From Generation to Generation
Freshman Kelsey Byrd is one of the newest members of the Widener University community. But in a way, she is simply returning to her roots.
Kelsey’s mother, Teresa Byrd, was pursuing a master’s degree in nursing in the family nurse practitioner program while pregnant with the future member of the Class of 2022. And Kelsey was still in a stroller when she watched her mother receive her degree in 2001.
Eleven years earlier, Kelsey’s grandmother and Teresa’s mother, Jan Town Matthai, had earned her master’s degree in nursing at Widener.
Kelsey is carrying on the family tradition. She is the third generation to attend Widener and will also study nursing.
“Since I was little I always wanted to be a nurse or a veterinarian. And I knew Widener had a really good nursing program,” said Kelsey. “My mom always spoke well of Widener and so did my grandmom.”
Kelsey is part of the nearly 800-member Class of 2022, which arrived on campus at the end of August. The freshmen are drawn from about a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Illinois, and Virginia, as well as from five foreign countries, including China, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and Venezuela. An additional 114 transfer students also join the freshmen.
And Kelsey is not the only newcomer with a Widener tie. At least eight other students have at least one parent who graduated from the university.
Both Kelsey and Teresa discovered their love of nursing by watching their respective mothers at work. And while Teresa and Jan are thrilled Kelsey is following in their footsteps, they were careful not to pressure her into attending their alma mater.
As it turns out, no pressure was needed. Once Kelsey visited campus, her decision was made.
“I loved it, and I didn’t look at any other school after that,” she said.
Teresa, a family nurse practitioner, remembers the moment well: “I called my mom immediately. I couldn’t believe it.”
Seventeen years after she was a student, Teresa is impressed by how much campus has changed. “The nursing labs are amazing, incredible, really up-to-date. I’m really excited for Kelsey to have that live-on-campus college experience. And her clinicals will be at some really great hospitals.”
Jan, a retired family nurse practitioner, has been on hand for many of her granddaughter’s early college moments. She accompanied her to Accepted Student Day and said “the welcome… I was just moved to tears.” And on Move-In Day, she, along with Teresa and other family members, helped Kelsey move her belongings into her residence hall, the Nurses Educated Together living learning community.
Watching her daughter and now granddaughter follow in her footsteps, Jan simply says, “imitation is the finest form of flattery.”
As for Kelsey, she, like her new classmates, is eager to begin her own Widener story. “I’m most excited about meeting new people, the new environment, and to branch out a little bit,” she said. “The campus is a good size for me, friendly, and home-like.”
The members of Class of 2022 were treated to a traditional Widener move-in, with faculty, staff, and returning student volunteers handling the heavy lifting, unpacking cars, and carrying items into residence halls.
Move-in is followed by several days of orientation programming to help the newcomers acclimate to campus, and includes Academic Convocation, the official welcome of the new students.