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2013 Marylhurst Graduating Class: A Family Affair

Three members of Vancouver's Webber family celebrate 2013 degree completions

For the past two years, Adam Webber got no sympathy from his parents about the demands of college and the mounds of reading and writing required of him. That's because Mom and Dad were in college, too – and sometimes even in the same class as their son.

Adam and his mother, Amy Webber, will both complete their bachelor's degrees in English literature and writing at Marylhurst University this June. And his dad, Mark Webber, isn't far behind; he's scheduled to complete his communications bachelor's degree in December.

Adam and Amy are among more than 540 bachelor's and master's degree candidates who will be honored at Marylhurst's 119th commencement, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, June 15 at the Oregon Convention Center. Amy will be one of three graduates speaking during the commencement ceremony.

"While it's unusual to have an entire family working on college degrees at the same time, it's not as unheard of as you might expect at Marylhurst, where most of our students are adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s returning to school and focused on completing unfinished educational business," said Judi Johansen, Marylhurst president. "Amy, Adam and Mark are emblematic of all of the students we serve here at Marylhurst; they each come for a unique reason, and our responsibility and privilege is to help all of them take that next step forward in their education to make their lives more fulfilling and our communities better places."

For the Webber family of Vancouver, Wash., the rush to college started with Amy, 50, a reading assistant at Tukes Primary Elementary School in Battle Ground, who decided to return to school in 2010 after her youngest child, Adele, earned her bachelor's degree. Out of college for 17 years, Amy earned more than 30 credits through Marylhurst's prior learning assessment program as she launched into the rest of the requirements for her English degree.

"I wanted to become a better writer, and I felt that in order to do that I needed to analyze the styles of the best writers in history," Amy said. "In my three years at Marylhurst, I've learned there are more possibilities out there for me professionally than I could have imagined."

Amy's initiative and enthusiasm for being back in school rubbed off on her family. Son Adam, 26, looking for direction after years spent taking community college classes and working on cruise ships, decided he'd give college another try and enrolled in the Marylhurst English program as well. He'll graduate with his mother in June, and aspires to be a high school English teacher.

Amy's husband Mark, 53, resisted going to college "with all my might," even after being laid off from his mill job in 2008 and sending out hundreds of resumes with no results. Now, his son describes him as the most enthusiastic student in the family, and he may continue on to earn an MBA in Sustainable Business at Marylhurst after graduating in December.

"I had been on a lot of college campuses, and found them mostly impersonal and intimidating," Mark recalled. "Here, it is really peaceful. The people at Marylhurst actually do care about students and what they think; they walk the talk. Marylhurst lives the idea that 'everyone is a teacher.'"

While at Marylhurst, "the Webber clan," as they are known on campus, took occasional classes together, joking they saved a lot of money on books because they could share. Adam even met his fiancée, Sarah Zisa, at Marylhurst; after graduating in June, they will marry in August.

"This is a fantastic school," Amy said. "We all feel so at home here."

"This is a family-oriented place," Adam added, "the perfect place for a family to go to school."

Four winners of the Marylhurst University Excellence in Teaching Award for 2012-13 also will be honored during the June 15 commencement ceremony: Patrick Balducci, School of Business; John Caruso, Department of English; Jim Davis, Department of Human Sciences; and Reiko Igarashi, Department of Art & Interior Design. All nominations for the award come from students.

For a complete list of 2013 Marylhurst University degree candidates, visit

About Marylhurst University

Marylhurst University, a private liberal arts university 10 miles south of Portland, Ore., on Highway 43, is regionally accredited and nationally recognized for innovation and academic excellence in serving adult learners. Founded in 1893, Oregon's oldest Catholic university serves more than 1,600 multigenerational students of all faiths and backgrounds. Marylhurst offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degrees and professional certificate programs on campus and online, all of which integrate the liberal arts with professional studies and prepare graduates to be ethical leaders who think critically and creatively.

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