Recent Albion College graduate Lynette Gumbleton, ‘19, recently became the new assistant director for the Albion’s Big Read program. As assistant director, Gumbleton runs the Big Read’s social media platforms and website, helps organize Big Read events, helps develop the structure for the leadership program and assists the director, Jess Roberts, in other ways to improve the program.
Gumbleton graduated with a double major in biology and Spanish and a minor in anthropology. Her involvement in the Big Read began by passing out information sheets at the Big Read Kickoffs during her undergraduate years. This previous experience with the program led her to quickly accept Robert’s offer to become the new assistant director.
“I accepted because the things the Big Read is about – youth empowerment, community building – are things that, I believe, make this world better,” said Gumbleton.
Gumbleton’s experience with the Big Read as a college volunteer set her up on a path to help carry on the mission of the Big Read program.
“The goals [I have for the program are] to make sure each kid feels valued, loved and heard, create new and stronger connections in the community, and to spread Big Read love,” said Gumbleton.
Gumbleton believes the commute from Kalamazoo to Albion for the Big Read program is well worth the time. She sees involvement in the program as a way to help inspire a love of reading in Albion’s youth. Under the guidance of Jess Roberts, she also views it as a learning opportunity.
“Jess is an incredible person – super thoughtful, smart, kind, and value-driven, all things I want to be around and do more,” said Gumbleton. “She is a powerful woman and community organizer, both things I am trying to be.”
During her college career, the only times Gumbleton met people from Albion’s community were through volunteering, first through volunteering to help beautify Holland Park and then through volunteering for the Big Read. Gumbleton went on to explain how she never really understood the important connection between the college and the community until she was involved in these volunteering opportunities.
“To the Albion College students, I would say find ways to actually see and build real connections with the community,” said Gumbleton. “If you don’t know of any, come to our Big Read events, which are all throughout this wonderful month of October, and create ways that the clubs and things you are apart of to truly be a part of the Albion community.”
As a student at Albion College, Gumbleton felt encouraged to become involved with both Albion’s campus and its community. She recognized the importance of building up her community within Albion College’s campus and the city of Albion, and she saw volunteering for the Big Read as a way to do just that.
“Albion really is beautiful because of the people that are here,” said Gumbleton. “Albion truly is a neighborhood built from love. The people of Albion are full of mightiness and wisdom.”