You Get Back What You Give
It’s often noted that once you are part of the College of Design community, you are forever a part of a tightly woven family, a family of designers that spans generations, professions, continents, and limitless passion. It’s living a Designlife.
After receiving her undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University, Kimberly Wicker [MLAR ’97] enrolled in the Master’s of Landscape Architecture at the College of Design. She has since continued her connections and relationships with the College and local design community in a myriad of capacities, including as past Chair of the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board, and a past member of the Wake County Planning Board. In 2005, she opened her own design firm, Coaly Design. She is truly living a Designlife.
Wicker has served as an adjunct professor at the College, is an annual contributor to the Designlife Fund, serves on the Designlife Board, has mentored students and sponsored students to participate in College events, and hires students to work in her practice. Wicker’s support is a natural extension of who she is and an integral part of her life. She doesn’t need a reason to give—“You get back what you give. No matter what it is. I feel like I have a lot to give, and even if I’m not directly getting back, in some ways the universe gives you back what you give. Even if it’s an hour or $100 or $25 dollars—it’s not about the amount, it’s about the purpose.”
She is the only member of her family to have attended college. While higher education wasn’t a concern in her family, her appreciation for the opportunities it offered her runs deep. “I always had this desire to see and do more. I think it’s the passion—it’s ingrained in [me], a saturation that [I] feel here [at the College]. Being the one that went to college in my family has helped me appreciate everything as well.”
As a result, Wicker says, “When I was 22, I was on the Wake County Planning Board, and I had a certain set of skills that I could offer. I may not have been 45 with a lot of experience; however, time and participation are important.” She continues: “The passion and fun that I have, what I do, the lifestyle it affords me—it is something that I can give and provide.”
Wicker’s family did instill in her the importance of volunteering and community relationships. “I had great influences in my family—my grandfather was a township supervisor of 20 years. As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, and I remember him and his time with the people.”
“Volunteering and giving back—whether it’s monetary or of my time—it goes back to appreciation, feeling that even if it’s a small impact that I am making on a student, I’m honored,” states Wicker.
The Research Triangle is a hotbed of technology, innovation, and influential designers, many of whom are alumni of NC State University and the College of Design. Wicker reflects on the benefits of staying connected. “In the working world, in this area specifically, we have a high concentration of excellent professionals—a wide variety of design and everything in-between. I worked for ColeJenest & Stone, for Michael [Michael S. Cole, Sr., FASLA and Founding Partner Emeritus], and for Chuck [Charles A. Flink, FASLA, Alta Planning and Design]. I kept up with the community. It was inside of me—it just kept blooming,” she says emphatically. Wicker, Cole, and Flink are influential in the design community and are valued supporters of the College. Most recently, Wicker was appointed to the NC State University Board of Visitor’s that once again, highlights her commitment and passion of giving back.