Matt Chumchal, Ph.D., was bestowed the Advisor of the Year award from the Texas Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (TAAHP) in February recognizing his exemplary efforts within the Pre-Health Professions Institute. TAAHP connects Texas health professions advisors to each other and to the professional schools that students seek to enter.
Nominees must meet certain criteria including being an effective academic advisor, which is demonstrated by assisting students in their growth and development by constructing meaningful educational plans that are compatible with their life goals. “My goal is to provide holistic and developmental advising – that is, I see my students as more than just grades or test scores but as one-of-a kind individuals with unique personalities, experiences, and backgrounds. I try to provide them with advice that is aligned with their goals and that makes sense in light of their unique story. My duty is to empower my students, not to prescribe a certain path or serve as gatekeeper into the field,” Chumchal says.
Associate Professor Shauna McGillivray, Ph.D., nominated Chumchal for the award. She considered Chumchal a worthy candidate because of his innovative support process and ability to inspire others. “Matt maintains a welcoming environment based on respect. He has taken important steps to create an inclusive program for all of our students. The Pre-Health program at TCU has grown exponentially over the past decade, and Matt tirelessly advocates for the necessary resources to ensure that the quality of the program and personalized touch that the Pre-Health Professions Institute provides for its students is not lost,” McGillivray says.
Because the professional school application process is long, with students sometimes spending three or four years building their professional resumes, many will experience anxiety and self-doubt. Chumchal says, “One of my most important roles is to encourage students who find themselves wondering if they are ‘enough’ (good enough, smart enough, hard-working enough). It is my honor and pleasure to get to reassure them and empower them with the tools and resources they need to keep chasing their dreams.”
Chumchal has been nominated several times for the Wassenich Award for Mentoring in the TCU Community. For the past 15 years, Chumchal’s research has primarily focused on mercury contamination in the environment with recent areas of interest including the trophic transfer of mercury in food webs and factors that lead to spatial variation in the mercury contamination of organisms at a variety of scales. However, it’s abundantly evident that Chumchal’s priorities remain his roles as professor and advisor.
“The work we do as advisors – encouraging, guiding, and correcting our students – is sacred work. We are not only changing the lives of our individual students and their families, but through our efforts we are helping to build a bigger, better, more diverse, health care workforce. I believe that our work is absolutely essential in ensuring a just, equitable, healthy and prosperous state and nation,” Chumchal says.
Learn more about the Pre-Health Professions Institute and the Texas Association of Advisors for the Health Professions.
“I'll never forget Dr. Chumchal's graduate level course I took my senior year. His
unique style of teaching encouraged self-learning followed by roundtable discussions.
This taught me responsibility and how to understand scientific literature... these
lessons helped immensely in my doctorate program.”
— Reed Austin
“Congrats Dr. Chumchal! Through my medical school application process, he helped me
rethink and strategize to get me to where I wanted to be and what fit me best. I knew
I could always panic email or drop by his office unannounced! One of the best professors
at TCU by far.”
— Mallory Thompson
“He was there for me every step of my medical school applications, and he inspired
hope in me when it seemed like I wouldn’t make it. He was the first person I told
the day I found out I had been accepted!”
— Veronica Morgan