! 

tj: Even if you do not see your students’ growth and development that sometimes takes place right before your eyes, trust it is happening and value your contribution. But always remember that the organization belongs to the students. It’s their time to learn, grow, and shine.

NWS: Be patient, be kind, be ready, and be on call.

Student Affairs is always looking for staff who are interested in advising student clubs and organizations. Training, support, and resources are provided. If you are interested in becoming a student organization advisor, please send an email to

Sharon Duffy (Campus Life)