Academic services coordinator Vanessa Cogswell was recently honored with the prestigious Judy Boyte Innovative Academic Advising Award by the Academic Advising Council at the University of Central Florida for her unique approach to helping students. Since the Fall 2011 term, Cogswell has been helping at-risk, probationary and readmitted students improve their grades through her Peer Outreach Mentoring Program (POMP) at UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

Over the past year, POMP has averaged a 95% success rate, and even earned national praise during the National Academic Advising Association’s 36th Annual Conference.

Cogswell won the Judy Boyte award due to the success of her program through her unique coaching framework.

“In sports, a coach brings a team of people together to accomplish a common goal,” said Cogswell. “I took this concept and applied it to the Peer Outreach Mentoring Program. By building camaraderie among the students and empowering them to contribute to the group, they are working as a team to successfully reach their goal.”

POMP pairs struggling students with peer mentors to deliver presentations on important academic and social topics, such as test-taking strategies and stress management tips, during the program’s biweekly meetings. The goal of this effort is to not only gain organizational and scholarly advice, but the camaraderie between the mentors and mentees creates a support system.

“POMP is a support system for students who need a little extra encouragement, direction or advice,” said Cogswell. “Our peer mentors must not only be able to help their mentees academically, but must also be able to empathize with them. That balance offers the support that our members need to succeed.”

Cogswell has also integrated alumni mentors and guest speakers into her program, who engage and motivate both the mentees and mentors.

“The innovative efforts by Ms. Cogswell motivate and empower all of her POMP members,” said director of student services Lori Ashby, who nominated Cogswell for the Judy Boyte Award. “She is truly an outstanding academic advisor who has had an impact on students’ success.”

The Judy Boyte Award celebrates outstanding innovation in academic advising. The award is named in honor of Judy Boyte, the first professional academic advisor at UCF, who established the first academic advising office, advising policies, and academic standards.

Students, who wish to enroll in the program as a mentee or mentor, should contact Vanessa Cogswell at