Shanna Pendergrast learned the value of education at an early age.
“Growing up, my parents always told me that education is one of the few things that can never be taken away from me,” Pendergrast said. “It is something that has stuck with me and led me to be curious and love learning.”
In her role as associate director of advising services for the College of Arts and Sciences, Pendergrast has the opportunity to share her curiosity and love for learning with students.
“I believe in the work we do in the college,” Pendergrast said. “I am fortunate to get to work our students one-on-one and help them define and achieve their goals.”
Pendergrast is a student of the liberal arts. She graduated from King College with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. After taking a few years off to figure out what she wanted to do, she went back to school to pursue a master’s degree in college student personnel at UT.
In June 2010, Pendergrast began working as a full-time advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences and soon moved to advising coordinator for the biological sciences, one of the first departmental advising positions. A few years later, Pendergrast became associate director, a position she thoroughly enjoys because she gets to work with both students and faculty.
When advising students, Pendergrast tells them they should not ask what they can do with a degree in arts and sciences, but what they want to do.
“Helping students understand this is important because our majors equip students with the skills and competencies that will benefit them in life, as well as those that employers are looking for in the people they hire.”
Pendergrast loves working with students at UT and thinks they are the best part of the institution.
“We have really great students who do wonderful things while they are at UT and then go on and continue to do those things in the world,” Pendergrast said. “They are also constantly teaching me new things. I learn at least one new thing from students every day. To me, we are truly a place where knowledge is co-created and not just disseminated.”
When she is not at UT, Pendergrast is reading recipes and trying out new things in the kitchen. She also crochets and serves as a mentor through her church.
“I love to cook and am a bit of a novice gardener as well,” Pendergrast said. “There is just something about eating vegetables I have grown – they seem to taste better. I definitely appreciate them more!”
Pendergrast’s mom tells her how much she resembles her great grandmother, Mama Mini, who died when Pendergrast was a baby. If she could have lunch with one person today, it would be Mama Mini.
“I would love to hear her stories and just get to know her,” Pendergrast said. “I don’t remember her, but I have been told that she was a fiercely strong woman who loved hard, prayed often, believed in family and community, and could tear it up in the kitchen.”