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Mary Wolf Inman grad­uated Hillsdale College in 1932.
Courtesy | Anna Julia Bassols

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.”