Jo Thomas and Andy Oppy

student success is a primary goal for agec's award winning advisors

Andy Oppy and Jo Thomas, Department of Agricultural Economics Advisors, were selected by the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), the Global Community for Academic Advising to receive prestigious annual awards. Andy received NACADA’s Outstanding Advising Award and Jo received NACADA’s Outstanding New Advisor Award.

“The most rewarding part about my position is the opportunity to see others succeed,” said Andy. “A hard lesson I had to figure out early on is that success means different things to different people. To some, it’s passing a difficult course and to others its landing their dream job. Regardless of the goal that’s been obtained, I truly enjoy having a helping hand in the process.”


 Andy Oppy with family


Oppy challenges his students to be the best versions of themselves and instills confidence within them. According to the award nominators, he provides a safe and inclusive environment, is committed, unselfish, and humble. Oppy takes the time to learn about his students’ passions beyond academics. One student nominator said, “He listens to me, asks questions, and gives advice that allows me to make decisions for myself. He has taught me the importance of weighing my decisions, getting perspectives from people I trust, and taking time to involve myself in areas that will be grounding and impactful.”


 Jo Thomas with family


Jo Thomas said the most rewarding part of being an advisor is helping students succeed during tough times. “As an advisor, my hope is for all of my students to be successful and never see them struggle. However, sometimes the greatest successes seem to arise from the students who have dealt with some of the most difficult paths. The ability to give them a safe space and support, in times when they especially need it the most, and in the end seeing them come out stronger, is so fulfilling.”

Jo Thomas was chosen for this award because she excels at communication and teamwork. She has gone above and beyond to adapt to the changing needs of her students, from academic troubles to homesickness and COVID-19 concerns. Award nominators said they value her as a mentor and a welcoming face on campus. “From the welcoming door she had throughout my freshman year to the friendly emails out of the blue asking how I was doing, she has proven to be someone who not only cares for but invests in me,” one student nominator said. Thomas is involved both in and outside her department, including in diversity recruitment, writing Student Success stories, serving as a faculty fellow, and on Purdue Academic Advising Association (PACADA) committees.

Earlier this year, Andy and Jo received the Purdue Academic Advising Association (PACADA) awards for Outstanding Advisor and Outstanding New Professional. In the 20 years these awards have been given at Purdue, 2021 was the first year it was awarded to advisors in the same college. The PACADA honors led to Oppy and Thomas’s nominations for the NACADA Advising Awards.

“Having been evaluated and chosen by a committee of peers, and to be included in such a prestigious list of colleagues, is such a privilege. After winning from your university, you can only be nominated once for the national award, so being selected for the NACADA award is certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Andy. Jo agrees, “Being chosen for these awards has been a tremendous honor and career accomplishment that I will look back on for years to come.”