Family legacies continue on the Hill
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With family homecoming weekend steadily approaching, many parents will be traveling up to the Hill to visit their sons and daughters. For some of these parents, this weekend will be one of many visits that bring back fond memories from when they themselves attended the College.
According to the Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center, 107 students currently enrolled at the College share their alma mater with either one or both of their parents. Though much has changed at the College over the span of a generation, there are still connections that can be made between current students and their parents.
“My mom is always really excited to visit Colby,” Colleen O’Donnell ’13 said. Her mother, Joanne O’Donnell (née Shannon), was part of the graduating class of 1980 and comes up from Boston, Mass. to visit Colleen often. “Whenever she visits me, she’ll sometimes give me a tour of the College, showing me all the buildings she remembers from when she went here. I think she sometimes forgets that I’ve gone here for over two years and I already know the campus,” Colleen said.
Joanne O’Donnell received her degree in administrative science back when it was still offered at Colby. She was the class treasurer her senior year, and ever since her graduation has worked for various banks around the country, including her current position at Bank of America. Colleen, an economics major herself, says that while this branch of education was her choice, her mother set a course for her in a way—a template for what life could be like beyond college.
For Callie Wade ’13, both parents attended the College. Paul and Kathy Wade (née McCulloch), who currently reside in Seattle, Wash., were also members of the Class of 1980, and met each other during their time on the Hill. Paul was a marine biology major who went on to earn his Ph.D., and currently works as a marine biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Kathy was an English and government major who now works in investment banking selling bonds. At Colby, she also worked for the Echo as a typesetter, a necessary position before the prevalence of personal computers.
“My dad visits occasionally to see me and to watch Colby soccer games sometimes,” Callie explained. During his senior year, Paul Wade played on the varsity soccer team the year they won the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship. “He still knows the layout of the campus, but there have still been so many changes over the years. Both my parents still recognize a few of the professors here, too.”
One of the most obvious changes that has occurred between the previous generation and now is the abolition of Greek Life on campus.
Fraternities and sororities were eliminated in 1984, and many parents are familiar with the experience and are surprised whenever they visit Roberts Row, known colloquially as Frat Row, reminiscing about how different it was 30 years ago.
Joanne O’Donnell was part of the Sigma-Kappa sorority during her time at Colby. Colleen commented on how her mother will often recall memories from the old fraternity and sorority buildings whenever she visits campus.
Both of Callie’s parents were part of Greek communities as well. “My dad’s frat was in Piper when he was at Colby,” she said. “He’s come back to visit it a couple of times, but the layout of the building has changed so much over the years—especially since they renovated it a few years ago.” Wade said that her father was baffled by how much more space the rooms had. Since there was no more need for the usual amenities of a fraternity (living room, library, etc.), all of the rooms were greatly expanded.
Colleen said that her mother’s choice of college was definitely a factor in choosing her own schools to apply to. “My mom had taken me to visit Colby a lot when I was younger, and the experience instilled in me an attraction to the atmosphere of NESCAC schools.” Colleen had actually applied early decision to Bowdoin, but after she was placed on the waitlist, Colby jumped to the top of her list. “My mom supported me either way,” she said.
For Callie, legacy did not influence her college search. “My parents were never really obsessed about sending me to Colby. I was never pushed toward it,” she said. She applied to Colby nonetheless, and Colby was the best school to which she was accepted. “Both my parents were incredibly happy [with] my choice.”