That’s when he turned to ALEX. Now in its second year, the Advise, Learn, EXperience program pairs incoming students with an advisor available to counsel them through graduation. While faculty advisors guide students’ academic journey and career counselors help them prepare for and identify post-graduate options, ALEX advisors introduce students to resources ranging from off-campus study options, to volunteer opportunities, to how to find balance in your life.
“As an ALEX advisor, I work with students to answer the question, ‘What experiences do you want to have as a student?’” said Kevin Alexander ’13. “I want to brainstorm; maybe they have an interest and don’t know how to pursue it just yet, or maybe there’s something out there they have yet to discover. We think beyond academic interests or career goals. ‘What is it you like, and what do you want to do outside of class?’”
The five ALEX advisors work individually with students to connect the dozens of programs and services available on campus in a purposeful way to help students maximize their Hamilton education — all with the goal of helping students succeed both at college and when they graduate. Since launching with the Class of 2025, the ALEX program has interacted with some 60% of first-year and sophomore students, many of whom return for additional counseling sessions.
Bit-Babik approached ALEX to “navigate how college works,” but it was Alexander who kept him coming back. “Kevin is always willing to share his opinion, and we have productive dialogues,” Bit-Babik said. “Sometimes he just listens to me vent, but he’s always ready to recommend [resources] that help me directly or put me in touch with the person who can.”
Last spring, Bit-Babik stepped up to co-chair the Young Democratic Socialists of America, a student club that was planning a campuswide event to express solidarity with the people of Ukraine. In soliciting ideas, he contacted Alexander, who helped him develop a plan for organizing a gathering in the Chapel that raised both funds and awareness.
After learning about Bit-Babik’s interest in public policy, Alexander suggested he visit the Levitt Center. Bit-Babik spent the summer coordinating the Community Impact Fellows, students who volunteer as collaborative partners with local organizations. A native of Utica, Alexander again proved helpful when Bit-Babik asked him to meet with students to share his viewpoint on ways they can best contribute.
“Kevin gave me a lot of good tips, and he gave me the confidence to reach out and take advantage of the Hamilton network,” Bit-Babik said.
Additional ALEX staff will join the team as the program expands to include all four class years. Advisors already are assessing and meeting with current juniors and seniors to tailor programming when the inaugural ALEX class becomes juniors next fall. “Gathering student input, hearing from them about what they want and need, are integral as we create the scaffold for our programming,” Alexander said.
One tool that helps students navigate the plethora of programs and services is Compass, an online portal where students can see and connect with advisors and services, and “raise your hand” to receive assistance. Faculty and staff can provide students with direct feedback in the form of kudos, flags, and messages, and to refer students to support services as needed.
Although it will be another two years before all Hamilton students are officially part of the ALEX program, Alexander, who graduated from Hamilton almost 10 years ago, has already seen some positive results.
“[As a student,] I was in Opportunity Programs, did a Levitt research internship, and worked with Amy James through COOP, but they weren’t connected,” Alexander said. “Having all of these resources a part of one network makes accessing them much more seamless. ALEX advisors are just one piece of it. Every student knows they have a dedicated person to their experience. They may not need that person, but you know you have somebody in case you want to reach out.”
Ensuring all students have equal access to all that Hamilton offers is our most enduring value.