Living out the legacy

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Every time senior Ryan Bomalaski bites into a G.C.B. at Marvin’s, he sees a photograph of his parents, which hangs on the wall in the popular restaurant.

Bomalaski, whose parents met on a DePauw Winter Term trip to Sierra Leone, is a legacy.

“I don’t know if it ever clicks that they went here,” he said. “It’s hard to see my parents as college students.”

Director of Admission Earl Macam said each graduating class has about 20 percent of students with legacy status, or a connection to DePauw. Initially, this statistic only included students with a parent or a grandparent who attended DePauw.

However, when the data recording structure changed in 2010, the definition of a legacy expanded to include students who had a sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin or great-grandparent attend DePauw. With the broader definition of a legacy, 27 percent of students in the class of 2014 are legacies.

Sitting in a hotel room at the Inn at DePauw last spring, freshman Drew Rohm-Ensing, took what he called a “leap of faith” when he decided to enroll as a student. He visited several times, either on class reunions with his parents or to see his sister, senior Julia Rohm-Ensing.

But Rohm-Ensing has other family connections to DePauw — more than he can count.

“We have a large tree of DePauw alumni in my family,” he said.

This “tree” also includes a grandparent, aunt, uncle, great uncle, great great aunt and various other family members.

Junior Kristina McLane, whose parents, grandfather and great-grandfather attended DePauw, said being a legacy was her reason for applying to DePauw, but not necessarily to attend DePauw.

Out of her entire family, her grandmother, who married McLane’s Tiger grandfather, was particularly emotional about McLane’s college decision. Her grandmother was proud that the McLane name would live on at DePauw, especially since McLane’s grandfather has passed away earlier that year.

Junior Katie Cassidy is another legacy student — both of her parents and her aunt and uncle attended DePauw.

“And it kind of makes me want to have my own kids go here, just to continue that legacy,” she said.

Cassidy said being a legacy played a fairly large factor into her decision to attend DePauw. Cassidy said she didn’t feel any pressure from her father to attend his alma mater.

“But my mom would always find something wrong with another school that I was looking at, and be like ‘Well, DePauw doesn’t have that problem with it.'”

Bomalaski received no pressure whatsoever from his parents to attend DePauw, especially since his mother didn’t have the best experience here, particularly in regards to greek life.

“She didn’t really push me not to go here, but she just warned me that it would be a little different than most other schools,” he said.

Despite his mother’s experience, Bomalaski decided to participate in greek life.

“When I talked to my dad about rush freshman year, he told me that while the house provided a lot for him, and he liked it, he has a bigger connection with me than the house, so he would support me anywhere I went,” he said.

His father was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity, but Bomalaski made a different choice, joining Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

While Bomalaski didn’t join the same house as his father, a chemistry major, he has taken a similar academic path by studying biochemistry.

Rohm-Ensing, also chose to pledge a different house than his relatives — Sigma Chi fraternity.

Rohm-Ensing said his father didn’t put any pressure on him to join the same chaoter because he realizes that each chapter changes over the years.

Rohm-Ensing has followed an extracurricular activity of his sister, however, by singing in DePauwcapella.

Rohm-Ensing said because he gets along with his sister so well, being on campus with her is a good experience. However, since they are three years apart and study different subjects, their paths don’t cross too often. 
 “It’s not like I’m seeing her everywhere I go,” Rohm-Ensing said.

Like Rohm-Ensing, Cassidy has participated in the same extracurricular activities as her family members, her mother in particular. She played tennis her freshman year, just as her mother did throughout college.

Furthermore, her mom and aunt are both members of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, the chapter Cassidy pledged two years ago. As a Theta legacy, Cassidy shared her initiation ceremony with her mother and walked past her mom and aunt’s composite pictures every day last year on the way to her room.

Similarly to Cassidy, McClane has chosen to participate in similar activities as her mother. Currently, McLane is studying abroad in Spain, a path her mother walked as well.

McLane said because her parents had a similar college experience, they have given her advice about balancing academics and social life at DePauw.

While these legacy students each have their own DePauw experiences, one thing — besides the $1,000 scholarship automatically given to each legacy in the admission process — remains the same: each students’ parents have been proud of their child for attending DePauw.

Going through the same type of college life has also brought these students closer to their parents.

“I think it’s made my family even more connected to DePauw now that I’m here because they come for Monon and random weekends and still act like students when they come back,” Cassidy said.

McLane echoed Cassidy’s sentiments.

“I think I’ve gotten closer to my parents in some ways just because there’s a lot of things we can relate with.”