The "nieces" and "aunts" who participate share similar personal and academic interests, as well as the experience of attending Wilson College. Students who sign up for an Aunt Sarah receive tokens in the form of cards, letters, emails and suprise packages.
Beginning on Sat, Feb. 19 in Lenfest Commons, with handouts of free Girl Scout cookies, students could sign up for the program by filling out a simple, registration form. So far 93 students signed up for this program, including a few men.
The Aunt Sarah program was in place for many years, but several factors led to it dying off. Alumnae Relations Director, Marybeth Famulare thinks that the timing is perfect for the program’s reemergence.
Famulare says, “The program went dormant a couple of years ago. The turnover rate in this office contributed to that, as well as a declining interest on the part of both parties. Some participants felt underappreciated,” she continues, “Also, there is a lot of work that goes into this. All of these things impact the program’s continuity.”
The Aunt Sarah program reemerges and supports students
Prior to the Commission on Shaping the Future of Wilson College, whose work culminated in the Board of Trustees vote to change several aspects of the college and to become a co-educational institution, interest in restarting the Aunt Sarah program emerged. Formulare was contacted by alumnae wishing to support students, and she decided to speed up the program’s return.
“The Commission’s efforts reengaged a lot of alumnae/i for various reasons. Despite some of the tension between members of our community, they still want to reach out to support students,” said Famulare. “They share in the Wilson experience. It’s not about the current issues, but something positive for both parties to share in.”
Diana Freedman ‘16 has interest in gaining an Aunt Sarah and understands the goal of the program.
“I am interested in it because it’s about encouragement. I think it’s nice to look forward to those little surprises,” said Freedman.
Famulare facilitates the exchanges between the program participants.
“Students and alumnae/I can remain anonymous, if they wish. Correspondence can come through my office and I’ll make sure the recipient gets it,” said Formulare.
Sharon Falk ’93 volunteers her time to organize alumnae/I outreach to students and pair students with their Aunt Sarah.
“I use the form that students fill out, but sometimes I just get a feel for who should be matched up together,” said Falk. “It’s about networking. Alumnae/I experiences might help students in their career.”
Falk’s own personal experiences with the program while a Wilson student motivate her.
“I want people to have memories like I have of my Aunt Sarah,” said Falk. “She would make these giant cookie platters for me and I would be very popular for a couple of days,” Falk says.
Margaret Fasnacht ‘96 enjoys the idea of being an Aunt Sarah.
“When I first arrived at college I received a witch tin for Halloween from my Aunt. It made me feel so good. I still have the tin today,” said Fasnacht. “Being on the recipient end I know how important those little gifts can be. If you’re having a bad day, it can make a difference. I am happy to share with the students the same kind of kindness that was shown to me,” she says.
The Aunt Sarah program remains open for enrollment to any student. In order for the program to succeed, students are expected to respond to their aunts in a timely and courteous manner.
Contact Marybeth Famulare at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.