Posted on Monday, November 1, 2021
Colleen Wilson '97, Community and Corporations Relations Manager at DICK'S Sporting Goods, Co-Director of RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards), and new member of Westminster College's Alumni Council, shares her treasured memories during her time at Westminster, what she's accomplished since graduation, and the importance of trying new things. Read the recent Q&A and lean into what makes Westminster College so special through the people who grew here.
You’ve recently been back to campus for Alumni Council – from your perspective, tell me the ways campus has changed and stayed the same since your time as a student from 1993 – 1997.
There have been some changes that I have noticed in the Student Union, dorms, sports facilities, etc. since I have been a student on campus. It's good to see Westminster evolving with students' needs and improving spaces that are inviting for visitors and students. But, it's also nice to see places like Old Main that remain the same and are a staple on campus.
Tell me a little bit about where you’ve been following graduation.
When I graduated from Westminster, I was hired by Westminster as an Admission Counselor. It was a memorable year, but moved on to seek a job in elementary education. I taught first grade for eight years and have now been employed by DICK'S Sporting Goods for the last 15 years. Fortunately, I get to spend time with several of my Westminster friends and like to travel with them. I like to be outdoors and enjoy concerts and sports. I enjoy spending time with my family and volunteering when I get the chance.
What was one of your most treasured memories during your time at Westminster?
There are so many good memories that I have from my time at Westminster from making lasting friendships to student government & sorority life and Volley Rock was so much fun! But, I would say one of my unique memories from Westminster was when I was asked to be part of the security team when Maya Angelou visited campus. I had a brief and wonderful interaction with Ms. Angelou that I will always remember.
What’s something you learned during your time at Westminster that still guides you to this day?
Try new things. Westminster provided opportunities for me to learn and grow in ways that were unexpected. The encouragement and support that I received from faculty and staff helped me to set me on a path to experience new things that I may not have tried on my own.
Tell me about your involvement and passion for RYLA.
I attended RYLA as a student in 1992 and loved the program. One of the counselors, also a Westminster alumna, Stacy Wagner Gallagher '91, invited me to join the staff in 1995 and have been affiliated with the program since then. I have been a counselor and most recently the Co-Director for RYLA 7280. RYLA is a one of a kind experience for the students and staff. Our dedicated staff conducts the week's leadership programming at Westminster. RYLA brings together approximately 120 rising high school seniors from the northwest corner of PA from Rotary District #7280. The students receive scholarships from their local Rotary clubs and are chosen in a variety of ways, but we inevitably receive the best of the best from the schools in the district. Every summer we are inspired by the students' leadership skills, their tenacity to overcome obstacles, and the courage to be vulnerable with their new RYLA friends. After a two year hiatus, we are super excited to have RYLA return to Westminster in summer of 2022.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of joining Westminster College’s Alumni Council and re-engaging with Westminster in this way?
Hopefully, it will be a good way to give back to Westminster and connect with other alumni.
Why do you think alumni should consider connecting with Westminster again? What benefits does this connection mean? How does it feel to connect with a place that meant at such a primitive season of your life?
Connecting with Westminster gives alumni the chance to give back to current and prospective students. I think about the opportunities that were provided to me throughout my time at Westminster and in the years that followed and feel grateful for the people that guided me with advice or experiences to help me succeed. Westminster is a very special place and want to see others have the same experience.
Colleen majored in Elementary Education during her time at Westminster.
Read more of the Wake Up with Wiley here.