CLASS Student Success Advisor Named Outstanding Staff Advisor

May 12, 2022

Written by Stephanie Salazar

Maria crossing her arms in front of the student success center signage
Photo by Tom Zasadzinski

Maria Anzaldo, who currently serves as the retention and graduation specialist in the Student Success Center at the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences (CLASS), was named this year’s coveted Outstanding Staff Advisor at an awards reception on April 26. 

Each year, Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) recognizes one faculty member from each academic college, one staff advisor and one advising program with an Outstanding Advisor Award for their passion, dedication and commitment to student success. 

To learn about Anzaldo’s journey to CPP and what this award means to her, check out her Q&A below: 

Can you share a bit of your background and journey to Cal Poly Pomona? 

I’m a first-generation Latina woman. I grew up in El Monte without many college resources in high school. I navigated college while working full-time and juggling multiple responsibilities like many of our students. I started my education at Mt. San Antonio College. Then I transferred to Cal State L.A. to study sociology as an undergraduate and then a master’s degree in counseling and public administration. I always wanted to play a role in helping others, but I didn’t always have a clear path. Today, I strive to offer my students guidance to understand how their degree will help them reach their goals. 

What made you want to work at Cal Poly Pomona?

Cal Poly Pomona is a beautiful campus, and I feel blessed to work for such a fantastic university that encourages students to “learn by doing.” I believe in this same philosophy and incorporate this concept and practice in my daily work with students.

How long have you been at the CLASS Student Success Center?

I have worked for CLASS for nearly four years, and it has been one of my most rewarding work experiences. The CLASS Student Success Center is a great place to work because—aside from getting the chance to work with its amazing students—it offers flexibility and opportunities for professional development. I appreciate our college’s leadership and my colleagues, who are a great support. 

How do you feel about being chosen as this year’s Outstanding Advisor? 

When I first heard the news, I could not believe it. I’m honored and humbled to be this year’s Outstanding Advisor. I’m thankful to the Office of Student Success, the CLASS leadership, my colleagues, and the students who nominated me. 

What do you enjoy most about advising and mentoring students?

I love learning about my students, their lives, their struggles, and their future goals. I try to show them that I genuinely care about their success. The majority of the students I have the privilege of working with are experiencing high-stress levels, anxiety and various personal and academic obstacles. One of the things I enjoy most about advising is providing a safe space for students to vent, where they can be honest about the issues they are experiencing and not feel ashamed about their grades or hardships. My advising philosophy is based on a foundation of care and respect, and from there, I try to build a strong relationship with each student. I provide advice and offer students the steps they can take to move forward and succeed. 

What advice do you have for the Class of 2022?

When you apply for a job you want and don’t get it, don’t get discouraged. Just keep trying—even if it seems impossible. Before working in higher education, I worked in the non-profit sector, so it took a few years to find my place. I’m so glad I didn’t give up despite the numerous rejection letters I received. Also, continue learning for your entire life. Whether taking a course, completing a certificate or attending workshops through your workplace, there are many resources to help improve yourself. I’m always taking classes to learn new skills because I love being challenged personally and professionally. I see learning as a lifelong journey.

To learn more about this year’s Outstanding Advisor awardees, visit