It is with great honor that the Center for Service-Learning commemorates the life of UW-Eau Claire alumna Barbara Rolland (1929-2018).
Beginning in the 1960’s, and even after her passing in July of 2018, Barbara has been a pillar of the UW-Eau Claire community and the greater Chippewa Valley.
Upon graduating from UW-Eau Claire in 1960, Barbara returned to the university to teach English and French as a second language. She also served as an advisor for foreign students, supervised the French Honors Society, orchestrated a summer program for international students, and helped establish the International Folk Fair.
As if her selfless dedication to the UW-Eau Claire languages department wasn’t admirable enough, Barbara also left an unforgettable mark on the service-learning community.
Beginning in 1994, Barbara and her husband Alvin created the 3 to 5 Club; an after school tutoring program for grade school students that offered one-on-one help from university students, who would in turn earn service-learning for their work.
The club was held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-5pm, where students referred by teachers, social workers, or counselors could receive the help they needed to succeed in school. Held at the Presbyterian Church in Eau Claire, Barbara provided a homemade library and snacks for the students as they arrived for tutoring.
The program eventually expanded when the Rollands were asked if they would be willing to help a student who had been expelled from school. They agreed, and started another program called New Beginnings; a reflection of the countless fresh starts students could reach through the program.
Barbara’s program even caught the attention of the local school district, who graciously offered to supply textbooks, test materials, and other school supplies for participating students.
As an add-on to 3 to 5 Club, New Beginnings was held at the exact same time and location, but was meant specifically for students who had been expelled or kicked out of school and were in need of a second chance. On average, around 40 grade school students took part in the program each year, with ages ranging anywhere from 7 to 17.
With such a variety in grade levels, each student’s journey was unique; and the Rollands were sure to accommodate and foster diversity within the program. While some students were led to New Beginnings because of expulsion, others were foreign students experiencing adjustment issues or had fallen behind in school due to illness or injury.
While enriching the lives of grade school students in need of academic assistance, Barbara simultaneously bettered the lives of the university students volunteering their time with the program.
Not only were they able to help these children get ahead in school, but Barbara also encouraged an environment that fostered a bond between student and tutor.
“I planned to help tutor these kids, but also to be a role model for them,” said Hannah Geis, a UW-Eau Claire Psychology student who completed her service-learning through New Beginnings back in 2012.
Hannah also noted that her time spent volunteering for Barbara’s program helped her grow into a more responsible adult, and taught her how important patience is when working with children.
By the end of her time with New Beginnings, Hannah noted that the program even helped her narrow down her career goals post-graduation.
“I may decide to become a child or family counselor, and [New Beginnings] helped me make that decision,” she reflected.
Although the Rollands retired from 3-5 Club/New Beginnings in 2014, their legacy and unforgettable impact on the Eau Claire community still remain strong.
The bright light that Barbara brought to her students each day will continue to shine through Blugolds new and old. Her impact lives on through every education student who wants to make a difference, and every grade school student looking for a second chance.