“May you come safely through the war,” wrote Professor Earl Aldrich in a personal note to Gilbert Holmberg in March 1944 as the former student prepared to report for naval duty in WWII. Holmberg was one of many students in the V-12, a program that provided liberal arts education to future naval officers. He took English classes with Aldrich and, like so many Drew students before and since, developed a bond with his professor that lasted well beyond the classroom.
Holmberg also found a helping hand on his English papers, as well as math and science homework, from a group of Theological students who volunteered as tutors.
Holmberg was so grateful for the education and academic support he received at Drew that, years after finishing his studies at Cornell, serving in the Navy, raising a family and a successful career in sales, he established a planned gift of life insurance at Drew. When he passed away in 2006, the gift created a fund to support tutoring. His gift is now assuring that future generations of Drew students have access to the same kind of help that made such a difference for him.
“My dad always credited his academic experience at Drew – the curriculum, support, and most importantly the people– in preparing him for his personal and professional journey through life. He was profoundly grateful for this and many, many times said it made all the difference,” explained Karl Holmberg, Gilbert’s oldest son.
The Gilbert Holmberg Endowment, which has received additional contributions from the Holmberg family, helps provide tutorial services to students free of charge. Students who serve as tutors participate in training on theory and practice. Assistant Director of Academic Services, Dr. Maya Sanyal G’10, believes that these tutors gain as much as from the program as the clients. “I see them develop people skills, time management, leadership and subject mastery; skills they innately had but maybe never tapped into.”
Tutor and aspiring teacher Karina Russ C’14 says, “Our role is not to give answers, but to help students with concepts. For instance, when students have trouble writing, I have them push away the computer and just focus on the ideas instead of the words. ”
Students can get help with writing or academic subjects, the most common subjects being statistics and introductory science classes that non-majors are taking to fulfill their liberal arts breadth requirements. As Dr. Sanyal sees it, “The demand for tutoring is an indication that courses are academically rigorous. Drew sets a high bar, but is also providing the academic support to help students succeed.”
Andrew Binger C’13, an English major himself, works with writing tutors. “It’s not just struggling writers who use the program. I find it useful to have someone with a different perspective. It helps me produce my best work.”
Learn more about how to create a planned gift that supports Drew’s important educational mission.