Finding the right path

UMD alumna steering Colorado college students toward success

Kimberly Knourek is an academic advisor at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. She enjoys being part of students’ lives. 

Some of her appointments are straightforward and others are downright complicated. For instance, “one student wasn’t sure about what major to choose,” Knourek says. “He knew he liked planes and helicopters. One of my special skills is that I know a little about a lot of things, and I can have a conversation about almost anything.” The two talked about the history major and also about joining the Army or Air Force. They had a lot to discuss. “We talked for an entire hour.”

Knourek meets students as they arrive on campus. “We continuously keep up with students as they go through their college career,” she says. “I like it. The new job feels like a good spot for me.”

She takes a comprehensive approach to the position. She’s aware of trends in job opportunities; she can match the academic offerings with student interests; and she practices being a good listener. Her skill set makes her a good fit for her role as an academic advisor for communication majors and undecided students.

The Road to Colorado Springs

Knourek came to her current position through a circular route. She received a B.A. in developmental and child psychology from the University of Minnesota in 2019 and an M.A. in Psychological Science with a focus on clinical counseling from UMD in 2021. 

She interned at Duluth’s Human Development Center during her master’s program. She worked primarily with middle schoolers, but helped people of all ages. The COVID pandemic took a toll on both Knourek and her patients. “It was a difficult time for many people,” she says. Certain populations felt the effects more strongly than others. “I noticed middle school children especially were struggling with social anxiety and introversion.” 

Knourek could relate to the children and families. “I also noticed a difference in my own social needs during the pandemic,” she says. “COVID  affected my social battery. I had to re-learn how to be happy without social interaction.” 

Her next position was in the Twin Cities as a mental health professional at a community mental health organization. She worked primarily with lower-income families and practiced intensive treatment techniques for kids with emotional and behavioral issues. 

After a year of work in Duluth, Knourek made a big change in direction. She moved from Duluth to the new job in Colorado Springs. Nevertheless, she continued to aid people with their needs. Knourek went from helping people with their mental health to helping people with their career decisions. 

Written by UMD students Eleanore Hunt, who is majoring in writing studies and Eva Moua, who is majoring in communication. Eleanore and Eva work with Cheryl Reitan in University Marketing and Public Relations.