people you should know: laura melbin-diniz!

Written by program assistant Cat Guzman 10F

Last week, I visited the Center for Academic Support and Advising’s (CASA) new offices located in the Lemelson Building to sit down with Laura Melbin-Diniz, the first year advising dean. This is Laura’s first year at CASA, but I’ve actually known her for quite some time; our first meeting was more than two years ago in a New York City coffee shop, where she interviewed me as a Hampshire College admissions counselor during my college application process. Laura worked in Hampshire’s Admissions Office from 2007 until this summer, and it amazes me that in the five years spent interviewing hundreds of students, she still remembers our interview. This time around, she answered my questions as the New Students Programs assistant, and it was clear to see how passionate she was about her experience at Hampshire. She broke her current position down to three main elements:

  • Negotiation of academic programs for students—she helps you plan an academic schedule and experience in your first year that works for you
  • Making sure students progress well during their first year at Hampshire—Laura will help ensure that you’re on the right track to successfully managing your Division I, and will intervene if and when you need academic help this year (this includes anyone considering withdrawing, transferring, or taking a leave from Hampshire)
  • Management of the Peer Academic Resource Center (PARC)—currently located in the Johnson Library at the end of the Info Bar, PARC is co-run with Hampshire students and, among other perks, offers a cool resource library that allows students to look at sample divisional contracts and portfolios

Laura and I also talked about a few common issues first-year students bring up to her, and I’ve summarized some of the information she gave me. Having difficulty talking to a professor or advisor? Laura can play a supportive role by helping facilitate communication between you and any faculty members. She knows that every student transitions to college life differently, and it’s natural for some of you to feel overwhelmed in the beginning. Do you feel you’re having trouble managing and adjusting to your academic workload? Feeling homesick and missing the familiarity of your home life? Talk to Laura about it—she’ll listen and give you tips. For many of you, the transition to Hampshire can be a bit of a shock, and she’s a tremendous resource because she works to help in any way she can. Even if you find yourself just needing a place to talk, go meet with her! She loves listening and talking to students, and she is honestly one of the friendliest people I’ve met during my Hampshire experience.

One of the best parts of our meeting was during the end of our conversation when she talked about her own transition from working in the Admissions Office to CASA. Laura has always enjoyed working with young people, but one of the best parts of being the assistant dean of advising is that: “I actually get to know students and see how Hampshire works for them, rather than how I thought it would.” Her passion and excitement was as clear now as it was during my college interview more than two years ago, and I strongly suggest getting to know her.

You’re free to schedule an appointment with Laura by calling CASA at 413-559-5498, and she also welcomes drop-in visits to her office. Have a question, but not sure you need an appointment? Feel free to e-mail Laura at lmelbin-diniz@hampshire.edu. She’ll also be collaborating with us at New Student Programs throughout the year, so stay tuned!

As always, please contact us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu with any questions or comments!

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