Some families pass down recipes, holiday traditions, or photo albums. Others pass down their alma mater. Many families at Hillsdale have seen two, three, or even four generations walk its halls.
Sophomore Megan Mayernik is a second-generation student studying math. Her mother, Linda Mayernik, graduated in 1993 with a degree in biology and a minor in Christian Studies.
“She did it in three years, actually,” Mayernik said. “It was just easier financially and she came in with enough credits.”
After graduation, she had a research position at Wayne State University and got a masters in cell biology at the same institution.
“She worked there for six or seven years as a laboratory manager and microscopy core faculty,” Mayernik said. “She became a stay at home mom when she had me at 29 but then went back to that job after 12 years and has been there ever since.”
Legacies are sometimes hesitant to attend the same school as their parent, and Mayernik is no exception.
“Initially I wanted to come here less because everybody expected me to come here,” Mayernik said. “But then I realized I wanted to go to a smaller school and stay closer to home, and there were only a couple of schools in Michigan that fit that bill.”
Her mother was able to give her some instrumental advice about Hillsdale.
“She lived in Olds when she was here. She told me not to live in Olds.”
Senior Madi Vandegrift is a second-generation student after her father Mark Vandegrift ’92.
“He was a double major in accounting and German, just like I am,” Vandegrift said. “I used to work at the library and he did too.”
In fact, both of them worked under Linda Moore at the library. During his Hillsdale years, the elder Vandegrift was also a Simpson RA and helped bring the Phi Mu Alpha music honorary back to campus.
Despite their similar paths, Vandegrift’s journey in deciding to come to Hillsdale was tricky.
“I wasn’t really thinking about coming to Hillsdale,” Vandegrift said. “I toured a similar university and I hated it five minutes in, so my dad said I wouldn’t like Hillsdale. But I hate when people tell me that. So I had him take me for a tour, and the minute I walked on campus I knew I wanted to spend my next four years here.”
Vandegrift loved the tight knit community she witnessed. She sat in on a German class taught by Eberhard Geyer, a former German professor at Hillsdale.
“He immediately remembered my dad and they talked for about five minutes,” Vandegrift said. “I knew that was what I wanted in a college.”
Vandegrift said her dad has shared some stories of his fond college memories.
“He was super close with his dorm mom in Simpson,” Vandegrift said. “He would watch the Ohio State football games and play euchre or cards with her.”
Other than that, Vandegrift said her dad does not often share very many other stories with her.
“It’s only when friends of mine from Hillsdale come home with me that he starts to share.”
Senior Andrew Shaffer is a legacy on both sides of his family tree. His mother and father, Joan ’96 and Stephen Schaffer ’97, met at Hillsdale and, in classic Hillsdale fashion, got married in the summer of 1996.
Shaffer said being a legacy did not necessarily affect his decision to come to Hillsdale.
“I grew up knowing about Hillsdale, and I knew my parents liked the education, my mom especially,” Shaffer said. “As I grew older and as I grew further along in my education, I started to appreciate it.”
Shaffer’s parents have noted the differences between the way Hillsdale is now compared to when they were here.
“Back when they were here, Hillsdale was a good education, but administratively it was a lot different,” Shaffer said. “The college didn’t have as wide of a reach as it does now and it wasn’t as politically active. But a lot of the same core educational values remain the same.”
Some of the consistency has to do with the professors that have remained at Hillsdale. Shaffer and his mother both took classes with Professor of English David Whalen.
“As an English major, my mom had him a few times and loved him. She actually credits him with helping save her faith,” Shaffer said.
He had his own meaningful experiences with Whalen when he took Continental Literature a few years back.
“One of the pieces of advice I took from that class is that the world is filled with folly, so if you can learn to appreciate folly in the world, life will be a joy to you.”
Some families have made attendance at Hillsdale something of a tradition. Freshman Anna Julia Bassols is a fourth generation Hillsdale student. Bassols’ great grandmother Mary Wolf Inman started the tradition, graduating in 1932. More recently, her father David Bassols ’94 attended Hillsdale, graduating with an economics degree. Bassols’ father never pressured her into attending Hillsdale, though she says he did have a clear bias for it. She was not interested until she started interacting with the school herself.
“One night, I was looking online for study abroad programs for high schoolers. I don’t know why they came up, but I found the Hillsdale Summer Study programs,” Bassols said. “I applied and got accepted, and once I was on the trip I fell in love with the college.”
Bassols attended the Western Civilization: Visions from Italy program and studied under Joseph Garnjobst, a professor of classical studies.
“He totally changed the way I view education,” Bassols said.
Like many legacies, Bassols said she was nervous to come to Hillsdale with her family’s reputations behind her.
“I didn’t think I was this exceptional student that all Hillsdale students had to be,” Bassols said.
Bassols has found her place at Hillsdale, however. She even has some connections to the faculty that her father was acquainted with.
“My dad never took Spanish classes, being a Spanish citizen and already speaking the language,” Bassols said. “But he did work in the Spanish department for a little bit, and the year that he started, Professor Teegarden did too, and now I am taking him for Spanish.”
Even more steeped in the Hillsdale legacy is sophomore Charlie Andrews. Not only did both of his parents study and meet at Hillsdale, graduating in 1991, but all five of his older siblings attended as well. Most of them even share a favored area of study: English.
“My dad was a double major in political economy and Christian studies and my mom was English and Christian studies. All but one of my siblings are English as well,” Andrews said.
Andrews is continuing the line of English majors in his family. As such, he has studied under many of the same professors as his family members, particularly Professors of English David Whalen and Dwight Lindley. He shared a story about Lindley that one of his siblings experienced.
“My brother Aaron and his wife were at some senior party with the faculty. Professor Lindley was really tired, and my brother and my sister-in-law actually gave him a ride home,” Andrews said. “It was one of the funniest stories he told me.”
Being the youngest Hillsdale student in his family presents challenges..
“It can be intimidating if you let it,” Andrews said. “My siblings are some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever come across, and they credit that to Hillsdale.”
Andrews said Hillsdale is just another thing that brings their family together.
“We all have a shared interest in people, and that’s what led most of us to English,” Andrews said. “It created a culture of interest in the other. When you grow up like that, you learn how to love people.”