It took Caroline Bloodworth a little while to figure out what path her career would take.
She started college as a chemical engineering major and switched that to public health two and a half years later, earning a bachelor’s degree in that field in 2018. Now, Bloodworth serves as an academic advisor in UGA’s College of Public Health. Her own journey helps when advising students because she’s able to share the twists and turns of her career path.
“I figured out what I was good at and interested in and passionate about, which is helpful when talking with students who are trying to figure out their own path,” she said.
After earning her bachelor’s degree, Bloodworth moved to Athens and took a position with the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Northeast Health District Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response, which aligned with a couple of internships she completed as an undergraduate student. She started that job eight months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
In that role, Bloodworth worked with Jessica Muilenburg, professor and assistant dean for strategic initiatives and assessment in the College of Public Health, on a social marketing campaign around COVID-19. Muilenburg mentioned that the college had an advising position open and thought Bloodworth might be a good fit because she enjoyed working with students on the campaign. Bloodworth applied and started her job at UGA in August 2021.
“I was able to find my passion in public health, and wanted to guide future public health workers on that path as well,” she said.
One of the reasons Bloodworth is equally as passionate about advising is the role her own advisors played when she was a student. She had advisors who encouraged her to take on too much, but she also had advisors who took the time to guide her, explain and point her toward resources.
“I really appreciated the ways my academic advisors helped me,” she said. “I’ve always liked helping people, and I thought being able to do that with students would be great.”
Bloodworth has a caseload of 200 to 230 students, meeting at least once per semester to talk about their class schedules as well as their interests and career goals. She also has drop-in hours and follow-up appointments. All of that gets documented so that she can keep track of each student and ensure they’re on track to graduate.
“A lot of it is putting together different puzzle pieces,” she said. “It’s about helping them identify what they’re interested in, what they’re passionate about and what’s going to get them there.”
Additionally, she participates in orientation and interest fairs, answering questions about the College of Public Health.
Bloodworth’s day usually begins with answering emails. She then meets with an average of six students each day. She also spends time preparing for the next day’s meetings.
That time with students is what Bloodworth enjoys most about her role.
“I really like talking with students,” she said. “I like hearing about how their semester is going, if there are organizations that they’re really interested in and how their classes are going.”
Outside of work, Bloodworth spends as much time as she can with friends and family. She also enjoys hiking and creative activities like knitting, crocheting, baking, playing board games and reading (with a goal of 52 books per year). In addition, she began earning her master’s degree in public administration from the School of Public and International Affairs in August 2022.
In the meantime, she continues to guide public health students on their own path.
“I hope people know that academic advising is really about forming connections with your students, understanding where they’re coming from and what makes them tick and helping them reach their goals,” she said. “We can help get them to where they need to go.”