Following In My Dad's Footsteps
by Christina Gee, EMU Freshman, Published March 11, 2014
Thirty years: The space between a graduating computer science major and an incoming theatre major; the space between the end of my father's career at Eastern Michigan University, and the beginning of mine. So many things have changed, both from my life in high school to this new college experience, and from his EMU days to the EMU he sees when he comes to visit me. There is an obvious atmospheric difference just by the way he reacts. He likes to tell me about how different the campus was when he came here, or more accurately, how much better it is now. Since his time, the campus has come a long way. It's become larger and much nicer. The "lake with benches and trees," University Park as we call it, was just one such improvement. There are more buildings, including one entirely dedicated to the College of Business. In my dad's day, the COB was, for the most part, located in Pray Harold. However, if you asked him to identify Pray Harold the first time he came back and without any signage, it would have gotten a little tricky. In my dad's own words, "Pray Harold is practically unrecognizable, it's so much nicer."
But beyond that even are the technological advances that have been made at Eastern. The classrooms have shifted from using the chalkboards and overhead projectors of his day to being much more comfortable with modern learning devices. Every classroom has a smart board or video projection system, and there is a wireless internet connection everywhere you go. The internet wasn't even a thing when my dad went to Eastern (there was Arpanet, but that was federally restricted and highly illegal to hack into.) No one carried around laptops, cell phones, iPads, etc. Now, however, I can testify for a fact, that not only is such technology allowed, it is even an integral part of some classes, such as my Children's Lit class last semester or my Producing class now.
As I tell my dad about my experiences at Eastern, he notes that there are many more and improved student services as well. In particular, he admires the beautiful new student center. He is also happy that Eastern now has an escort service to walk students between places at night and emergency phone stations around the campus. He likes to know that his daughter is safe.
Despite my dad going to Eastern for computers and business and myself for theatre and art, EMU still holds one thing true for both: quality. My dad chose Eastern because it had an excellent and more modern computer program. I chose it because the theatre program is outstanding and very up-to-date in its techniques and practices. Even though we chose to attend for different studies, there is still a feeling of identity and oneness to say that we are both EMU Eagles (even though technically he was a Huron.) And, he still understands the dynamics of a college environment. If I'm having trouble adjusting, or dealing with a class, he sends me advice on how to handle it. He knows the ins and outs of the campus and he's always there if I need a perspective check.
As I said before, my life changed drastically from high school to college. It practically flipped 180 degrees. Everything was new. Everything was different. I had no friends going in. I was terrified. I felt so out of my depth that I was on the verge of completely shutting down. But that's where my dad came in. To put it concisely, he helped me get through the various changes that college brought because he knew how college worked. He knew how EMU worked.
However much I may love the program at EMU, my friends, professors, roommates, etc., most of all I love being part of a family tradition. It makes me happy to know that I can carry on the legacy of my father, a man who I respect and love greatly and look up to every day. When I was a kid I wanted to be like him in a lot of ways. I guess, at least, I got part of that wish.