Although today more women than men graduate from college each year, that wasn’t always the case. Higher education was once primarily for those going into professions typically reserved for men. So when Amy Tapscott received her diploma this spring, it was be a noteworthy event – she’ll be following in the footsteps of her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
“Education goes back four generations in my family,” Tapscott said. “They have always wanted me to reach for the stars, if you will, and accomplish my goals and dreams, and I’ve finally been able to do that.”
Amy Tapscott is a senior in the MacMurray College nursing program. A 2002 graduate of Jacksonville High School, she received an associate’s degree right after high school, before taking her life in a different direction. That included giving birth to her two daughters, Abigail and Hailey, now ages 10 and 7, respectively. She and her husband, Luke, are also the parents of Clayton (18), and Adisyn (11). Despite their busy lives, fate – the influence of three previous generations – and her husband’s support led Amy Tapscott back to campus.
“I’m one of the older students in my class at MacMurray. I didn’t get my degree right after high school, but I did do it. And now we’re instilling in our children that importance of putting education first and get a degree because it’s so important,” she said.
The higher education tradition in her family all began in 1919, when Tapscott’s great-grandmother, Francis Ingram, received a degree from Columbia University. Her daughter, Elizabeth Long, grew up in New Jersey before enrolling at MacMurray. She graduated with a degree in psychology and a teaching certificate, and also had the honor of hearing former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt give the address at her commencement. Long’s daughter, Marilyn Mayberry, did her studying about a mile-and-a-half to the west, eventually graduating with bachelor’s degree from Illinois College, before going on to receive her master’s from Western Illinois University. All three pursued careers in teaching and a lifetime of instilling the importance of education in their children.
“Encouraging children at a young age to think about their future education is very important,” Mayberry said. “My mother and father continued the philosophy of obtaining a good education in order to support yourself by passing that on to myself and my brother. They have also been a great support and encouragement for their grandchildren and great grandchildren to further their education.”
It’s obvious that this encouragement from her family had the desired effect on Tapscott. And as if to reinforce the message one more time as she progressed ever closer to her goal, she was assigned to do a clinical at Cedarhurst Assisted Living and Memory Care, where her grandfather now resides.
“I get to see him every time we go out there,” Tapscott said. “My grandfather has always supported me in my schooling. My family has always pushed education above everything else.”
Scott Long, as could be expected, spent a good deal of his life dedicated to education, as well. He met Amy Tapscott’s grandmother while she was attending MacMurray and he was at Illinois College. Scott Long spent 37 years as a teacher, coach, principal and the regional superintendent for Morgan and Scott Counties.
“My dad said that it means a lot to him to see Amy graduate, and it would have meant a lot to grandma, too,” Marilyn Mayberry said.
Amy Tapscott decided to not follow the previous three generations of her family into education, but she does see her chosen path as similar.
“I might be in the nursing field, but there is so much teaching that goes along with the nurse patient/relationship. So I might not be in front of a classroom, but I am teacher, just in a different way,” she said.