MARYLHURST — For the past two years, Adam Webber got no sympathy from his parents about the demands of college and the mounds of reading and writing required of him. That’s because Mom and Dad were in college, too – and sometimes even in the same class as their son.
Adam and his mother, Amy Webber, will complete their bachelor’s degrees in English literature and writing at Marylhurst University this month. Adam's dad, Mark Webber, isn’t far behind; he’s scheduled to complete his communications bachelor’s degree in December.
Adam and Amy are among more than 540 bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates who will be honored at Marylhurst’s 119th commencement, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, June 15 at the Oregon Convention Center. Amy will be one of three graduates speaking during the commencement ceremony.
While it’s unusual to have an entire family working on college degrees at the same time, Marylhurst might just be the place. Most students are adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s returning to school and focused on completing unfinished educational business. In the past few years, Marylhurst has made a point of bringing forward its Catholic, family-friendly identity.
“Amy, Adam and Mark are emblematic of all of the students we serve here at Marylhurst," says Judi Johansen, Marylhurst president. "They each come for a unique reason, and our responsibility and privilege is to help all of them take that next step forward in their education to make their lives more fulfilling and our communities better places.”
For the Webber family of Vancouver, Wash., the rush to college started with Amy, 50, a reading assistant at Tukes Primary Elementary School in Battle Ground. She decided to return to school in 2010 after her youngest child, Adele, earned her bachelor’s degree. Out of college for 17 years, Amy earned more than 30 credits through Marylhurst’s prior learning assessment program as she launched into the rest of the requirements for her English degree. Son Adam, 26, looking for direction after years spent taking community college classes and working on cruise ships, decided he’d give college another try and enrolled in the Marylhurst English program as well. He aspires to be a high school English teacher.
Mark, 53, resisted going to college “with all my might,” even after being laid off from his mill job in 2008 and sending out hundreds of resumes with no results. Now, his son describes him as the most enthusiastic student in the family. Mark may continue on to earn a master's in sustainable business at Marylhurst.
While at Marylhurst, “the Webber clan,” as they are known on campus, took occasional classes together, joking they saved a lot of money on books because they could share. Adam even met his fiancée, Sarah Zisa, at Marylhurst; they will marry in August.
“This is a family-oriented place,” Adam added, “the perfect place for a family to go to school.”