Meet Daralyn Auld – Academic Advisor, International Students

COVID presented many challenges within academia, not the least of which was working with international students to ensure they received a quality education.

Daralyn Auld joined the Faculty of Arts and Science in May 2020 as the Academic Advisor for international students. She provides academic advising for undergraduate students on all Faculty programs, regulations, and policies, and participates as a member of the advising team of the Student Services division of the Faculty of Arts and Science.

She also works closely to provide academic advising support to all undergraduate international students within Arts and Science, as well as students returning from the Bader College, students who have completed studies at the Queen’s School of English, and exchange students.

Prior to coming to Queen’s University, Auld worked at Trent University, first in domestic recruitment then within the Faculty of Education overseeing admissions and recruitment. She next accepted a position to manage international recruitment and admissions also at Trent University. Her recruitment work saw her travel to about 50 different countries.

Her range of experience has proved invaluable as FAS international students worked to navigate the challenges of the pandemic.

“Some of the challenges are trying to support students who are facing COVID restrictions in Canada, but also in their home countries and grappling with lockdowns that are happening at different times, trying to either make the decision to return to Canada, or studying remotely because they were unable to leave home or didn’t feel safe to do so last year,” Auld says. “Many of our students are still grappling with these challenges for the upcoming year as well.”

Auld adds there are many factors that are still making it difficult for international students to return to campus for this fall and COVID hasn’t gone away for many students in many parts of the world.

“I feel that what we have learned from this is we need to be more responsive across a wide range of options and to be able to respond to questions by email as well as to offer phone appointments and online appointments,” Auld says. “We have become more accessible. We can now connect with students on a level we might have been missing before.”

With the fall term only a few months away, Auld talked about challenges international students face as they work towards earning their degree.

“There are some similar issues to ones domestic students face,” she explains, “including trying to maintain a strong academic average, coming up with alternate plans if their primary plan isn’t working, and really navigating the academic system to ensure they are meeting their degree requirements. All of those pieces are common to all students.”

Auld adds there are also unique challenges international students face including navigating relationship with the student’s family and choosing academic programs that will help further their career in their home or in Canada. In several cultures, families play an important role as student embark on their academic journey.

“The complicated cases are the ones where students are trying to navigate the cultural differences, working to help their families come to terms if they weren’t able to meet their academic goals, or they don’t meet the requirements to get into the programs their families really want,” she says. “Or that they have to chart a different academic path and perhaps extend their studies because of challenges they are facing.

“We work closely with families to help them understand what supports are out there for their children. We are really trying to bridge the gap and helping students with the tough conversations.”

Looking to the future, Auld says some advising work is inherently reactive; students are reaching out with their problems, and we are trying to solve them.  COVID forced a rapid evolution in service delivery, and our team has used this an opportunity to improve our systems

“As a team, we are continually developing resources that can help anticipate some of those needs and reach a broader audience. We are trying to be more proactive to respond to student needs,” she says. “Another goal is going to QUIC and meeting students where they most comfortable accessing support. That is another area we are working on.”