Meet Your Academic Advisors

Your academic advisor is a valuable resource to help you navigate your time as a CGS student. They’ll get to know your goals and aspirations, and you’ll work with them to help develop your own personalized growth plan for your time at BU. As you prepare to meet with your academic advisor for the first time, get to know the team with a quick interview with each advisor.

Alyse Bithavas, Associate Dean, Student Academic Life

Why did you become an academic advisor?

I enjoy helping students achieve their academic and career goals.

What is your favorite thing about the CGS experience?

The close knit community is the best thing about CGS. Staff and faculty are committed to the student experience and truly care about our students.

What is your top piece of advice for incoming students about how to make the most out of their time at CGS and BU?

Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way!

Matthew Bae, Director of Student Services and Academic Advising

Why did you become an academic advisor?

I had a wonderful experience with my academic advisor, John Lyons, when I was a CGS student. He had a calming presence and made me feel at home at BU even though I was 1,000 miles from where I grew up. John saw many qualities in me that I couldn’t see myself and he encouraged me to get more involved in student leadership opportunities at BU, something I never thought I could do at the time. His support and genuine care was a constant throughout my time at BU, and after serving in various student leadership positions and working closely with first-year students, I began to ask myself, “what if academic advising is something I could be good at?” Flash forward almost a decade later, and I am fortunate enough to get to work as an academic advisor in the very same office where I would meet with my own advisor as a CGS student! This work is rewarding, dynamic, and exciting, and I don’t know that I would be here if it were not for my advisor.

What is your favorite thing about the CGS experience?

When we say CGS has a community-feel, we really mean it! Folks get to know each other on a first-name basis here, and it makes for a very friendly and welcoming environment. During the school year, I sometimes find myself having to add extra travel time as I move between meetings because it’s hard to walk through the halls of CGS without stopping to catch up with someone. This goes a long way and can make a big school like BU feel like a tight knit community.

What is your top piece of advice for incoming students about how to make the most out of their time at CGS and BU?

My best advice for incoming students is to use this time to learn how to measure success on your own terms. College is an exciting and new experience where you have full reign to follow your passions and become the best version of yourself. There’s no need to worry about what someone else is doing — focus on finding excellence in the way that makes the most sense for you, and the rest will work itself out.

Ilda Hanxhari, Senior Academic Advisor

Why did you become an academic advisor?

I became an academic advisor because I love young adults and being a mentor for them during their beginning stages of independence and adulthood. I love providing a very open safe space for all of my students to be themselves and express openly their own academic and personal goals and identities, regardless of what they may be. My students know that they will always find an understanding, caring and positive support system in me

What is your favorite thing about the CGS experience?

The CGS experience, both social and academic, is very diverse and modern. I love how caring and accepting we are as a community, yet we come from so many different backgrounds and identities. Our students are taught and advised in a modern global interdisciplinary curriculum that is ever changing with our times in order to meet the needs of all our generations of students. Our advisors and faculty are the most caring colleagues I have had the pleasure of knowing who strive to meet their students where they are and help them accomplish their academic goals.

What is your top piece of advice for incoming students about how to make the most out of their time at CGS and BU?

The best advice that I can give them, both on development research as well as my observations as an advisor of over 12 years, is to explore as many different new areas of studies and student groups as they possibly can the first two years. The CGS curriculum gives them the opportunities to try out different subjects while also fulfilling their graduation requirements and our students should make the most of it. Explore a new foreign language, learn to cook, learn to play a new instrument, talk to group of students from a different background than your own, explore the different thinking behind other political groups and affiliations, take a Women’s Studies class, learn fencing and join at least two to three student groups from the hundreds of options that BU has to offer. Use this time to gain as many new experiences as you can, both academic and social, because you might not be given this opportunity again. No matter what you decide to try, be OK getting out of your comfort zone and learning something. That is where life starts!

Melissa Feuerstein, Academic Advisor

Why did you become an academic advisor?

I’ve always had a passion for the college experience and for working with students to make it as meaningful and authentic as possible. For many years, I channeled this commitment into a career in college-level teaching, and indeed I still teach in the CAS Writing Program at BU. But as my passion for academic experience evolved into a deeper interest in partnering with students to find their voices not only within, but also beyond the classroom, I turned to academic advising for the opportunity to work with students more holistically. And I love it.

What is your favorite thing about the CGS experience?

Its strong sense of community and its commitment to building connections: personal connections between students, faculty, and staff; intellectual connections across the disciplines that its interdisciplinary program brings together; and the connections we encourage students to make between who they are as scholars and who they are as human beings. 

What is your top piece of advice for incoming students about how to make the most out of their time at CGS and BU?

Be open to new experiences and take advantage of the opportunity to explore! It’s easy (and great!) to think you know what path you want to pursue, and it can take some courage to try something different, but doing so is part of the learning, growth, and fun of college. 

Cheryl Boots, Academic Advisor

Why did you become an academic advisor?

After I had taught first year humanities at CGS for many years, I leaped at the chance to be an academic advisor. I love working in a small college community within the large university. And I have so much appreciation for my faculty and staff colleagues. It’s an honor and a privilege for me to stay connected (via Zoom and occasional campus visits) and to do my part to contribute positively to students’ CGS experience. At the liberal arts college in Ohio where I graduated from, my advisor was my favorite professor. He had a goofy sense of humor, an unfailingly positive outlook, and a lot of wisdom—about college and about life. He is definitely part of my inspiration when I meet with my advisees. No question that I am positive and a little goofy; I’m still working on the wisdom thing.

What is your favorite thing about the CGS experience?

OK—I have three favorite things about the CGS experience.

First, the students—establishing coaching relationships with them that lead to their success and learning about them as individuals. My advisees are always teaching me. I hope I can return the favor.

Second, the curriculum—I am committed to the value of an education that expands one’s vision beyond a career focus to impact the quality of a person’s life (2/3 of your life is NOT spent at work). What you learn at CGS can make you a person with wider interests, a more enjoyable friend/ partner, and (looking ahead) a more creatively engaged parent! These CGS courses provide education for your lifetime.

Third,—the CGS gap semester at one end of the first year and summer semester at the other end. Using your gap semester to “recharge” your mental and emotional “batteries” initiates your education that you design for yourself. Whether you take on an internship, work a job, take a class, travel near or far, even write a novel (one of my students did), the gap semester gives you a sense of perspective. Then, after your first semester on campus, London and New England are fantastic. Traveling with faculty and friends locally or abroad allows you to learn in real time what you have studied in books which offers you a deeper understanding of your history and your world. Can’t think of a better way to spend six weeks.

What is your top piece of advice for incoming students about how to make the most out of their time at CGS and BU?

*Consider options and make choices based on your understanding of yourself. Now is the time for you to take the initiative in your living and learning. This approach may mean going a different direction from your high school friends or altering an earlier way you have thought about yourself. Being authentic to your understanding of who you are can change over time. We call that growth.

*Experimentation is a good thing because you can learn something no matter how the experiment turns out. You are going to make mistakes. Some mistakes will be bigger than others. Spend less time worrying about them and more time figuring out what you have learned from them. All of this means that you have to take responsibility instead of pointing fingers. Assuming responsibility isn’t easy and can be downright uncomfortable, but it puts you in the driver’s seat and that is important.

*Your faculty and your advisors are your field guides as you move through CGS and Boston University—they know the lay of the land. So, connect with them early and often. At CGS you will find their top commitment is helping you learn and grow.

Heather McCarthy, Academic Advisor

Why did you become an academic advisor?

I’ve worked in many different roles and environments in education over the years, and by far my favorite is that of a college academic advisor. By the time students arrive at college they have a lot figured out and so many opportunities in front of them. College is an exciting time to explore your passions and unearth new interests. It can also bring uncertainty and anxiety. It is a time where students forge their own path and make their own decisions, which can feel equally empowering and overwhelming. As an advisor it is rewarding to support students as they discover new interests and navigate obstacles. We lend advice, encourage, help problem solve and give students the resources to help them grow and attain their goals. It truly is a privilege to share this experience with our students.

What is your favorite thing about the CGS experience?

The team approach is what I appreciate most about CGS. The close-knit community of CGS works together to provide students with the best experience possible. While students adjust to college and make their own decisions, they know that there is a team of faculty and staff who have their backs and are committed to providing them with all the resources to achieve their academic and career goals.

What is your top piece of advice for incoming students about how to make the most out of their time at CGS and BU?

Get to know your classmates. Your class is full of talented and interesting people.

Jordan Rosenburg, Academic Advisor

Kyle Capogna, Academic Advisor