James Madison University

Dr. Sara Finney Receives Award

Dr. Sara Finney received the Provost Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising. This award is presented to a person who has made significant contributions and superlative achievement in the delivery of quality advising.  For the past 9 years, Sara has served as an advisor to masters students in the Psychological Sciences MA program and to PhD students in the Assessment & Measurement doctoral program. Sara's mentorship takes many forms including publishing work with graduate students (23 or her 31 publications are co-athored by students), securing partnerships with various organizations to provide student practica and internship experiences, and serving as the Quantitative Psychology Concentration Coordinator within the Psychological Sciences MA program.  

PHOTO: Sara Finney

Students nominating Sara for this award noted her committment to student development: "To know anything about Sara’s style of advising, you need to know about her mastery with being able to challenge her students to excel, while at the same time providing support to ensure they prevail. For those instances in which we falter, Sara is there to support us such that an obstacle in the way of our success does not become a roadblock."  Another student noted: "Dr. Finney’s extremely positive, supportive, caring, and kind personality combined with her passion, advising expertise, and commitment to students makes her an ideal advisor. It is difficult to communicate just how much Dr. Finney was a positive influence on my life, but I know that I am more confident, a better communicator, more independent, more professional, and found my own passion because she was my advisor."

Former students also noted Sara's mentorship when seeking employment: "Sara is also tirelessly dedicated to ensuring her advisees have access to rewarding careers upon graduation from the program. She builds bridges between graduates and employers that students alone would not be able to build. I owe my past job and my current job to Sara’s ability to network with leaders in the educational measurement community." Another of Sara's graduates noted, "When I realized that I wanted a career in quantitative psychology, Sara not only made sure that I was prepared academically, but also helped me network at conferences by introducing me to professionals in the field, helped identify opportunities for service (e.g., reviewing for journals, volunteering for professional organizations), and helped me search out and obtain an internship that has led to a job that I love. I can honestly say that I owe my career to her. And although my professional career is in its infancy, I know that Sara’s work and preparation will continue to positively impact my future in ways that are too many to count."

Sara's graduates also noted her continued mentorship past graduation:  "Since I graduated, I have been surprised at how quickly time has passed and how rapidly my life has changed. However, one thing that has remained constant is Sara’s presence in my life. I am learning that she is not one of those people who simply fades out of one’s life after graduation. To the contrary, I feel as though she is every bit my mentor today as she was while I was in school. And to this day, I know that she is only a phone call or an email away. Although I can no longer claim her as my current academic advisor, I am happy to say that she is a lifelong mentor."  Another of Sara's former advisees noted: "Sara was a wonderful professor and academic adviser to me during my graduate program; however, I consider her not only an academic mentor but more critically a life mentor and an example to which I aspire."  A recent graduate noted, "The value of Sara's advising pays off for me in my career every single day. She was and will always be one of my role models, which in and of itself makes me a better person. She is the type of advisor and mentor who comes along once in a lifetime, if at all, and I am incredibly fortunate to have had her as my mentor."