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Meet Our Staff

Jeff Handy Jeff Handy
Director
jeffrey.handy@austin.utexas.edu

Jeff started at UT in 2015 as an academic advisor in the School of Undergraduate Studies and now serves as the Director of the Vick Advising Excellence Center. Prior to starting at UT, Jeff was an AmeriCorps member at College Forward, where he helped first-generation students earn a college degree. Jeff strives to support students in making informed decisions about their academic and professional goals. He believes advising should aim to help every student feel empowered to navigate through and flourish from their undergraduate experience. As the Director of the Vick Advising Excellence Center, Jeff’s goal is to ensure all advisors have the training, tools, and resources they need to best support their students.

Pronouns: He, Him, His
Hometown: Norwich, NY
Major: Philosophy
Top five strengths: Analytical, Deliberative, Intellection, Consistency, Relator
Hobbies: Reading, gaming, sports


Vanessa Garcia Vanessa Garcia
Assistant Director
vanessa.garcia@austin.utexas.edu

Vanessa started at UT in 2017 as an associate academic advisor in the School of Undergraduate Studies and now serves as the Assistant Director of the Vick Advising Excellence Center. Prior to starting at UT, Vanessa was an academic coach at Texas State University, where she worked to support students through their first year in college. Vanessa believes that empathy plays a major part in academic advising and student support services. She enjoys building rapport with her students to better understand their specific challenges and struggles while being as resourceful as possible. Vanessa is mindful of the importance of holistic growth of college students and wants them to feel fully supported throughout their college endeavors. She strives to develop an environment that is open and inclusive to all students on campus. As the Assistant Director of the Vick Advising Excellence Center, Vanessa’s goal is to provide the necessary tools for all advisors on campus to support students to the best of their abilities.

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Hometown: Laredo, TX
Major: Communication Disorders, Student Affairs in Higher Education
Top five strengths: Restorative, Harmony, Connectedness, Learner, Relator
Hobbies: Dancing, swimming, and Netflix binging


Meaghan Anderson Forbis
Core & Flags Student Program Coordinator
meaghan.andersonforbis@austin.utexas.edu

Meaghan got their start in advising as a peer mentor in high school, and has been supporting students ever since! They know that the path to a college degree isn’t always linear— between the first day of kindergarten and college graduation, Meaghan attended nine schools across five states and two countries. Meaghan believes in accessible higher education for all and is especially passionate about supporting non-traditional students and students from underserved communities. Their advising approach is about compassion, patience, and humility, working alongside students to support them in their goals. Meaghan’s favorite thing about advising is seeing a student’s dream become real life!

Pronouns: They, Them
Hometown: Andersonville, Chicago, IL
Major: Women and Gender Studies & Political Science, American Studies
Top five strengths: Strategic, Restorative, Achiever, Activator, Adaptability
Hobbies: Road trips, cooking, weaving


Katie Emerson
Senior Academic Advisor
katherine.emerson@austin.utexas.edu

Katie started at UT in 2022 as a senior academic advisor for the Vick Advising Excellence Center. Prior to starting at UT, Katie was a ninth-grade English teacher at Idea Rundberg College Prep where she prepared students for the English 1 STAAR. Katie cares deeply about the overall well-being of students and making sure they feel seen, understood, and supported. In her role at Vick Advising Excellence Center, Katie not only helps students navigate exploring new majors and internally transferring, but she also works to enhance the effectiveness of academic advising tools and technology for advisors across campus.

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Hometown: Holliston, MA
Major: Media Arts
Top five strengths: Empathy, Communication, Connectedness, Developer, Woo
Hobbies: Jiu-Jitsu, journaling, D&D


Tina Hyatt
Senior Academic Advisor
tina.hyatt@austin.utexas.edu

Tina started as a senior advisor in the Vick Advising Excellence Center at UT in 2022. Tina was an academic advisor at Texas State University for 20 years in the College of Fine Arts and Communication. She is excited to be involved in developing training and professional development opportunities for advisors across campus. She believes that it is the advisor’s role to help students gain access to all the information they need to feel empowered and make informed decisions about their futures. She wants students to know that the journey is just as important as the destination. Her favorite part of advising is seeing a student realize that they have the power to create their own individual path.

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Hometown: New Braunfels, TX
Major: Theatre, Literature
Top five strengths: Learner, Intellection, Input, Restorative, Futuristic
Hobbies: Reading, road running, baking