Five females and one male dressed casually.

From left front are cousins Blair Beaman, Jayme Gordon and Jolyn Hussey. From back left are Christian Gordon (Jayme’s husband) Joan Hussey (Jayme and Jolyn’s mother), Dawn Beaman (Blair’s mother) and Jaclyn Robinson (Jayme and Jolyn’s sister). The tight-knit family has built a Wingate University legacy.

When Wingate junior Blair Beaman is home for the weekend yakking about plans for W’International, students’ toilet-papering the Quad for Homecoming or an article in the Weekly Triangle, she rarely has to explain what she’s talking about.

Instead of confused looks, she gets knowing smiles from her mom, aunt, uncle and three cousins, all of whom graduated from the University over the last four decades. A native of Albemarle, North Carolina, Beaman grew up hearing about Wingate, but not thinking she’d wind up here.

Her mother, Dawn Beaman, graduated in 1981 with an associate’s degree in business. Dawn’s twin sister, Joan Hussey, finished two years later with a bachelor’s in early childhood education. Her husband, Joseph Hussey, attended Wingate for two years and was a Bulldog cheerleader. The Husseys’ eldest daughter, Jaclyn Robinson, graduated in 2012 with a degree in communications, and her younger sisters, twins Jolyn Hussey and Jayme Gordon (wife of Wingate alum Christian Gordon) earned nursing degrees in 2015.

Although Blair Beaman had long been a Bulldog (also the mascot for Albemarle High School), she wanted to study marine life and pictured herself closer to the ocean. But after learning that Wingate offers an environmental biology major, Beaman decided to apply.

“I sent in my forms and got accepted, and my cousins were here when I did my tour. I loved it,” said Beamon, a recipient of the Alton and Goldie McSwain Endowed Scholarship.

A girl smiles.

Blair Beaman

In addition to immersing herself in her biology classes — right now she’s taking ornithology — Beaman said she’s enjoyed being involved in Sigma Sigma Sigma, which has also become a family affair.

“All three of my cousins are in Tri Sigma, and we do alumni initiations. So this year we initiated my mom and my aunt,” she said. “I’m looking forward to Family Weekend. Mom will actually be here as a sorority sister.”

Beaman said there are other benefits to having family ties with recent alumni. “When it’s time to sign up for classes, I text my cousins and say, ‘Who’s a good teacher for this?’” she said.

As for her dreams of studying at the coast? Beaman landed an internship three hours from Wingate at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher and has spent her weekends this semester educating tourists about albino alligators, baby loggerheads and other sea life.

After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s in marine biology and one day work in rescue and rehabilitation. Meanwhile, she’s looking forward to having one more family connection at Wingate. Her fiancé, a member of the U.S. Marines, is headed to Wingate for the fall semester and will study finance.

Third-generation Legacy student

A man and his daughter stand in front of a brick wall.

Mary Catherine Boylin, shown with her father, Jim Boylin, is a third-generation Bulldog.

Like Beaman, senior Mary Catherine Boylin is also carrying on a family tradition by studying at Wingate. The management major is a third-generation Bulldog, following in the footsteps of her father, Jim Boylin, who graduated in 1972, and her grandmother, Margaret Boylin, a 1965 graduate.

Also like Beaman, Boylin, who is from Anson County, said it was a campus tour that helped her decide on Wingate.

“When I went for a tour here and saw our family’s brick outside of Stegall, I knew this is where I needed to be,” Boylin said. “This was going to be my home just like it was for others in my family.”

Those others also include her uncle, Paul Boylin, and her aunt, Susan Boylin.

Wingate University recognizes the importance of family ties by offering a Legacy Award Scholarship of $1,000 a year to undergraduate students whose parents, aunts or uncles are graduates and to those whose siblings have graduated or are enrolled.

“Admissions will usually inquire if an incoming student has a family member who graduated from Wingate,” said Jenn Pearson, associate director of the Student Financial Planning office. She said 132 students received Legacy scholarships during the 2016-2017 academic year.

More information about funding a Wingate University education is available from Student Financial Planning.

Kendall Shaw Sienon, a WU communications student, contributed to this article.

April 19, 2017