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Zuniga receives prestigious honor for student advising
Mark-Anthony Zuniga, Academic Advisor for the Department of Theatre and Dance, is one of five UT Austin recipients of the prestigious 2014 James W. Vick Award for Academic Advising. He was honored at a luncheon at The Etter-Harbin Alumni Center on March 18. Created in 1992, the Texas Exes' James W. Vick Award for Academic Advising is presented each spring to academic advisors who have had an effective, positive influence on the educational experience of undergraduate students. Students nominate academic advisors from across campus for this important award and a student selection committee determines the recipients.
Zuniga believes an academic advisor provides tools to help students become active, self-sufficient learners. He says, “My goal is not to simply provide answers to their questions, but to encourage them to utilize the resources available to them.” When asked about his most meaningful advising event, Zuniga cites university commencement. “I get to see our students cross the stage. I watch our students go from Freshman Orientation to graduation and it is an amazing feeling to share their reaching this major milestone.” His unique advising style responds to the fact that Theatre and Dance students typically spend their time in evening rehearsal and production commitments, so his office door is open after 5:00 p.m. to give his advisees a chance to see him around their schedule constraints. “I am also able to see the projects they are working on, which helps me get to know them,” explains Zuniga.
Zuniga earned his B.F.A. in Directing from Texas State University and his M.A. in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Inspired by a performance by Dance Repertory Theatre, the department’s student dance ensemble, he decided to take a ballet class himself. He says, “It was helpful for me to get a glimpse of what the world of a dancer entails and to help connect with the dance students in the department.” Zuniga later wrote Behind Those Hazel Eyes, a play about a man who starts to study ballet as an adult. A staged reading of this play, originally titled Danseur Drama, was part of The Cohen New Works Festival presented by the University Co-op in 2013.
Zuniga shares, “ I love working in Theatre and Dance because I get to help guide students toward graduation while simultaneously getting a chance to see them develop as artists. The Vick Award means so much to me because it lets me know my advisees see the countless hours I put into supporting them both academically and artistically.”