Dasha King of Louisiana is a student advisor at the Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center in Houston, Texas. Dasha joined the Student Services team just over a month ago.
Thanks for your time, Dasha. Please tell us about your background.
I was a real estate agent for a number of years. I have a diverse background and skill set, which has been an asset to many.
Why did you move into education?
If you think about it, my job has always been about helping people. That’s a skill I bring to the table. I love helping people. I love seeing them succeed and attain the thing they want, whether that’s buying or selling a house, or obtaining an education or skill set. I feel joy when I help people overcome obstacles.
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When this position came up, I figured I’d benefit as much as the students because I’m the kind of person who goes the extra mile. Sometimes people need that extra help. So, to me, being in education is really about helping people meet their goals.
What does a student advisor do for TWS students on a day-to-day basis?
I am their helper. I’m a counselor. I’m the person they go to when they don’t know where to turn. If they have questions, if they don’t know the resources they have available to them, I am the person they go to. Maybe their work schedule is changing, maybe they need to change shifts and don’t know what to do. From attendance issues, to academics, to making sure they know where they stand with their GPA, we’re problem solvers. Our job is to help them stay in school and succeed, to get them to the finish line.
When does a student first meet you or the team?
Usually at orientation, which typically happens on the Thursday or Friday before they start class the next Monday. We also see them on their first day to make sure they have everything they need to start strong. When they come to school, we want them to come ready to learn, with everything taken care of.
Does every student get a specific advisor to work with?
Yes, every student is allocated an advisor by their last name. We want each student to have a dedicated advisor who they can turn to, someone they know is in their corner. That way, we can get to know our students and build a rapport with them. We want them to be able to trust us. We’re the people they need to feel comfortable sharing personal stuff with that they may not want to tell someone else. Like I said, we are all about getting them to the finish line, and sometimes that means helping them with personal things.
What access do students have to you?
Here in Houston, we give out cards to our students with the details of their contacts in Students Services, Career Services and Financial Aid. On the cards, they’ll find our direct numbers, email addresses and office hours. Most students now seem to reach out by email. I receive a lot of emails.
Do they need to make an appointment if they want to meet you face to face?
No, they just come on in.
What are the three most commonly asked questions of you?
The top question is, “How do I go about a shift change?” Maybe they’re a morning student and they need to switch to nights. I can help with that if they have a good reason. Maybe their work schedule changed, or they have a child care situation.
We also get asked about transportation a lot. We can help them get a discounted bas pass because they’re enrolled at Tulsa Welding School. The third question is usually about academics: “Where do I stand with my GPA? Can I get an official copy of my transcript?” Those are things we can most definitely help with.
Do you have contact with graduates?
Some do keep in touch. They may come in and ask for a copy of their transcript or their diploma because an employer is asking for it. I’ve run into some situations where employers want to know about their school attendance, so we can print out their attendance record for them. Student Services is a resource for them whether they graduated last week, last month or five years ago.
How can students help you to help them?
That’s funny you ask that, because I always say, “Help me help you!” and they laugh! I just want them to let me know what they need. Come to see me, ask me, use me. Whatever it is you need, I can help you find an answer. Let me figure it out with you. I’m a problem solver. For many of them, this is their first experience of post-secondary education, so they don’t know what to ask for and what resources are available to them. If they come to me and explain their situation or problem, we can solve it together.
I’ve had situations where people have come to me wanting to give up because of life. Sometimes they just need to hear someone say, “I get it, I understand. You’re not the only person enduring something right now, but keep fighting. Keep going, because this storm won’t last forever.”
I just got a call today from a student who wanted to let me know that they aren’t giving up, that they’re feeling better and I was right—the storm did pass. To get that kind of call from someone who just the other day was about to quit really makes my day.
What advice do you have for students who may be considering attending TWS?
Everyone has things going on in life that they think would stop them succeeding, but come in and give it a try. One of my favorite quotes is from Zig Ziglar, a motivational coach: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”
If it gets hard, don’t give up. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We’re here to help students stay connected. As a college graduate myself, I think Student Services is wonderful. I don’t recall having access to this type of resource in college—somewhere you could come in and ask for something and get help right away. There was always a process or you couldn’t get to see the person you needed. So for us to be here and available to them without an appointment is a really great resource.