Yogi by morning. Academic advisor by day.
Kristina von Harten is one of the hidden heroes at Boston College. Most days she is confined to the fourth floor of the Yawkey Athletic Center in her office at Learning Resources for Student Athletes (LRSA), but her impact on the student-athletes at Boston College stretches far and wide. Her basic job description as an academic counselor is to serve as an additional resource and contact for specific varsity student-athletes. While most academic counselors help students improve their studies and have a pivotal role in their academics, Kristina goes beyond the basic job description of an academic counselor.
Although Kristina revealed that she hadn’t always imagined herself being an academic counselor, she confesses that “now it is her dream job and wouldn’t change it for anything.” Kristina graduated with her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut where she also was a student-athlete on the varsity softball team, and earned her masters in education at Tufts University. Throughout her schooling, she envisioned herself as a classroom teacher but admits that an academic counselor is “very similar to being a classroom teacher” which is probably why she loves her job as much as she does today.
In asking her what makes her feel accomplished day-to-day and also in the long run, Kristina is always focused on her student-athletes and helping them succeed on and off the field. She loves “having [her] students come in smiling and comfortable enough with [Kristina] to share whatever’s going on in their world: happy things, sad things, in between things.” Kristina emphasizes establishing a long-lasting personal connection with her student-athletes because she knows that building relationships with students and caring about their well-being is at the core of academic counseling. The most satisfying thing to Kristina is “seeing [her student-athletes] walk at graduation” knowing that she’s impacted their lives in a positive way. From the big events such as graduation and career-searching to the small everyday interactions with her student-athletes, Kristina has learned to find joy and appreciation in the little things.
At all points in the day, Kristina has mellow and uplifting songs playing in the background of her office to take the edge off the already-tense environment at Boston College. Scattered on her desks are an assortment of anxiety and stress reducing objects for her student-athletes, varying from jars filled with candy to a zen garden in the corner to help one find inner peace or relieve stress. Her office walls are teeming with inspiring posters or motivational quotes such as “positive vibes only” or “keep calm and carry on” to push people through those rough days. These are all mantras that Kristina lives by and hopes her student-athletes do too.
Although being an academic counselor, especially one as involved as Kristina, seems like it would consume a majority of your time and energy even outside of work, Kristina still finds time in her busy schedule to follow her dreams and passions. Throughout her life, Kristina has used yoga as an outlet to meditate and practice the art of mindfulness, letting go, or finding inner peace, all of which she also tries to teach her student-athletes. Kristina is an avid and dedicated yogi, practicing yoga everyday. In fact, she can’t even imagine a day without it. She even teaches morning classes at Boston College twice a week to help others find their inner yogi.
Instead of New Year’s resolutions, Kristina sets New Year’s “intentions” because there is nothing in her life that needs to be resolved. Her list of intentions includes: “To be present each day.” Check. Kristina focuses her energies on the current and now and also encourages her student-athletes to do the same. “To do more yoga.” Check. Kristina fills her days with yoga (or netflixing with her dog). “To fall in love.” Still working on this new year’s intention, but it’s only January, so I think it’s safe to say we’re okay here. “And to let go of things that no longer serve me.” Kristina lives life with no regrets. She is “thankful for all of it — the good stuff and the bad stuff.” As any other person, Kristina has had her ups and downs but doesn’t believe in dwelling in the past or on the negative. She fully “embraces what God and the universe has in store.”
“To be present each day. To do more yoga. To fall in love. And to let go of things that no longer serve me.”
Most people fail to recognize those people who have helped them reach their goals and pushed them past their hard times. This is not the case for Kristina. Many student-athletes around Boston College rave about Kristina and everything she does for them. She is well-known among the student-athletes community for not only being helpful with academics but also going above and beyond to understand and care about her studen-athlete’s personal issues. While there are many academic counselors around, there aren’t many like Kristina.