When Kristin Reynolds transferred to Illinois State last fall, the first person she really connected with on campus wasn’t another student, or even a professor. It was her academic advisor, Ryan Gray ’97, M.S.E. ’00.

Reynolds, a junior English education major, had a million questions about her new school—and not just about her class schedule. Gray was there to answer each one.

His impact on Reynolds didn’t go unnoticed. Reynolds nominated Gray for an Impact Award, an annual program run by University College that recognizes individuals who impact new students. Now in its second year, the Impact Awards received 135 nominations for faculty members and instructors, academic advisors, staff members and even other students.

Gray’s work has kept Reynolds on track for graduation and moved her toward her goal of teaching, preferably in a smaller rural high school.

“I wanted to be an English teacher because I feel that would be my greatest impact on people,” Reynolds said. “If I can impact this next generation in a positive way, just how Ryan did for me, I think they’ll be more comfortable with me as a teacher, just how I was comfortable with Ryan as an advisor.”

Check out the full list of 2014 Impact Award recipients.

Ryan Denham can be reached at rmdenha@IllinoisState.edu.