James Eckerty is a fixture at O’Neill IUPUI. He’s one of the school’s biggest cheerleaders and a dedicated and passionate advocate for its students.
“I wanted to bridge a gap for students that I felt when I was a first-generation student at IUPUI,” he recalls. “I had to find out a lot of information about college on my own and I wanted to be an advocate and advisor to help other students.”
IUPUI has been part of Eckerty’s life since 2004. He enrolled as an undergraduate, earning his bachelor’s degree in psychology then his master’s in higher education. While working on his master’s, he also worked in advising for IUPUI’s University College.
In 2012, he found his campus home at O’Neill. Eckerty is now the Associate Director of Student Services for O’Neill IUPUI. In his role, he works with students on advising, helps coordinate the school’s orientation and Summer Bridge programs, trains other advisors, collaborates with faculty on curriculum development, and serves as an adjunct faculty member himself.
For Eckerty, the many roles he serves all focus on O’Neill students—and not just their classes, but their time at IUPUI.
“I love helping students connect to campus, find their passion, and collaborate with faculty and others on experiential learning opportunities that will make them stand out,” he says. “I truly enjoy seeing students become their own individual—better understanding themselves, their beliefs, what is important to them, and more.”
Eckerty takes a holistic approach when he works with students. He knows students need more from their advisors than a course schedule and graduation plan. He is there to support them as they navigate their way through college and try to find a successful work-life-school balance.
“I see myself in a lot of them,” he admits, saying they may often feel lost or unsure of themselves when they arrive on campus, just as he did as a first-gen freshman.
Now, he’s able to leverage his vast institutional knowledge and cross-campus connections through various committees to affect change and help students connect the dots, build confidence, and set and achieve goals they never thought possible.
“What keeps me motivated every day is knowing that I have impacted so many students and because of my hard work and collaboration with them, I have helped them find their passion and achieve their goals,” he says. “That is truly a cool experience!”
Seeing those changes is a big part of why he does what he does—and he’s not alone. He points to his fellow advisors and their dedication to the students at O’Neill as well, admitting many of them work far beyond a standard 40-hour workweek.
“Our team is small but mighty,” he says proudly. “We work our butts off to ensure our students receive the best knowledge about career- and advising-related resources possible. We might work tirelessly, but it is because each one of us truly wants to see each one of our O’Neill students achieve their things in their lives they never even thought possible. This has been the best Student Services team I have ever worked with and I truly am grateful for each and every one of them!”