Long-time Victoria College tutor makes campus home
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Who is Betty East? Age: 63
Title: Tutor coordinator for Victoria College
Place of birth: Abilene
Years tutoring: 19
Betty East, a 63-year-old tutoring coordinator at Victoria College, broods over a literature paper scrawled full of corrections.
East's eyes crinkled into a smile as she worked with 22-year-old Jaime Guerrero on his assignment.
"Why don't we just throw that out," he said, scanning a block of text.
"Oh no, it's beautiful," East said, like a gentle, admonishing mother. "You don't want to throw that out."
East began tutoring at VC in 1991 when she was a young mother returning to school, but she shortly after had a change of heart.
"I realized I'd be 106 if I followed through," she said. "The rest is history."
But the motherly graces never left.
A tray of half-eaten brownies sit in her office as East, dressed in a pastel sweater and laced collar, watches students from behind her rimmed glasses.
"Just a pan of brownies or a cookie - you'd be surprised what a difference that can make," she said.
East baked the brownies before work, like she often does before touching English papers. She considers both simply "student services."
"We have the very special place of meeting their needs whether it's going over their paper or giving them a sloppy Joe," she said.
It's all a part of the campus goal, she says, to make the campus more like home.
"She'll feed you, take care of you," Guerrero said. Guerrero has visited the center more than 70 times this semester and calls East inspiring.
"She can make anybody believe that they're doing really great," he said. "That's a rare trait."
East believes her motherly ways even appeal to students.
"I can kind of say 'sit back down,'" she said, laughing. "You're not going anywhere until you get that paper finished. That's my style. The mother in me, I guess too."
East oversees 29 tutors and also works with Paul Janda, assistant tutoring coordinator, who is establishing tutoring centers in two of VC's new facilities.
"She is the main reason for what the tutoring program is today - a vibrant, energetic entity focused on student success," he said. "Students know that they can recieve the assistance they need from qualified, caring individuals thanks to Mrs. East."
By the end of the day, East has fed her students, edited and laughed. East never did earn a college degree when she went back to college, but after 19 years she has no thoughts of quitting school anytime soon.
"Unless they kick me out," she said, smiling. "I just love it. It's perfect for me."