Full-Circle Moment: Communications Alumna Finds New Role at Rowan as Parent Advocate

Wilson Hall, on the campus of Rowan University

Two generations of #RowanPROUD alumni live in the Wilner household. 

Lisa, from West Deptford (Gloucester County), earned her degree from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in Communications — with a minor in Advertising and concentration in Marketing — in 1986. Her son, Ben, graduated with a Music degree in 2018 and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Higher Education at the College of Education

Bunce Hall at Rowan University
Lisa Ann Wilner graduated from Glassboro State College, now Rowan University, in 1986.

Lisa’s seasoned career included high-level management roles among nonprofits such as the Children’s Miracle Network and the Arthritis Foundation and production credits for Warner Brothers and Suburban Cable (now Comcast). 

“I had access to things because Rowan was on my résumé,” Lisa said. “At that point I was competing with students from Syracuse and other [top-tier communication] schools.”

When it came time for her son to choose a college, Lisa’s alma mater was one of a few on Ben’s radar. He was also accepted to nearby Temple and received scholarship money from several other universities. But it was a chance meeting with John Woodruff, director of the Academic Success Center, that changed everything for Ben and soon, for Lisa, too.

“When [Ben] came to the Accepted Students Reception, and he sat down with John, he said, ‘They have the support systems here that I need to be successful.’ And obviously there are because he graduated magna cum laude,” Lisa proudly shared. 

As a student with disabilities, Ben required individualized help for his specific needs, and the Academic Success Center was there to guide him. He utilized extra test-taking time in the Testing Center and sought the help of an academic coach. The Academic Success Center coordinated with the the Music department, which took great care in pairing Ben with an appropriate advisor. Lisa also noted that although Ben ultimately opted to commute, the Center had matched him with a roommate.

“These are steps above and beyond that Rowan does. What I have seen here through the Academic Success Center has just been outstanding,” she said.  

Lisa is a featured speaker for the Academic Success Center’s College Prep Transition Conference and a parent network member with Rowan’s Autism PATH program, which aims to strengthen employment outcomes and networking opportunities for neurodiverse students. 

Lisa and Ben Wilner, both Rowan alumni, at their home
Ben Wilner ’18 (left) and Lisa Ann Wilner at home. Ben is pursuing his master’s degree at the College of Education. Lisa speaks at parents’ groups and conferences for Rowan’s Academic Success Center.

“What I’ve seen [at Rowan] in the last four years, as a parent who sat through IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings for 14 years … I have never seen services like exist here. They may exist at other places, but it’s done right here. I talk to parents’ groups. Ben talks to high school students for New Jersey’s Dare to Dream conferences every year. He talks to students and says ‘You can go to college, this is the route to get there.’”

Lisa shared that, through his own academic advisor experience, Ben enrolled in the Higher Education advising track program so he could help fellow students down the road. In addition to his coursework, he’s now working as a part-time academic advisor at an area community college. She said there is “no doubt in [her] mind” Ben will find employment after earning his graduate degree this spring. Lisa also hopes Ben will eventually complete his doctorate in music theory after his successful undergraduate work in Rowan’s “incredible” music program.

“Rowan’s growth and support of all students make me incredibly proud to be an [alumna],” she said.

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