Media Credit: Mark Russum
A look at the room that inspired Wilbraham nee
Van Der Aa’s donation.Jon Marcus
Issue date: 11/21/07 Section: News
Remember the question that was supposed to be a conversation starter: “What would you do with $100,000?” Well, it is now Eastern’s turn to start that conversation.
Eastern ’02 alumna Kelly Wilbraham nee Van Der Aa, has donated $100,000 to the Cushing Center for Counseling and Academic Support. CCAS has reported that they will use this money to develop the Writing Center located in Walton Hall.
By the request of Wilbraham, the money will be spent to revamp only the Writing Center. Because the money is only allowed to be used for the Writing Center, CCAS and Student Development can focus on how to make the Writing Center the best it can be, instead of trying to stretch out every penny.
Since receiving the donation, Vice President of Student Development Bettie Ann Brigham has already interviewed three different interior designers. Their choice, Larisa McShane and Associates, hopes to restore the original architecture to the room while making it a more comfortable place to learn.
Brigham has also said that no final decisions have been made concerning how all of the donation will be spent. “Our hope is to improve the computers in the room and add updated hardware and software programs for those with reading and writing disabilities,” Brigham said.
As a student at Eastern, Wilbraham used CCAS to help her through her academics. In the sixth grade, Wilbraham was diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disability that hampers the reading and writing abilities of the many people who suffer from the learning disability.
Having documentation of her disability, Wilbraham used the Writing Center to take tests. “When I took my tests, I always thought to myself that the room was so dark and drab,” Wilbraham said. “It’s important for any student to reach out for academic support when they need it, so I want students to be able to enjoy the room(s) and atmosphere where they are learning.”
For students who use the Writing Center facilities on a consistent basis, the news of the refurnishing was a pleasant surprise. Junior and CCAS tutor Alicia Boaman is excited for how the donation can help the students she sees on a daily basis. “One of the main problems here in the Writing Center is the noise,” said Boaman. “If there was a way to create more but separate space to quiet the noise, that would be wonderful.”
However, Boaman says that caution and careful planning is needed before any of the donated money is spent. “What we need in the Writing Center is a way to prevent the noise and distractions we already have,” Boaman said. “Adding computers to the room may draw more people. More people means more noise and distraction.”
According to Boaman, “The goal of the Writing Center is to build better writers, not better writing.” It is the hope of Student Development, CCAS, Wilbraham, Boaman and other tutors that the donated money will help do just that.