By Shay Carroll
With its over 100-year history and celebrated reputation, it’s not unusual for multiple generations of the same family to seek out the teacher education programs in BGSU’s College of Education and Human Development. What’s less common, though, is for three cousins to be enrolled in the same program at the same time.
"To my knowledge, this is a first for the inclusive early childhood (IEC) education program," said program coordinator and senior lecturer Kimberly Christensen, who is excited to have three cousins all working toward their IEC degrees.
Cole Alexender and his maternal cousin Kalista Thain and paternal cousin Lauren Alexander are equally excited to be completing their major together.
Cole was extremely close with each of his cousin’s growing up. As children, Kalista and Cole went to the same school and lived only three miles apart from each other in Gilboa, Ohio, for most of their life. Cole and Lauren were born only one day apart and were "best buds" since birth, Lauren said.
Lauren originally came to BGSU as a public relations major, but then switched during the second semester of her freshman year. She and Cole are currently both in their second year at BGSU and in the IEC program, while Kalista is a freshman.
Kalista said that she was heavily influenced by her cousin Cole.
"Before coming to BGSU, I was nervous, and he helped me by telling me how the program works and what classes he could recommend," Kalista said.
Cole also said that his family definitely helped influence him, although he admits that Kalista’s older brother Kyle, who had recently graduated from Bluffton University, had the most impact on his chosen major.
"Seeing what he was able to do as an educator made me realize how important it is for children to have a good teacher and role models," Cole explained, "And I knew the IEC program here at BGSU would prepare me to be that kind of teacher and role model."
All three cousins agree that they selected BGSU for its education program, and specifically its IEC program. The teacher education programs at BGSU are unique in that students are able to do field placements as early as their freshman year. For Cole in particular, this affirmed his interest in teaching early in his studies.
"As a teacher, it tends to be common knowledge that it will be difficult to find a job after graduation," Lauren explained. "But with the IEC degree, you can become more marketable to future employers. The program will give all three of us valuable experience to help us obtain a job after college."
The dual-certification program in particular was an appeal for all the cousins. Additionally, they enjoyed the challenge the education program offered, as well as BGSU’s proximity to home.
Although Lauren only decided to enter the IEC program at the beginning of the Spring 2017, Kalista has known for most of her life that teaching is all she has wanted to do, and Cole realized teaching was what he wished to pursue after job shadowing in high school.
"I’m not surprised we all ended up choosing the same degree," Lauren said. "As a family, we have a lot of the same beliefs and interests, so entering the same program without any collective conversation about it beforehand isn’t as shocking as one might think!"