On June 7th, Lydia Burleson began her first day as Dwight Hall’s new communications and alumni engagement associate. Lydia’s first glance out her second-floor office window revealed the High Street entrance into Old Campus and an 1874 statue constructed in the likeness of Abraham Pierson. The day was a warm and sunny and auspicious for other reasons: June 7th is Lydia’s birthday. Having come from poverty in rural Texas and recently graduated from Yale with a degree in English, Lydia brings a wealth of experience and perspective. Her excitement to join the Dwight Hall team was matched by Lydia’s welcoming committee: Peter Crumlish, executive director, David Wilkins, director of philanthropy, and Bridie, Peter’s exceptionally sweet dog.
An alum of Yale’s Jonathan Edwards College, Lydia graduated cum laude in May with a degree in English and a nonfiction creative writing concentration. Her work with Dwight Hall marks a continuation of her dedication to increasing accessibility and visibility of marginalized identities in and around New Haven. Working with Dwight Hall combines Lydia’s interests in public service and increasing visibility through language and media representation.
Lydia in her 2021 graduation regalia
Originally from rural Texas, Lydia was a first-generation low-income QuestBridge scholar at Yale. During her college years, Lydia’s Dwight Hall experiences included free college advising with student-led member groups REACH and Matriculate. Most recently, Lydia was a 2020-2021 recipient of Dwight Hall’s Community Response Fellowship, which sponsored her communications and curriculum development work with the New Haven nature nonprofit Gather New Haven. Dwight Hall empowered Lydia to uplift other disadvantaged students and to increase access to education for people who might not have otherwise received these resources. Lydia’s experience with Dwight Hall as a student will serve her as she leads the organization’s communications and alumni engagement efforts.
Given her own upbringing, Lydia also has personal experience overcoming adversity. Neither of Lydia’s parents went to college, and only through nonprofit organizations like QuestBridge and CollegePoint was Lydia empowered to apply and ultimately matriculate to Yale. Both as a student volunteer and as a personal recipient of public service fellowships, Lydia has seen firsthand how much impact Dwight Hall can have in fostering change and promoting social justice. She is excited to be an integral part in continuing that work.
Please join us in welcoming Lydia!