By Marcia C. Dibble
“If it was not for her, I would have not gone to school at all.”
These are the words written by a University of Utah student in nominating mentor Maria Creasey-Baldwin for recognition as an outstanding student adviser. Creasey-Baldwin is an academic advising coordinator with the U’s TRIO Student Support Services, providing support to college students who are low income, have disabilities, and/or are first generation.
Recognizing that academic success can go well beyond credit hours and majors, Creasey-Baldwin is known for supporting the whole student in whatever way needed in order to succeed, from financial advice, to navigating the many complex policies and procedures of the university, to helping them overcome personal struggles so they can get back to focusing on school. As a result, she is beloved and respected by students and administrators alike for being highly effective, as well as deeply committed and truly caring.
In recognition of the crucial role exceptional advisers such as Creasey-Baldwin play in college success, the Alumni Association each year presents a staff or faculty member with the Perlman Award for Excellence in Student Counseling. As this year’s honoree, Creasey-Baldwin will be celebrated on Wednesday, April 12, at the Alumni Association’s Spring Awards Banquet.
As another of the students nominating her for the Perlman Award noted, “Maria is not just an adviser; she is a complete support system for students like myself.”
Creasey-Baldwin joined the U’s TRIO programs in 1998. TRIO is a group of federal programs (named for its original three) providing academic support to students underrepresented in postsecondary education. Creasey-Baldwin started at TRIO as an academic adviser for Upward Bound high school students and later moved to its Student Support Services (SSS) department to work with college students.
For both programs, she has coordinated the six-week summer residential components in which students become familiar with the process and experience of going to college. Coordinating the summer programs is very time- and energy-intensive, but Creasey-Baldwin believes it is an invaluable experience for the students, who develop more skills and strong peer support. Creasey-Baldwin has also acted as interim director for the SSS department, and at other times has managed the website and other methods of communication with the TRIO community.
Creasey-Baldwin says the best part of her job is witnessing student self-discovery and seeing them reach their goals. “Being a part of their journey is profoundly rewarding,” she said.
To quote another Perlman Award nominator, a U associate vice president: “First-generation college students often find college cold and impersonal as well as confusing. Maria is anything but those things!”
Creasey-Baldwin will be honored at the 2017 Spring Awards Banquet along with the Alumni Association’s 2017-18 scholarship recipients and this year’s inductees into the Beehive Honor Society, the oldest local honor society at the U. The Spring Awards celebration is being held in the Spence and Cleone Eccles Reception Room on the fourth floor of Rice-Eccles Stadium and Tower.
To learn more about Spring Awards and all of this year’s honorees, visit alumni.utah.edu/springawards.