Pursuing a Passion for Art and Education
- Arcadia University
Arcadia University, located in the rolling hills outside Philadelphia, commits itself to academic excellence and to providing personal attention to each of its students. Welcoming and supportive of mature women seeking an undergraduate degree, Arcadia University was among the first institutions to receive funding for scholarships from the Newcombe Foundation in 1981. The Newcombe Foundation celebrates this longstanding partnership that has benefitted so many mature women at Arcadia over the years.
The following is an overview of Arcadia University's program in support of mature women students written by Drusilla Buscemi, Major Gifts Officer.
"I can't imagine a day without art," says Yvonna Walls, who earned a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts in December 2010. The road was not easy, but with determination, perseverance and assistance, Yvonna proved she could do it. She is the first in her family to receive a college degree.
Yvonna's journey began in 2004 with the realization that, as the mother of three children, she needed to become financially independent. She enrolled in Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania to pursue a career in graphic design. While there, she became increasingly drawn to fine arts. At the time, she was teaching art classes at a senior center and witnessed the impact creating art had on seniors, particularly those who had suffered strokes. She also saw the power of art within her own family. Her son was having difficulty learning the alphabet, but Yvonna discovered a way to teach him about letters by working with clay.
Once she realized that her interests lay in fine arts, Yvonna decided to explore career options and decided she would like to become an art teacher. With the support and encouragement from two of her own community college teachers, she looked into transferring to a school where she could specialize in art education. "I was immediately drawn to Arcadia because of the Castle, but it came down to financial aid and which school could help me the most," she says.
She worked very closely with Holly Kirkpatrick, Director of Financial Aid and Director of Enrollment Management, to see if it was financially possible to attend Arcadia. Receiving the Newcombe Scholarship was a complete "lifesaver" according to Yvonna; "It completely covered my funding gap. Just knowing it was there each semester was a big relief." After learning that she had received Newcombe Scholarship support, Yvonna cried. "Knowing the story of Charlotte Newcombe and the fact she never went to college but was ready to help others complete their education had a big impact on me. "
Yvonna began classes at Arcadia in 2007. While she flourished in her art courses, other classes were not so easy, particularly mathematics. Fortunately, Yvonna was able to receive the assistance she needed to succeed in these challenging courses at Arcadia University's Learning Resource Network, which offers a wide range of academic support services, including subject tutoring and study skills appropriate for students' learning styles and within the learning context. One-on-one mentoring allows the tutor to meet the needs of individual students and specifically address their concerns. The tutors also understand the pressures of getting good grades, the need to balance school with jobs, socializing, and family responsibilities. The Learning Resource Network works in conjunction with other campus resources such as the Writing Center and the Computer Science/Math Lab, in order to provide a broad range of academic support to help students succeed.
In addition to academic support, Arcadia University recognizes that mature students may require individual counseling to help them with personal concerns and/or adjustment issues. Through Arcadia's Counseling Center, full-time students receive unlimited counseling sessions and part-time students receive two free sessions per semester and at a reduced rate thereafter. Staff in each area work closely with their peers and will refer students to other resources as appropriate.
The majority of mature learners return to a university to complete their degrees in order to improve their job prospects, or because they want to obtain a particular job. The Office of Career Development is designed to support students as they connect their Arcadia University education to their career goals. Working one-on-one, career counselors work with students to clarify their work-related interests and abilities and to evaluate suitable careers. Counselors coach students, offering advice about how they can make themselves more marketable in a competitive job market.
Yvonna also attributes her success to personal attention from her professors. Small class sizes are cornerstones of the educational experience at Arcadia University, enabling professors to know - and pay attention to - each individual student. All classes at Arcadia are taught by faculty members, and the undergraduate program is structured so that professors provide educational counseling to every student. The student-to-professor ratio remains low, with typically thirteen students to every professor.
After Yvonna completes her 12-weeks of teacher training, she hopes to have an impact on children who learn in a different way but most of all, she wants to show children that art enriches the lives of everyone.
For further information about Arcadia University, please visit the website.