Counselor, Waterbury Campus
Jamie Caruso, the academic counselor for the BGS degree program at the UConn-Waterbury campus, began her career as an academic advisor at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. She began working there in 1998, immediately after earning a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.
As soon as Caruso started advising students at Arizona State University, she knew she had discovered her passion. “I loved being able to guide students along and help them make the most of their academic careers,” she said. “Arizona State was a big school, and I liked being able to help students navigate through the system and make that big university feel like a small community.”
While working as an advisor, Caruso returned to school and earned a M.Ed. in Elementary Education, with Certification, at Northern Arizona University in 2005. So she fully understands the challenges faced by adult students, who need to balance the demands of their career, family, and education.
“There are so many other factors to consider when you’re an adult student making the decision to go back to school,” she explained. “I did it for my graduate degree. I was married with a little child, and I was working full-time. It was a huge commitment. I give students a lot of credit for going back and getting it done. It’s difficult and a lot of work, but it’s also very rewarding.”
In 2006, Caruso was promoted to Director of Academic Affairs at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, but also maintained her role as an advisor. As Director of Academic Affairs, she was responsible for scheduling classes, acting as a liaison to other University departments, revising/editing the School’s section of the general catalog, and overseeing the internship program and the online override system.
Originally from Stamford, she returned home in 2007 because she wanted her son to attend school in Connecticut “My son was just finishing kindergarten, so it was a good time for us to make the move,” she said.
In February 2009, she joined the UConn School of Business MBA Office as a staff assistant, providing support to the students, faculty, and staff. But she longed to return to a position as an advisor. She began working as a BGS counselor at the Stamford campus the following year and transferred to the UConn-Waterbury campus in September 2011.
“I wanted to go back to the advising role, which is what I really love,” she said. “I was very familiar with the BGS program, which is a great program, and I wanted to be back in an advising capacity, where you’re working one-on-one, helping students figure out what they want to do, really helping someone out – that’s what I like the most.”
Caruso loves all aspects of advising BGS students but when asked about the most rewarding aspect of her job is, she doesn’t hesitate.
“Always, always, graduation,” she said with a smile. “That’s the best part. It’s such a huge jump from working at a job for 25 years and then going back to school. Or being a stay-at-home mom for 15 years and then deciding it’s your turn to go back and finish your degree. It’s such a huge accomplishment. To be able to help them get there is very, very rewarding.”