Landmark Internship: Walles, '15, Helps Bring Back the Bohm

Ford student plays key role in Albion theatre reopening, with support from Class of ’60

 

October 16, 2014 | By Jake Weber

Andrea Walles, '15
Andrea Walles stands in the balcony of the Bohm Theatre in downtown Albion days before its reopening. “It’s been an incredible experience working with the different community members,” she says. “It’s taught me how tight-knit the community is and how many people want both the town and the College to succeed.”

Internships usually give students knowledge and new skills; some lead to permanent employment. For Andrea Walles, ’15, her experience went even further: she landed a seat on the board of directors.

“I’ve been appointed to a three-year term, even though I’m graduating in a year,” says Walles, who spent a semester this past spring working with Albion’s Friends of the Bohm Theatre.

The internship, offered through the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service, was made possible by the Class of 1960 Albion Community Intern Endowment. The internship’s focus on the City of Albion was especially attractive to Walles. “I wanted to have a way to impact the community,” she said. “The Bohm Theatre internship sounded really great.

“I was able to see the Bohm before any major restorations were made in January, and it is incredible to see the difference nine months later,” she continued. “The renovations are absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to see what the Albion community thinks about it.”

She’ll begin to find out starting tonight, October 16, as the historic theatre, closed since 2008, reopens with a 6:30 ribbon-cutting and marquee-lighting ceremony. (The reopening also means the renewal of Union Board's movie program that enables students to attend films at the Bohm at no additional cost; the program coincides with a similar arrangement with the Bogar Theatre in Marshall.)

Walles’ work toward the renovation and reopening of Albion’s 85-year-old downtown landmark was on the “back side,” involving marketing as well as research, both on campus and in the community. Walles designed a survey and gathered more than 400 responses from community members and College students, gaining insight for programming at the theatre.

She also researched and helped write policies dealing with everything from facility rental to alcohol service. “We didn’t want to have draft beer, but we also didn’t want people taking bottles into the auditorium,” she said. “My suggestion was to pour bottles into cups as people ordered them.” A contractor built a bottle chute into the bar, incorporating Walles’ suggestion.

Walles also found that much of what she learned in a small Midwestern town applied to her summer internship at a boutique hotel in the heart of Philadelphia. “At the Morris House Hotel, I was asked to price out the cost of an expansion and see whether the increased revenue was worth the investment,” she said. “From working with the Bohm, I knew about adding in things like costs for permits and contractor overruns. I was able to provide a more realistic estimate because I had gone through a building experience.”

And while she valued the Bohm internship as a skills-development experience, Walles’ big takeaway was the feeling of community that made the work truly worth doing. “I’ve seen how much interfacing has gone on between the city and the College, with contractors and with the gung-ho people you need to make it work,” she said. “It’s been an incredible experience working with the different community members. It’s taught me how tight-knit the community is and how many people want both the town and the College to succeed.”

Andrea Walles, '15, is majoring in economics and management and minoring in political science, with concentrations in the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service and the Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management. She is also a member of the Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program and a graduate of The Woodlands High School, The Woodlands, Texas.

Watch the video of Andrea's experience

October 17: Ribbon-cutting, marquee-lighting coverage on MLive.com