Three generations of students from the same family are attending Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis...
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Most of the time, you make lasting connections with mentors and friends, it creates a familial atmosphere.

This year, it’s the literal truth. At least two families have multiple generations of students enrolled in the College at the same time. When grandparents are involved, it’s especially rare.

Mia Carter ?27, Amy Malczewski ?24, Christy Schwan ?24, and Samantha Malczewski ?26. Mia Carter ’27, Amy Malczewski ’24, Christy Schwan ’24, and Samantha Malczewski ’26. Mia Carter ’27 entered Carthage in Fall 2023 as a traditional freshman at the same time her mom and grandmother, Amy Malczewski and Christy Schwan, enrolled in a 10-month master’s degree program. And Mia has a familiar roommate: sister Samantha Malczewski ’26, who arrived a year earlier.

“This family reminds us of the power of lifelong learning,” says Ashley Hanson, vice president for enrollment. “They epitomize our Firebird spirit!”

Mia is pursuing majors in accounting and marketing, while Samantha studies nursing. Meanwhile, their elders are taking graduate coursework together in business design and innovation, which introduces creative approaches to solve complex problems.

Professor Carter Rockhill, who directs Carthage’s graduate business programs, raves about the positive, infectious energy Amy and Christy have brought to the classes.

“It’s evident that their maturity, experience working with and directing teams, and professional interaction have been very meaningful for helping foster high-performing teams,” says Prof. Rockhill. “Theirs are the most creative, proactive, and high-energy teams in the capstone project.”

After her grandmother died, Amy resolved to spend more time with her own grieving mom. And Christy agreed the timing was right for both of them to take the next step in their educational journey. Christy, a retired corporate leader and small business owner, has also published several books. As a volunteer for local nonprofits, she’s eager to learn innovative strategies to put to use.

“Leaving my comfort zone got me where I am today,” Christy points out. “Age is no deterrent in education. Older students bring a valuable perspective to class discussions.”

There was really no question which school they’d pick. Amy is literally Carthage’s biggest cheerleader. Along with her full-time position in the Aspire Center for career development, she has directed the Spirit Team since 2001.

The four Carthaginians love having the option to reconnect so conveniently.

“It’s nice that we can walk them to class, meet for a study session, or just meet in the cafeteria for meals,” Mia says. “I really love having that touch of home right here on campus.”

Same place, different interests

For a while, it seemed iffy that Laticia Crenshaw, M.Ed. ’21, could even have children. Now, she’s got two grown daughters, Ayanna ’23 and Aryanna ’26, and the three Racine women simultaneously attend Carthage.

A 10-year staff member at 21st Century Preparatory School, Laticia originally started in the College’s Accelerated Certification for Teachers (ACT) program four years ago when her employer offered to pay for coursework leading to a reading license. She was nervous about going back to school — imagining a technological learning curve — but that faded quickly.

With the license in hand, Laticia stood just three classes away from a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction. Three years after securing that degree, she’s closing in on a second M.Ed. concentration, this one in special education.

Separated by a single letter, her daughters’ first names hold religious and cultural significance. In Swahili, Ayanna translates to “beautiful flower of faith” and Aryanna means “holy faith.”

The older sister, Ayanna, originally planned to go to an HBCU (historically black college or university). Those skew slightly larger, however, and the intimate feel of the Carthage community ultimately won out. Ayanna completed her marketing degree requirements in December but will join her mom for the formal Commencement procession in May 2024. She’ll stick around to join the College’s graduate program in sports management next fall.

Aryanna arrived a couple of years later but wasted no time getting involved, founding the Carthage Majorettes dance team (adapting an HBCU tradition) as a freshman. Potentially following her mother’s path, she recently switched her major to elementary education.

Historical mom-daughter combos

While it’s a banner year for family learning, this is far from a new phenomenon. You’ll find many previous examples spanning decades and multiple campuses.

For most of her career, a two-year education degree that she earned in the 1930s sufficed for the late Sarah Rhine ’64. But changing state requirements prompted the kindergarten teacher to look for a place to complete a bachelor’s. Carthage, then located in western Illinois, was the closest. So, two evenings a week, she made the 30-mile trek to take the necessary classes.

Her daughter, LaRue (Rhine) Unglaube ’64, was enrolled as a traditional student at the same time. The definition of two ships passing in the night, they rarely had occasion to cross paths on Evergreen Walk. No matter; they sat side-by-side for the most important day. Mom and daughter graduated together as part of the final Commencement on the Carthage, Illinois, campus.

Decades later (and a few hundred miles to the northeast), Carol Donahue ’00 needed an accounting degree to prolong her managerial career at Jockey International. At age 47, she signed up for the College’s accelerated learning program.

That inspired her daughter, Ginger (Donahue) Hainer ’00, who had taken a few college classes here and there but hadn’t yet followed through.

“I thought, ‘If my mom can do it at her age, I can do it too,’” she recalls. “If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I ever would’ve gone back to school.”

With her mother off to a head start, Ms. Hainer resolved to catch up so they could take the ceremonial stage walk together. Speeding up an already accelerated format, she took extra classes … and finished in two years. They posed for a memorable class photo by Kissing Rock.

“That’s seared in my heart,” says Ms. Hainer, “just seeing her face that day.”

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