Campus Closeup: Lynn Walden
Atop Lynn Walden’s desk in Disability Services sits an extensive collection of bobbleheads. Beyond their novel appearance, these bobbleheads serve a valuable self-affirming function.
As Walden explains, “When I am having a bad day I just hit this and say, ‘Guys am I doing a good job?'" When all the heads bob up and down, she grins, “It’s like having my own cheering section!”
Walden finds humor is the best way to get past difficult situations and it allows students to feel comfortable. “People have to tell me what they are the worst at in the first few minutes we meet. It’s hard to feel intimidated when you are staring at the Kool-Aid man."
Named interim coordinator of disability services in October of 1995, Walden was permanently hired in the spring of 2006. Prior to joining the staff, she did private tutoring for 20 years. She also taught 44 credits for the NMU education department as an adjunct.
Walden holds three degrees from NMU: a bachelor's in mental impairment; a master's in learning disabilities; and another master's in guidance and counseling. Her job entails helping students figure out what works best for them when it comes to academics.
“It’s cool because everyone is different, so it never gets dull. The trick is to help students figure out what they are good at and how they can capitalize on that. My favorite part is when I have a student really discover what they can do.”
What the NMU Disability Services office provides is not a program, but an opportunity to supply accommodations and tools to students with diagnosed disabilities. Walden said its role is to ensure that these students have equal access to information and the same opportunities as everyone else. She sees about 200 students a semester, which Walden said is only a quarter of the students who may actually qualify for the services.
Her 20 years of tutoring experience has given her insight on many different learning strategies.
“I know many different ways to do things to help students figure out how to make changes in their study strategies so that they can be successful. It’s a partnership that involves taking what techniques work, getting rid of the ones that don't and trying to develop a process that works. It’s basically a lot of problem-solving."
Walden said one significant change over the years is how technology has provided students with options to be a part of the world at large. Technology also has provided professional resources via listservs in which she is able to communicate with several hundred other disability service providers across the country. This allows her a chance to talk about situations and get feedback from others on possible solutions. “These people can give suggestions that you never even thought of,” she said.
Outside of work, Walden enjoys spending time with family and friends, beading, reading at least three novels a week, watching old movies and listening to music.
"I love the Marquette area and the lake," she said. "It's a pretty place and people here are pretty unique with a more adventurous spirit. But I could do with a little less snow and cold.”