By Dana Cadey

Dean of Students Maya Dietz hosted a student-only Zoom forum this morning to introduce the second candidate for program manager of the Wholeness Center, Becky Coles. Seven students attended, in addition to the Pilot. 

Coles, a Principia College alum, said that she is “excited” by the idea of the Wholeness Center, calling it “a safe place for students to go and explore what they’re thinking about…or if there’s challenges that come along with their experience at Prin.” 

The Office of Student Life recently put together a comprehensive vision for the Wholeness Center and its various programs and services; from anxiety and depression counseling to addiction prevention to swimming lessons, the center is an ambitious step by the administration that aims to put Principia on par with other colleges that already offer this kind of aid.

Coles discussed her career thus far, including her involvement in both the education and social work sectors. Coles has a master’s degree in social work, which has taken her around the country to places including inner-city Chicago, New Mexico, and North Carolina.

She also has strong roots with the greater-Alton community through her role as a school social worker in East Alton after graduating from Principia. 

Coles started a special education parent-teacher organization in New York to make it easier for parents of special needs children to navigate schooling challenges. Coles’ current work mostly involves helping people with special needs obtain the resources that they need to remain within their communities.

“I love working with people,” said Coles.

Coles shared her passion for Christian Science and her familiarity with the religion, calling it her “lens” for how she looks at the world and relates to people. She enjoys having discussions about different belief systems, not wanting to “push” Christian Science on anyone, but instead using the religion to interpret the struggles that she encounters.

“I have seen a lot, both personally…as well as professionally,” said Coles, speaking on her friendships and connections with people from all backgrounds. Coles applied this to her ability to meet students “wherever they are” mentally and spiritually, which she said she would strive to do if given the manager position.

A primary goal of the center should be making students feel valued and respected, said Coles. As part of a Christian Science institution, the center might not be able to meet “all of the different needs in a physical way,” but it can at least find out what the needs of the community are.

“The Wholeness Center is there to help students on their journey of life, and hopefully there would be a spiritual part to that, whatever that might be,” said Coles.

Junior Olivia Denson, who attended the interview, said that she enjoyed hearing from an applicant who expresses an eagerness to help people find comfort and acceptance in life.

“I think [Coles] fits perfectly into [my] expectation of the Wholeness Center hire,” said Denson. “She has 40-plus years of experience under her belt and a passion for enabling people to express themselves as God sees them. I think she would bring a vision and all the necessary skills…needed for the job.”

The first candidate for manager of the Wholeness Center was introduced in a Zoom forum on July 28, and students can meet the third candidate on July 31 at 11:30 a.m. CDT by registering through the link in the July 26 email to students from Dietz.

Featured photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash.