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Kirsti Copeland

Associate Dean of Student Affairs, School of Engineering

Sep 2017
Students, both undergraduate and graduate, are at a particular time of life in which they are growing rapidly – both intellectually and personally.

At the same time that they are acquiring knowledge, they are also figuring out who they want to be in this world and how they will use that knowledge. Getting to accompany them on part of that journey is a privilege.

I have worked at Stanford for 12 years. I have taught courses designed to introduce first-year students to college thinking. Then I moved into a full-time advising role with Undergraduate Advising and Research. Most recently, I was Associate Dean for Residential and Pre-Major Advising, working with a team of advisors who helped undergraduate students with everything from choosing courses and majors to getting involved in research to managing their academics when difficulties happen.

There are three things I am looking forward to in my role here: First, I am excited to be at the School of Engineering because of the focus on innovation. Second, among other things, our office focuses on issues of diversity in engineering. Helping to create the conditions which enable all engineering students to thrive at Stanford and to experience the creative solutions derived by diverse teams is incredibly gratifying. Third, I am delighted to be working with a team with such tremendous dedication to Stanford and its students.

Most of the student questions I have received in my career are about seeking permission to make a choice. Sometimes, those choices are bound by policy, but often students are seeking a different kind of permission: one to trust themselves and their instincts about what they need in a particular situation. Like the Oracle from the Matrix, I tell them that they already know what they want to do and they are here to understand why they want to do it.

As students navigate their career here at Stanford, I recommend they reflect on the idea that if they are not enjoying what they are doing, they are not doing it right. They should be engaging with their advisors, figuring out the right place for them. We can help them through the difficulties. There is a lot of assistance in the School of Engineering.

They also need to keep this in mind: The number one thing I hear from alumni is that they wish they had taken more classes for themselves, not just for their degree.

Amanda Law

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