A Falcon Legacy

Student follows in the path of her great-grandmother

By Lindsay Laurent

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If you visit Mount Blanchard, Ohio, and mention the name Lucille Burrell to anyone in town, there is a good chance he or she was taught by this longtime educator. In the 1930s Burrell headed to Bowling Green to earn a teaching certificate from the Normal College. A trailblazer in her day, Burrell earned her degree at a time when most women managed households instead of heading to college.

Upon completion of her degree, she returned to her hometown to start her career as a public school teacher. Burrell spent 30 years as an educator with the Mount Blanchard school system before her retirement in 1972.

Today, you will find Burrell’s great-granddaughter forging her own path of success on the same campus.                         

Meg Burrell is a sophomore from Bluffton, Ohio, with a double major in political science and criminal justice. She is a scholar in the Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy (PLA), the undergraduate student representative to the Board of Trustees, a member of BGSU’s mock trial team, and the director of scholarship for Alpha Phi Sorority.

“BGSU was my first college visit,” Burrell said. Even though her great-grandmother attended the University, they never had the opportunity to visit the campus together.

“I went on 15 other college visits, but I found myself comparing every other campus to BG. Then, when my PLA acceptance letter arrived I knew I had made my choice. I was going to be a Falcon.”

The President’s Leadership Academy allowed Burrell to immediately connect with a group of students and faculty that opened her eyes to different experiences and ways of life. The senior Burrell stressed these same values of inquisitiveness and acceptance with her students and her family.

Burrell attributes her own success to strong family support. Her love of service and learning started with her great-grandmother’s passion for these topics and the younger Burrell learned from her parents the benefits of serving others and the value of education.

“During my first semester in PLA, our cohort planned a service project for families from the Toledo Family House,” said Burrell. “We spent all day working at Cedar Point to raise money to put on a fall harvest day. We gave away books, decorated cookies and spent time playing with the kids.” Burrell describes this day as the most rewarding of her college experience thus far and ranks this above her many academic and personal achievements.

During a Board of Trustees function in spring 2015, Burrell mentioned to Dr. Brad Colwell, dean of the College of Education and Human Development that her great-grandmother might be the oldest living graduate from the college. Colwell was intrigued and began searching for records to confirm this statement. Due to the lack of record keeping at that time, it is difficult to confirm, but at 106-years-old, it is safe to say Burrell was one of the oldest living graduates.

“My grandma loved winning the ‘oldest person’ awards,” said her great-granddaughter. “She held the title for about 20 years at her church and nursing home. It was something she was proud of.”

Prior to the interview for this story, Lucille Burrell passed away, surrounded by her family.

“We were happy for her passing because now she gets to be with the people she loves,” Meg said. “My great-grandmother outlived most of her family and was ready to be with them again.”

Now that Meg is left to carry on the Falcon legacy she realizes she has some big shoes to fill.

“My grandma was beloved by all her students, was strong-willed and had an affinity for travel and went to 48 of the 50 states after her retirement,” she said. “I remember her reaction when I told her I had been accepted into BGSU. She got so excited and started telling me about her experiences.”

This moment is one that Burrell will always cherish with her great-grandmother.  Other favorite memories include her grandmother’s craving for cheeseburgers (she ate one every day for lunch), the constant smell of popcorn from her room, and the way she recited Twas the Night Before Christmas while the family drove around looking at lights.

The younger Burrell plans to attend law school following graduation where she plans to study criminal law or educational law to continue her great-grandmother’s legacy of service and education.