Legacy students a part of lasting tradition

Legacy students (left to right) John Rowles, John O’Brien, Catherine Thornton, Monica Thornton, Tess Stirton, and Kevin Thornton are all related to one another. Photo by Marquel Plavan.

I was destined to attend the University of Dallas the second I left the womb. My parents are alumni circa 1994, and my grandmother received her master’s degree in theology in 1988. To top it all off, I was raised in Irving. And did I mention that my parents were married in the Church of the Incarnation? Yeah. UD child from the cradle.

I did look at other schools, only to realize they just were not the same as what I knew so well. I showed interest in the Naval Academy, and I even went all the way to Wyoming Catholic out in the middle of nowhere in my exploration of different options. Nothing swayed my ingrained leaning toward UD, and here I am. But, hey! I tried. I can now admit that I was not (completely) biased at the time. And I must admit, I am here for the better.

My case is not the general rule for legacy families. Statistically speaking, over  generations, families usually split attendance. Some kids go to the same university as mom or dad, while others don’t. Just because one sibling goes doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else follows suit.

However, there are many cases like mine where that is, in fact, the case.  

Emily Johnson, who is also a third generation senior, said: “My grandfather got his undergrad in biology here in 1972, and both my parents are also alumni circa 1994. My mom’s parents were married in the old chapel and my parents were married in the Church of the Incarnation as well.  Though I did try to go to UTD — heresy, I know — for a Speech-Pathology/Audiology degree, I ended up here instead. Maybe it’s because I grew up hearing about Aristotle and Plato, or maybe it’s because I have a picture of me and my sister when we were little in front of the Tower that my dad entitled: ‘The Girls at Their Future School’. Yeah … I was doomed, too. In a good way. It was just natural.”

UD does have a large number of second or third generation students attending the university. This is probably because UD inspires a strong love for classical education that alumni parents pass down to their children by educating them classically from a young age. And when their children go looking for a college to attend, they inevitably look to the UD for the completion of that education.

This is the most likely reason that the school has seemingly so many second or third generation students. Of course, you also have to factor in that quite a few alumni stay in the area, as mine did. Therefore, it’s really simple for their children to follow suit and go to UD.

Another factor to keep in mind is that there is a declining number of Catholic universities. Just last week, St. Gregory’s University in Oklahoma announced that it’s closing. This is not the first Catholic college to close recently, thus causing an increase in attention to UD. And with a large majority of UD grads being Catholic, this adds to the number of multi-generational students attending the university.

While the university will not exponentially grow in size due to legacy families, they do help contribute to the legacy of the university itself. The stories of bygone days of UD in the early ’90s still resonate very soundly in my mind, and I pray that those stories do not die with me. I know that this school will be proud to accept future generations of my family, and I know that my family will always be proud to be a UD family.


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