Alumni Interview with Heath Furrow

Heath Furrow graduated with a BA from Virginia Tech in Fall 2008, an MA in Education in Spring 2010 and an MA in History in Spring 2019. He is currently a professional advisor with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech.

Q: After graduating from Virginia Tech’s M.A. program, what have you done professionally?

Shortly after completing my M.A. in History I was hired on as the History Department’s Academic Advisor and Administrative Assistant. My duties included both assisting students in navigating the curriculum of the History Major and life at Virginia Tech, as well as administrative duties related to undergraduate and graduate academics. In January of 2022 I transitioned to an academic advising role with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences as a part of the College’s move towards a centralized advising system.

Q: What is one thing that you did at Virginia Tech that aided you in your professional or academic path?

Working with undergraduate students in my role as a GA was invaluable experience that I have used in my role as an academic advisor.

Q: What advice would you give current or future students wanting to pursue a path similar to yours?

Understand that where you think you are going may not be whether you wind up. When I started the M.A. program at Virginia Tech, I thought I wanted to teach at a community college, but after graduating I found out that there were fewer opportunities in that area than I had anticipated; advising was something I had thought about as a career option, but it wasn’t my primary goal. I was fortunate that the Department of History was looking to hire an advisor right when I graduated, so I took advantage of that opportunity and found a rewarding career. Don’t expect that you will wind up doing exactly what you planned to do and don’t expect that you will be doing the same thing for the rest of your life, but know that even if things don’t work out the way you expected, you can still have a rewarding career and life.

Q: What has been a major challenge you have encountered in your career? How have you dealt with it?

One persistent challenge I have faced is managing self expectations. One of the things I like about my role as an advisor is that I have the opportunity to have a positive impact on students’ lives; the flip side of this is feeling that I have let my students down if I don’t have the right answer or don’t approach them in the right away. I have had to learn to balance recognizing when I could have done a better job with having patience with myself.

Q: What are your plans from here?

I hope to continue to serve as an academic advisor at Virginia Tech for years to come.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Remember that your graduate education isn’t just about checking off boxes to get a degree. This is an opportunity to grow yourself academically, professionally, and personally. If you approach your graduate education with this attitude, you will have a much more rewarding experience.

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