Carlton Pickron, Ed.D., had been a counselor for Urban Education for five years when he accepted Azanda Seymour ’92 into the program. Now its director, Seymour says Dr. Pickron has consistently served as an incredible mentor to her. “There’s not much that I do professionally or personally that I don’t reach out to him for advice about,” she says.
Offering support is the foundation of Urban Education, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in November 2018 with a celebratory gala. During the same year, Westfield State prepared to bid farewell to Dr. Pickron, the vice president for Student Affairs who was instrumental in growing the successful student-centered program; he will soon retire following more than 35 years of impactful service to the University.
Urban Education started in 1968 with a mission to support students through the transition to college, with fewer than 10 students, and it has grown to serve 300. “I had a mother tell me directly, ‘I’m sending my son to you, and I expect you to be there to support him, to work withhim,’” Dr. Pickron recalls, noting the program offers one-on-one mentorship that helps students develop academically and socially.
At the gala last fall, program influencers were celebrated, including Dr. Pickron, founder Gus Chrisanthopoulos, and faculty members Gerald Tetrault and John Benvenuto.
Seymour worked tirelessly to make sure the event well celebrated the program’s legacy. “The staff here is phenomenal,” she says. “Their work is about giving students the room to grow into the adults they’re intended to be and nurturing them throughout that process.”
Both Seymour and Dr. Pickron say the work of the Urban Education program comes together on graduation day. “We know the journey that the students have taken to get here,” says Seymour. “Some of those students didn’t think they would go to college, never mind graduate.”
Dr. Pickron adds, “Graduation is my favorite day of the year. The students beam. I’m really thankful to have played a small part in that major success.”