By Sophie Foster
The Washington College Academy of Lifelong Learning began its fall courses on Aug. 28. This semester, there will be two six-week sessions.
WC-ALL, which was originally created in 1992, marks its 30th year this semester. The program is “here to enrich the lives of people who are living in this community,” WC-ALL Administrator Sandy Brown said.
According to Brown, WC-ALL is a department of the College with an advisory board of local volunteers who form committees to run the program. Community members who pay a membership fee of $130 annually may register for as many lifelong learning courses as they want, and also receive discounted rates at campus luncheons and special events. Students, faculty, and staff, meanwhile, are invited to take WC-ALL courses for free alongside members of the local community.
While the majority of courses are “held in-person using campus facilities,” there are also classes taking place via Zoom, according to the College’s website.
“Zoom [helped] us expand some of the things we can offer,” Brown said, pointing to the addition of off-campus instructors as a positive impact of virtual learning on the program. Course offerings this semester include subjects ranging from developing business plans, to practical environmental sciences, to botanical drawing.
“This is an excellent opportunity to…engage in robust, interesting discussions on all sorts of different topics,” Brown said, adding that her primary focus at present is to “network, connect, and collaborate” in order to sustain and grow the program.
Brown identifies WC-ALL as a “gateway for the community at large to come [to campus]” for continuing lifelong education in a space that doesn’t overwhelm them with financial stress or rigorous test schedules.
While a key focus is maintaining the program at its current level, Brown, who began her work for the College in February, also wants to expand WC-ALL and “diversify courses, professors, and programs.”
After running a nonprofit for 13 years before coming to WC, Brown understands that networking is key, and she wants the campus community to understand that WC-ALL benefits instructors, members, and the College as a whole. She intends to boost engagement this year — through encouraging alumni to partake in the program and talking with students to see how the program impacts and benefits them.
According to senior Noah Vargas, “a program offering free courses for both students and members of the community can have such a beneficially positive impact for the student body.”
Vargas, noting the occasionally “up-and-down” relationship of local residents and WC students, said that encouraging students to connect with the broader Chestertown community “could really improve the bond between both and create a stronger sense of togetherness in Chestertown.” While the first session is already underway, students interested in taking a course during the second session, which will be held from Oct. 16 to Dec. 2, can sign up at washcoll.edu/wc-all. The second session will feature classes in subjects such as astronomy, film, literature, and philosophy. Questions about the programming can be directed to Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.