Rachel Glass Fairchild, Academic Advisor II, Undergraduate Academic Advisement
What is your background?
Currently I am an academic advisor. I have advised freshmen in almost every major at UCO and I now work primarily with students in College for Fine Arts and Design, biology and chemistry majors. I have dedicated my career to removing systemic barriers and making high quality education accessible to all students. After graduating Pomona College with an anthropology degree, I taught fourth grade in California through Teach for America. Then I moved to New York to work with an arts-in-education organization. I switched gears to program evaluation and landed at UCLA in a K-12 education reform initiative focused on leadership development.
After a few years, I welcomed my son and then my daughter to my family and my parents convinced me to move to Oklahoma to be closer to them. A part-time position as a sales associate at LOFT led to a career as a store manager for seven years. I loved working with the college student associates and soon realized I needed to get back into education. I decided to fulfill my promise to my grandfather and pursue my master’s degree. UCO’s M.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education – Student Personnel was a perfect fit for me. I started as a part-time student, took a position as a graduate assistant and moved on to advising shortly before I graduated. I also returned to my teaching roots as a Success Central instructor.
Tell me how you first got involved at UCO.
Once I decided to leave retail and go back to school, I discovered the perfect degree at UCO. The focus on student development aligned with my interests and UCO was just down the street from where I lived and worked. I applied that day and started classes the following week. The learning curve was steep after being away so long, but I loved the subject and really enjoyed being on a college campus again.
During my second semester at UCO, a classmate alerted me to a part-time job opening she thought I would love. Walking into the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, seeing the well-worn couch and the vibrant atmosphere, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of it. I took a leap of faith and quit my full-time job to become the graduate assistant in the Women’s Outreach Center. Advising student groups, programming events and creating a peer mentor program sparked my creativity and my passion for helping college students. Toward the end of my master’s program, I pursued an opportunity in academic advising and have been there ever since.
What would you say your strongest beliefs are about your contribution to the university?
As a freshman advisor, I help students navigate a brand-new environment with challenges they may never have anticipated. I am one of the first people they meet, and I am often the one they contact when they are struggling. I know what it is like to start over and feel out of place. I know what it is like to take a non-linear path to find your passion. I bring that experience and understanding to every conversation I have with students. I try to listen to the emotion behind their questions and make sure they feel comfortable asking whatever they need to. UCO offers so many opportunities to students, but it can be confusing if you don’t know where to look or what to ask. I strive to connect my advisees to internal and external resources to help them succeed academically and personally.
What do you do when you are not working?
Pre-pandemic, I loved to attend concerts, dance, meet up with friends for dinner and travel to see my family. I am a true extrovert and often strike up conversations with strangers in the grocery aisle (or now with curbside pickup employees). In the last year, my focus has turned to repairing my aging house, binging Netflix and Hulu with my teens, and chasing after my two dogs. Soon I hope to get back on the road and explore more of Oklahoma and Route 66. I’d also like to relocate my dancing from the kitchen to a real dance floor again!