Alumni Spotlight: Patti Baynes

Name: Patti BaynesPatti Baynes

CAC Partner Program: UNC-Chapel Hill

Years Served with CAC: 2010 – 2012 as an adviser, and 2014-present as a Program Director

Current Occupation: College Advising Corps Program Director

Current Location: North Carolina State University

Describe your current role.

I currently serve as the program director for the North Carolina State College Advising Corps in Raleigh, North Carolina. I have the amazing opportunity of placing college advisers in rural high schools across the state to serve some of our best and brightest high school students.

How did your time with College Advising Corps help shape your current career plans? What skills/knowledge did you acquire as an adviser that you draw upon you in your current role?

As a college adviser from 2010-2012, I would not have believed that I would serve as the program director of the NC State College Advising Corps! I also had no idea that being placed in rural North Carolina to serve two high schools would shape my career trajectory or frame my research interests. The knowledge and skills I acquired while serving in Robeson and Scotland Counties as an adviser focused my research interests on a population often overlooked in college access research.

Using my experience, I was able to conduct and publish research as a graduate student at NC State University. I also leveraged the skills I gained as an adviser working with high school students while working as a residence director overseeing first-year students. These and many other experiences and skills I honed as an adviser and in graduate school helped begin to lay the foundation for my current role as program director.

What is the single most important factor that has helped and continues to help you succeed in your current position?

I keep my students first in my decision-making process and guidance of the NC State College Advising Corps. As I lay the foundation of a new College Advising Corps program, I have to keep various factors in mind, including institutional policies, program policies, district policies, and what’s in the best interest of my advisers. With all of these competing responsibilities, sometimes the needs of the students we serve can easily fall between the cracks. Today, I keep a picture of the 2012 graduating class from one of my high schools as a constant reminder of our purpose and the population we serve.

What advice do you have for alumni who may be interested in pursuing a similar career path as you?

To be present in your process is the best advice I can share. I remember my frustrations and concerns as an adviser. I served in a rural area with complicated cultural dynamics, while all of my friends were in major cities. Yet, looking back, I realize it was all in preparation for my current position. Even in graduate school, the students I interacted with, the professors I met, and the relationships I made were all to prepare me for my next step. Be present in your process.

Is there a significant moment in your College Advising Corps experience that you could share?

The most significant moment for me was the day I received the call that I was selected to direct the new program at NC State. I loved my experience as an adviser, and I received such joy from helping my students and the community. Now, I still have that same joy and tenacity to continue to make a difference.

If you have questions for Patti or would like to learn about her career pathway, please feel free to contact her at plbaynes@ncsu.edu.