Campus Y Director Virginia Carson's door is always open for students.
She's the mother of the Campus Y inviting students for dinner or helping them network and plan events.
But after almost nine years as director and nearly 40 years of involvement with the Campus Y" Carson retires on June 30.
""I'm 59. I'll be 60 in December and that seems like a good time to retire"" she said.
As director, she led the Campus Y during the events of Sept. 11, the loss of former Student Body President Eve Carson last year and a relocation to the Student Union from 2005 to 2007.
Since Virginia has been here" the Y has promoted important dialogues across campus that involve faculty administrators students and the community" said Jenny Huq, director of APPLES. The conversations are important and sometimes difficult.""
Carson's ease relating to her students comes with experience.
Carson was involved with the group during her undergraduate years in the 1960s — a time when it was a center for students passionate about women's rights"" the civil rights movement and opposing the Vietnam War.
""We were in the midst of social upheaval" and the Y was the center" Carson said. I was one of those long-haired kids in granny glasses hanging out in front.""
The Campus Y helped build her self-confidence.
""For me" having people who believed in me — being taken seriously as a young person — was a big step towards believing in myself and resolving to do something worthwhile with my life she said.
Carson aimed as director to create an open atmosphere that recognized the potential in all students' ideas — never to trivialize or call anything impossible.
I knew what the Y could be for students because I knew what it was for me she said.
The Y was a place that took young people seriously where young people could act for themselves" where their ideas were valued.""
Students say Carson succeeded in creating that atmosphere.
""I don't know if anyone else could have been as open-hearted and encouraging as Virginia has been"" said senior Hayley Thompson, last year's Campus Y co-president.
In 2006, when students came to her and said they wanted to raise $1.5 million to sponsor a Millennium Village in Kenya, Carson did not say it was impossible; instead, she offered encouragement and help.
Today, they've raised almost all the money.
She encourages us to do the things we want to do no matter how crazy or outlandish or impossible these ideas may seem — she sort of inspires us and gives us hope"" Jeff Chen, last year's Campus Y co-president, said of Carson.
Students say Carson has befriended them and given them life advice.
She communicates to us that her job is not 9 a.m. to 5 p.m." but really open to us as a mentor and a friend 24 hours a day" said Jimmy Waters, the Campus Y's co-president.
A search committee is in the process of looking for a new director. But assistant director Lucy Lewis says Carson won't be easily replaced.
It will be hard to find anybody who can fill her shoes" Lewis said.
She has really touched hundreds if not thousands" of students in her time here.""
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