Weldon School Welcomes New Academic Advisor

Academic advisor Jana Castellanos (left) is developing several new programs to ensure that the growing number of Weldon students has the resources they need to succeed.
A new academic advisor at the Weldon School is working solely with undergraduates to ensure all biomedical engineering students have the resources they need to succeed. Jana Castellanos joined the Weldon School in July 2013 as an undergraduate advisor. She hails from Bogota, Colombia and graduated from the University of Michigan with a master’s degree in higher education. Castellanos has dual citizenship in both Colombia and the United States.

Castellanos became interested in academic advising through her experience volunteering with AmeriCorps. She worked as a mentor to inner city high school students interested in higher education before pursuing her master’s degree. These experiences led to her academic advising position at Purdue.

There are many rewarding aspects to this job, she said. “It is refreshing… to see that everyone is so active both on and off campus. It is nice to see [students] are already starting to make a difference within the Purdue community.”

Students like Maddy Griffin and Jade Tang have found working with Castellanos has been very positive. Griffin said that Castellanos is easily accessible and always very friendly. “When I was considering changing my major I talked with Jana about it and she gave me some advice.  She didn't really try to persuade me either way but just made me aware of all of my options…I decided to stay in BME.”

“Jana is probably the most helpful academic adviser I had thus far,” Tang said. “For someone who did not come to Purdue with any AP credits while still trying to graduate on time with a degree in BME and pre-med requirements, my academic planning is a huge challenge. Jana has been very patient with me in figuring out what is the best way to fulfill all the requirements.”

“I am impressed with how quickly [Castellanos] familiarized herself with the BME curriculum and started giving me real good advice when she was still fairly new to the BME program,” Tang added.

Castellanos said the Weldon School of Biomedical engineering staff is very student-centered.  “It’s great to work in an environment where everyone has the same goal, we’re always talking about improving [so students] receive the best educational experience.”

While at Purdue, Castellanos plans to implement multiple programs to ensure each student has a variety of resources for success.  A peer-mentor program is one of the programs being developed. Juniors and seniors will be paired with underclassmen based on their interests and experiences. The goal is to allow students to “learn, grow, and [positively] challenge each other,” said Castellanos.

“We are also planning to set up a virtual advising office for students who are abroad, on co-op, or prospective students who cannot travel to the University. Although this project is in the planning stages, we are hoping to make the experience more personal instead of just talking over email or on the phone,” she said.

Castellanos also plans to continue to expand assistance for students who transition back and forth between school and co-op programs.  She is grateful for the ability to utilize all available resources to make sure all students are successful.

“BME is great because I feel like the undergrad programs component is given a lot of flexibility and support. I am looking forward to having the autonomy to come up with these programs and seeing them through,” she said.

Castellanos said her experience of growing up in a bi-cultural family has allowed her to appreciate the challenges some international students face. She hopes her ability to speak Spanish will be helpful connecting to Hispanic students on campus. She is also looking forward to seeing the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering expand over time. “There is an increase in interest from students who want to participate in the BME program…it is an exciting challenge to accommodate.”