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Students

All in the family - father, daughter, son graduate

May 16, 2013

When Bob Towry decided he wanted to pursue a Ph.D. at Colorado State University, he was simply hoping his experience would help future natural resource and wildlife professionals. He had no idea he would set in motion one of the most unusual family graduation parties in CSU history.

Towry will graduate Friday from the Warner College of Natural Resources with a doctorate in Forest Sciences. He will be joined in cap and gown that evening by his daughter, Devon, who will receive her Master of Arts in English Literature, while his son, Ross, will graduate Saturday evening with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.

“It’s really cool that it worked out this way,” said Ross, 23. “We couldn’t have planned this – it just had to happen. But growing up in my house, everyone in my family has pursued knowledge and broadening our horizons. I just think it’s interesting that we’re all reaching our goal at the same time.”

Unusual path

Bob’s path to the graduation stage might be the most unusual. He worked 25-plus years for Colorado’s Division of Wildlife before retiring, but had always entertained the idea of pursuing his interest in teaching. Earning a Ph.D. was a logical step for a man who had no intention of easing into a sedentary retirement.

“Throughout my career working in wildlife conservation and habitat management, I learned how important policy is. It’s basically all about how you get things done,” Bob said. “My goal is to help educate future natural resource and wildlife management professionals about the ins and outs of land management and conservation policy, how those policy tools work, and how to apply the right tools to achieve management goals.”

His children were delighted when Bob decided to go back to school.

“I think it is totally cool,” Devon said. “His brother is a medical doctor, and his sister has a Ph.D., so it makes sense that my dad is a doctor, too. I’m really proud of him.”

Proud accomplishments

Devon earned a B.A. in English at CSU in 2009 and had worked in the private sector in education and as a book editor before opting to pursue her master’s. For her CSU, was the only choice.

“I had some other options, but the people in CSU’s English department are truly amazing and I love them all,” she said. “I learned so much from them as an undergrad, and I really wanted to come back and work with them on my master’s. I’m really glad I did.”

Despite being the only family member graduating without an advanced degree, Ross said his father, mother (Sandra) and sister are proud of him. He admits that college wasn’t always an immediate goal after graduating from Berthoud High School.

“Honestly, I think everyone’s just happy I’m getting a degree,” he said, laughing.

A bit of luck

Still, this three-tiered celebration needed a bit of luck to happen. Devon had always planned to graduate this spring, but Bob and Ross were scheduled to graduate last December before running into some snags. It wasn’t until they all resumed their studies in January that they figured out they would all reach the finish line at the same time. Sunday, relatives and friends will gather to celebrate the unique accomplishment with them.

“Being in school with my kids gave me a great opportunity to be more engaged in what they were doing and learning,” Bob said. “Their studies are quite different from mine, so it was interesting to see the different ways in which we were all learning and the similarities and differences between the different disciplines. Our class schedules didn’t line up too much but we would have lunch together on campus when we could and talk about our different departments and coursework. It really was an interesting experience.”

Celebration time!

Added Devon: “My dad is pretty cool and so is my brother, and it’s been really fun having them on campus. My mom has been great, too, cheering us all on to get done. It’s been a great time, and now we’re going to have a huge party to celebrate!”