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Legacy students call Eastern home

As I sat in Hainer’s second floor lounge with juniors Katherine and Elizabeth Coulter, I could tell that they were close. They finished each other’s sentences, joked around and laughed a lot. I somewhat embarrassedly asked if they were twins; they replied with a unanimous “yes.”

“But I’m eight minutes older,” business management major Katherine said with a smile.

“Yeah, but I’m still taller,” Elizabeth replied, “so we’re even.”

Both Katherine and Elizabeth are Legacy Students, a group of Eastern students that have a relative that previously attended Eastern. Throughout the years, the Legacy Students grew in size. This year they achieved their largest group, 15, in one year.

Katherine and Elizabeth, however, have one thing most Legacy Students do not: a parent who not only went to Eastern, but currently works on campus. The Coulter sisters’ mother is Mary Gardner, director of alumni and full-time staff member at Eastern.

Has going to a campus where your parent works been difficult? Not at all.

“At first, I had a lot of hesitation,” Katherine said, “but now that I’ve been here, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”

Elizabeth had no qualms about coming to Eastern. “When I was four, I told my mom that I was coming to Eastern,” Elizabeth said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Gardner was much like her daughters. A member of the class of ’83, Gardner was an elementary education major, just like Elizabeth is now. “Eastern was the only school I applied to,” Gardner said.

When Bettie Ann Brigham, vice president of student development, called Gardner to offer her the alumni director position, Gardner took the job. “I didn’t realize that (attending Eastern) would be the best four years of my life,” Gardner said.

When Gardner was at Eastern, which was then called Eastern College, she was vice president of her senior class of 140 students. Approximately 700 students were enrolled at the time. “We were a family,” Gardner said.

Eastern became a university in 2001, but Gardner and her daughters believe things have not really changed.

“Eastern is still Eastern,” Katherine said. “The name may have changed, but the community is still the same.”

It is this community that attracted them to Eastern. “It’s been amazing,” Elizabeth said. “I can’t believe that I’m actually here.”

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