Patrick, Maura and Conor Hall are among the 215 graduates receiving bachelor's degrees from Earlham this year.

Making Commencement a Family Affair

May 09, 2013

Earlham’s graduation ceremony on Saturday will have a familial feel. Three siblings will cross the Chase Stage with a closer relationship than they have ever had before, and a father will follow the same path his son crossed last year.

The three Hall siblings, twins Conor and Patrick and sister Maura, who was born just 11 months after the twins, say that while they may have taken their first steps toward separation while at Earlham, their bond grew closer and stronger while on campus.

“We’ve had an amazing four years together in this community, and this community has taught us a lot,” Conor says. “During our time here at Earlham, we continued to develop our individual identities. Even though we are all incredibly close, we did a good job of living our lives but doing our own things.”

“Earlham has been a great place for us,” agrees Maura. “Earlham is such a strong beautiful community, and we’ve all grown from that. I am extremely grateful for the role Earlham has played in shaping the person I am today.”
After arriving on campus from their home in Texas, the trio quickly initiated weekly family gatherings including studying together, eating together and de-stressing with family sing-a-longs.

Sibling Support Network

“There has never been a time when we have not been close,” Maura says. They look to each other for advice, encouragement and honesty.

“Being together facilitated a lot of growth,” Patrick says. “As we have developed and matured into the adults, we are closer for having come through the process together.”

“There were difficult times, but the strength of the relationship is that we’re not afraid to be honest with each other,” Conor says. “There’s deep respect there, and although there are times that what they are saying may be difficult to hear, it has a deep impact. We know that it is coming from a place of love and care. I know they are looking out for me. We are very honest with each other in a loving, compassionate way.”

The siblings attribute the strength of their relationship to their parents, who made family an important focus and who demonstrated respect, love and care toward each other. The Halls also say their parents are extremely supportive.

“They were very supportive of us choosing Earlham because it was such a good fit for each of us as individuals,” Maura says. “It fit us exactly as it should. Now we feel bittersweet and nostalgic about leaving, but we are also ready. We are excited about what we are doing and about what each other is doing.”

Looking to the Future

Patrick, a psychology major, will take a break from academic work and use his carpentry and building skills during the summer to help build a Nordic trail in Colorado and a Tibetan Buddhist center. In August he plans to hike the 211-mile John Muir Trail. In the fall, Patrick is one of three Earlham metalworkers invited to an expense paid year of metalwork in Turkey with a group of master Turkish coppersmiths who visited Earlham during spring 2012. After the yearlong immersion in metals work, Patrick will begin schooling to become a chiropractor at Palmer University.

Maura and Conor will share an apartment during the summer in Denver, where Maura will work as a caregiver for a quadriplegic, a caregiver for a family with disabled children while interning with youth at a refugee center. Beginning in the fall, Maura will begin a QuEST Fellowship, a Quaker program where young adults commit to a year of full-time service for social justice. The psychology major will be one of seven QuEST Fellows in Seattle, where she will work with children in a homeless shelter.

Conor, a politics major, will spend the summer working on community partnerships for Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Specifically Conor will travel throughout Colorado working with nonprofit constituencies, Denver homeless population and veterans. Beginning in September Conor will spend four months traveling to California, Vietnam, Morocco and Bolivia to study global comparative climate policy through Student Independent Travel. He is contemplating graduate school or law school.

Following His Son’s Footsteps

Also receiving a bachelor of arts degree will be William James Brooks, D.O., whose son James Brooks ’12 crossed the stage a year ago.

William has a private practice of Comprehensive Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine in Kansas City, MO, and is a clinical associate professor of osteopathic manipulative medicine at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biology. He co-founded Restorative Care Partners, LLC, and the Restorative Care Study Group.

The Fort Wayne, Ind., native was a full-time student at Earlham from 1970 until 1973 and had completed all the graduation requirements for a philosophy major, except he was six credits short of graduating.

Having also completed several courses in biology and chemistry at Earlham, Brooks decided to change career paths and apply to medical school. He took a few courses at Indiana University in Bloomington to qualify and continue on to receive a Doctor of Osteopathy degree from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1980.

William met his future wife, Barbara, at Earlham, and years later when it came time to send their son to college, the choice was Earlham. Last May, James Brooks crossed the stage as a member of the Class of 2012.

When Bonita Washington-Lacey became aware that William never received his bachelor’s degree, Earlham’s Registrar and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs encouraged him to transfer his credits from IU to qualify for his long-ago earned degree from Earlham.

“Earlham made a terrific decision to award Bill Brooks an Earlham degree some 40 years after he matriculated with my and Susan’s class,” says John “Chip” Scarlett '73, Brooks’ classmate and current member of the Earlham Board of Trustees.

The paperwork has been completed and on May 11, William will follow his son’s footsteps across Chase Stage and receive his diploma.

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