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Willy Wonka open house welcomes nontraditional students to campus

    Nontraditional students were treated to a feast of candy at the Willy Wonka Open House on Wednesday. (Source: Women's Center)
Nontraditional students were treated to a feast of candy at the Willy Wonka open house on Wednesday. Each semester the Nontraditional Student Center and the Women’s Center host a shared open house. (Source: Women’s Center)

With candy and chocolate, The Women’s Center and Nontraditional Student Center welcomed new Wildcats into the family during their Willy Wonka-style open house.

The open house began on Wednesday at 12 p.m., drawing in more than 100 nontraditional students to the Nontraditional and Women’s Resource Center held on the third floor of the Union building.

“We wanted to provide an open house where students can come in, ask questions, meet our staff and just kick off the year,” said Debbie Cragun, coordinator for the Nontraditional Student Center.

According to Cragun, a nontraditional student is defined as anyone who is either 25 or older, married, divorced or widowed, a military veteran or a parent.

“The center is an open environment for nontraditional students to meet,” said Cragun, who has been coordinating the annual event for over eight years.

According to Cragun the event is hosted at the start of both semesters, and the Nontraditional Student Center and the Women’s Center merge for a day to hold a shared open house.

This year, the two centers decided on a Willy Wonka chocolate factory theme.

“The Women’s Center focused a lot more on the chocolate side of Willy Wonka,” said Noel Wilkinson, advisor for the Nontraditional Student Center and Hourly Childcare program, who helped prepare treats like the golden-ticket chocolate bars and candy jars.

While enticed with tables of goodies and eccentric handouts, students also learned about the resources offered at the center, including scholarship opportunities and available services.

“It’s just a great time to remind the student body that we’re here and that we can help them,” Wilkinson said.

Students were also given a brief tour of the facility including the computer lab, lounge and kitchen.

The Women’s Center open house also went very well, according to Dorothy Hill, women’s advocate and program specialist, who informed female students about the resources her organization offers.

“We had quite a few women come and learn about our services. They also signed up for different areas of interest that they wanted to participate in,” Hill said.

Along with welcoming nontraditional students to the environment, the center has big plans for the upcoming year. From hosting more events this semester to implementing new websites, a lot is being done.

According to Wilkinson, their new volunteer program is already underway.

“The upper-level nontraditional students will work with the incoming students and help them as they transition into college,” Wilkinson said. He is working on smoothing out the rough edges of the program.

Along with the volunteer program, a new online publication site will publicize Epiphany, a literary journal where nontraditional and traditional students alike can write anything from poetry to personal perspectives.

“It’s predominately nontraditional students that are contributing,” said Wilkinson. “There are a couple of sections that if you’re a traditional student, you can still submit too and they can be published as well.”

With all the new changes happening for the centers, the open house is a good way to welcome new students to their small corner on campus.

Although the department is sometimes overlooked on the way to the testing center, Wilkinson believes that both organizations can still have a huge impact on students regardless of their location.

“I love watching students come back and they’re more confident. They’ve made that transition where college is now more a part of who they are,” Wilkinson said. “And that’s really cool.”

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