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May 2008

Living legacy

There's a nice symmetry to it. A perfect round number. One hundred years. Four alumnae. One family.

This Friday, when Stephanie Turner walks across the stage to receive her diploma, she will be the fourth woman in her family to graduate from UNCG.

First was her great-grandmother, Martha Tomlinson Petty in 1908. Then her grandmother, Marie Elise Frisard in 1931, and finally, her mother, Martha Jean Hannah in 1960. This year marks the 100th anniversary since Turner's great-grandmother started the family tradition.

Each woman contributed something to the lore of UNCG, or Woman's College as it was formerly called. University Archives has some of the correspondence Tomlinson's father carried on with Charles Duncan McIver, the university's first president. Frisard kept lots of memorabilia that her granddaughter explored as she was in and out of Frisard's house in childhood. Hannah told her daughter stories of meeting Robert Frost and living in Shaw in 1956, the year the university's first African-American students — JoAnne Smart and Bettye Ann Davis Tillman — lived there.

Now Turner, a religious studies and history major, is adding her own memories to the family legacy. She has her own favorite professors (Dr. Stephen Ruzicka, in particular) and her own perspective as an adult student.

“I found it easier as an adult student,” she said. “I understand the historical significance more quickly, and it's definitely easier studying. No distractions like parties in the dorm.”

Interestingly, another family can also claim four generations of students. Gillian Small, a junior, is the latest in a line that includes Mary Gray Romefelt '19, Nancy Romefelt Mapes '48, Nancy Mapes Small '75 and Harold Small Jr. '75.

For Turner, attending UNCG has led to the next chapter in her life — graduate school. Once commencement is over, she'll be back at UNCG working on her master's in library science.

The legacy continues.





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