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New Face: Sheetal Survase

This academic advisor says a key to success is to realize that success is something you can't achieve by yourself.

People  |  Apr 24, 2017  |  By Diane Russell
Sheetal Survase

Academic advisor Sheetal Survase. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Creative Services)

Sheetal Survase switched careers to become an academic advisor. Now with UNLV's Academic Success Center, she says she find fulfillment in helping students discover the paths to their futures.


One of the reasons I wanted to join UNLV was because of its staunch commitment to improving the cultural and economic wellbeing of Las Vegas. In its role as a forward-thinking higher education institution, an employer, a strong community development partner, an event venue, etc., UNLV has connected and benefited a large local community made up of people from all walks of life.

What about UNLV strikes you as different from other places you have worked? 

It’s larger than most organizations at which I’ve worked. I am enjoying learning about the university’s different departments and units, their different roles, and how they all work together to deliver on a common mission. Also, it’s exciting to be working for UNLV as it moves toward Top Tier status.

Where did you grow up and what was that like?

I spent most of my childhood in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was fantastic – the food, people, and culture have me hoping I get to move back there in retirement! School and extra-curriculars were strict business, so I might not have admitted to loving it as much then.

What is your current job title?

I am an academic advisor at the Academic Success Center. I work with students who are exploring majors and help them with navigating through their general education curriculum, connect them to other campus resources, and support them as they develop plans that will take them from where they are now to where they want to be.

What inspired you to get into your field?

It resulted from an intentional career change decision-making process. I was looking for a role in which I could use previous experience and skill, continue to serve others in a meaningful way, and also support my personal and professional development. My previous experiences of working with youth within community-based programs and keen interest in higher education inspired me to pursue a career in academic advising.

Tell us about a time in your life when you have been daring.

Some might consider following through with my decision to change careers as daring. Stepping out of a career, especially one that I had been working in for a long time was not easy. After deliberate soul-searching, research, connecting with people, and finally overcoming my fear of the unknown, I became resolute in my decision for a change and found an exciting new career in advising.

Finish this sentence, "If I couldn't work in my current field, I would like to ..."

I would likely have continued working for community-based youth development programs. At the same time, I might have also found myself working on alternative paths to a career in advising!

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I am afraid of swimming in the sea and have done so maybe twice in life. This is surprising to most people because I grew up on an island and spent a lot of time at the beach, and also because I was also on my high school swim team!

Tell us about someone you admire and why?

For so many reasons, I greatly admire my parents. My father lives life with the passion and energy of a 25-year-old. In doing so, he inspires me to always be brave, take risks, and follow my passions. My mother is someone who has experienced adversity throughout the course of her life, yet she rarely let any challenge affect her spirit, and never once turned to cynicism for comfort. Through her example, I continue to learn important lessons in resilience, humility, and generosity.

Any tips for success?

Recognize that true success cannot be achieved alone. Engage with and learn from people around you. Seek to form positive, supportive, and authentic relationships that will help inspire and fuel you as you chase after your dreams.

Pastimes or hobbies?

Spending time outdoors with my human and fur family when the weather allows it.

Tell us about an object in your office that has significance for you and why.

My magnetic whiteboard, which has on display the things most important to me in life — my family, my friendships, and my dogs! They are reminders of the fantastic journey I've been on, what brought me here — and they also serve as my inspiration for the future. I hope to keep the board constantly evolving and add to it more stories of personal growth and adventure.