Moab Happenings Archive
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University Happenings - July

Local USU Moab Advisors Help Students Navigate Post-Secondary Educationby Loren Miller, Marketing Manager, University Marketing & Communications, USU

At times, college requirements can be confusing or daunting. Which classes do you need to take and when should you take them? What are your options? Utah State University Moab offers academic advising to help its students stay on track and reach their academic goals in the time frame they are looking to achieve them.

“Like all universities, Utah State University has many requirements and resources that can be overwhelming to navigate, especially for students who are the first in their family to attend college,” said Lianna Etchberger, USU Associate Vice President. “It is critical to have someone in person to help students when they are struggling.”

The USU Moab campus has academic advisors that are here to help you with all your questions and concerns. Shanda Thompson is in charge of most undergraduate academic advising on the Moab campus. She is ready to help students with their academic goals and get them on the right track. “I help students plan their route to graduation,” Thompson said. “This involves working with the student and their goals and priorities. For some students, that is getting to graduation as quickly as possible so they can begin working in their field. For other students, they already have a full-time job they enjoy and are working on a degree to advance in their career. Regularly meeting with an advisor can help students stay on track for their graduation goal.”

Shanda Thompson, Academic Advisor at USU Moab. Courtesy of Utah State University.

Thompson has worked at USU Moab for nearly four years. She is known around town as “Book Girl” because she is almost always seen walking around while reading a book. Thompson said she started the habit to get the exercise she needs while not feeling guilty about spending all her time reading, a win-win situation.

“I frequently get asked if I ever run into anything,” Thompson said with a laugh. “The two times I remember both happened while trying to read an e-book at night. The first time I walked into a snowbank. On the other occasion I got a nice bruise on my shin when I walked into a trailer that wasn’t normally parked on that street. I recently had one of my neighbors tell me their kids were starting to imitate me and trying to walk and read. I think motivating others to read is definitely worth the occasional bruised shin or wet shoes.”

Thompson also finds motivation in helping students with their questions. She enjoys being a part of their academic pursuits and is a resource on campus for all students, whether she is their assigned advisor or not. She will always stop and help a student find the help they need. “My favorite part about being an advisor at USU Moab is definitely the people I get to work with,” she said. “The students I advise for are incredible and I love getting to be part of their academic journey.” Students in the technical education programs also have an advisor in Dani Rodriguez, who has spent more than one year in her position as the Technical Education Coordinator. Rodriguez is a resource for students in the health professions, trade careers, and business and information programs. Rodriguez is here to help students find their academic advisor and provide other resources.

“In Moab, every degree-seeking undergraduate knows Shanda and every technical education student knows Dani,” Etchberger added. “Shanda and Dani serve essential roles as student success coordinators on our campus. They are both excellent at connecting students with their academic advisors for planning course work, and assisting students identify essential resources to be successful in attaining a degree or certificate. “Ask any USU Moab student and they’ll tell you that Shanda and Dani are there for them so they can focus on learning. We wouldn’t have as many students making it to graduation without them, and for that I’m grateful.” USU students are encouraged to reach out to their academic advisors. They are always willing to sit down and help students on their path to graduation, and every step in between. To schedule an appointment with Shanda, Dani, or any other advisor on campus, visit

USU Moab is home to over 90 degrees and certificates options, including nursing, health professions, social work, and technical careers. For more information about USU Moab, please visit

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