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Leaving a Legacy

The Williams Courtyard will be renovated into an outdoor wellness space for NC State students.

One of the best ways for college students to take care of their mental health, unwind, relax and reset is to spend some time outside, connecting with nature and enjoying some fresh air. 

NC State’s 2024 graduating senior class is making the ability to do just that their lasting legacy for the Wolfpack community – the class is giving the university its first senior gift in the last several years by renovating the Williams Courtyard outside Williams Hall near the Free Expression Tunnel into an outdoor wellness space. 

It was just something that I felt it was important for our class to do.

Catherine Carter, who graduated from NC State in May with a degree in Political Science and spent last year as Student Government’s student body director of athletics, led the project alongside Natalie Young, a fellow graduating senior in student government. 

“It was just something that I felt it was important for our class to do,” Carter said.

Carter explained that she and her fellow project coordinators brainstormed alongside Communication Strategist Tim Peeler and retired vice chancellor Tom Stafford, as well as conducted internal polling and sent out a survey to all graduating students in the class of 2024. 

The students decided that a mental health resource was the best choice for an impactful gift. The courtyard will be renovated this summer to add greenery around the sides to give it more of a natural space feel, as well as a bird bath and additional seating and tables. 

“It can be the spot on campus where if you’re having a hard day or going through something, that’s a space you can go to sit in nature,” Carter said. 

The courtyard’s renovations will be finished by the start of the 2024 Fall semester in August, and students will then be able to use the space as another resource for their mental health. 

“We really wanted to leave a legacy for students to get to have what we maybe didn’t get to have,” Carter said. “To know that it’s going to be done immediately and ready for students starting in the fall is really special for us. We’re excited about it. It’s unfortunate that it’s not going to be something that we get to utilize, but we wanted to leave it for a future generation.”

Carter explained that mental health is of particular importance to the class of 2024, which did not get to experience a normal first year of college due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The mental health challenges and tragic student deaths over the past few years also highlighted the need for additional mental health resources on campus.

“The aim was to try to make something good out of something that was really hard for us,” Carter said. 

The project cost was $25,000, part of which was raised by the class of 2024 students and parents. When the fundraising goal fell a bit short, Carter and her fellow students initially thought they would scale back the project. 

However, the university agreed to provide the additional funding, making the Williams Courtyard renovation part of its master plan, recognizing its importance as a resource for students.

The courtyard will feature a “Class of 2024” plaque, giving this group of graduating students a physical, permanent legacy of this important new mental health resource. 

“I just hope it’s helpful for students going forward,” Carter said. “I think this is an area where there’s a lot of need, and so to be able to potentially help people even in a small way is something that we’re really excited about. I’m really appreciative to the university for prioritizing and recognizing this.”

This post was originally published in DASA.