April 22, 2013 | By Colt Knedler
When a student goes to a mentor or an adviser, there needs to be a strong connection. The student should feel that the adviser not only has counseling experience, but life experiences much like their own. Jacques Bowyer embodies both.
Bowyer, the new McNair Scholars Program outreach coordinator and adviser at UC Davis, first became interested in counseling as an undergraduate student after transferring to the University of Arizona from a community college. “I took some counseling courses over one summer, and realized I had an interest for it,” says Bowyer.
That interest has grown over recent years. “Now counseling and advising is not only my profession, but my passion,” shares Bowyer. That passion led him to Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, where he served as an academic counselor for over 10 years. Bowyer is inspired by the potential many underrepresented students have for succeeding in an academic environment, and works to give them the opportunities to develop these skills. His new position as the program outreach coordinator and adviser enables him to do this.
The McNair Scholars program at UC Davis represents the excellence of Dr. Ronald E. McNair’s passion for academics. “Students that share that same passion for excellence are the ones we look for in the McNair Scholars program,” says Bowyer, who is excited to work with students who share that burning desire.
Many McNair Scholars are transfer students from community colleges, and the transition to UC Davis can be challenging both structurally and academically. “That’s when they come to me,” Bowyer says. “It’s a long road, from community college to UC Davis, and later to graduate school. It can be especially tough for students who already begin at a disadvantaged level.” Bowyer helps in encouraging these students during their journey. Being a transfer student himself is helpful in relating to McNair students on a personal level, and establishing a successful counseling relationship. “I share my personal experiences to make sure they see the right opportunities at the right time,” Bowyer added.
To do this, Bowyer is involved in a variety of outreach efforts. He has a responsibility to promote the McNair program to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students, while connecting with past McNair Scholars and faculty mentors for support. He also connects with student organizations and clubs, as well as local community colleges. This outreach enables younger students to see the opportunities available to them at an early stage in their academic careers.
One of the opportunities the McNair Scholars have in the near future is presenting their research at the annual Undergraduate Research Conference on April 26-27 at UC Davis, giving them exposure to professors working in research centers across campus. They are also preparing to present at the California McNair Scholars Symposium at UC Berkeley in early August.
Being around these students on a daily basis is refreshing for Bowyer, who learns something new every day, “I learn as much from my students as they do from me.” This illustrates his success as a counselor, and his future impact on the UC Davis community.