Alyse and Caitlin Carr joined the more than 3,000 graduates who crossed the stage this weekend to accept degrees from Eastern Washington University. Yet even in that mass, the Carrs carried something more with them – the memory of three generations, footsteps echoing across nearly a century of history.
Their mother, Marla Carr, graduated in 1988 and became a teacher. Marla’s father, Larry Cremeen, graduated in 1961 with a business degree. And her grandmother, Elizabeth Conley, graduated with a teaching degree in 1924, when EWU was still called Cheney Normal School.
Through the decades, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins have also graduated from the institution.
To Marla’s family, Cheney and EWU are considered home, despite the fact that they live on the west side of the state, Marla said. “The only things that have changed in Cheney is there are a couple more stop lights and a couple more fast-food places,” she said.
Her daughters drank at the same bars she did, she said. Alyse even lived in Dressler Hall, the same dorm her father lived in.
Both daughters say there was no pressure to continue the family tradition by attending Eastern, and Marla said she didn’t feel pressured either. “No one expected it,” she said. “I always had a connection.”
Still, Marla said she always secretly hoped that one day her daughters would become Eastern Eagles. Though Alyse is 18 months younger than her sister, she arrived at the school first.
“It was the only college I applied to,” she said. “I just knew I was going there, because my whole family went there.”
Caitlin attended Lewis Clark State College in Idaho for year, but said it didn’t work out. After that, it was only natural that she transfer to Eastern.
“It was a no-brainer,” she said. “I knew Aly was going to be there.”
Cheney is a true college town, and everyone was nice, Caitlin said. “They’re there for the same reasons you are,” she said. “It’s a homey, small-town college feel.”
All three women said they never felt homesick because the campus was home to them. “We always heard the stories,” Alyse said. “We knew it was a fun place. Our cousins were there with us.”
Though their time as students may have ended, the family still plans to keep attending football games and homecoming weekends.
“We’re loyal,” Marla said. “We’re loyal Eags.”