Truman leaves a pawprint on hearts

People decide to come to Truman State University for many different reasons. Of those, a number have to do with family connections to the University. Truman has a myriad of familial networks that tie the community of students, alumni, faculty and staff together. These networks form legacies.


The Kueblers: A Family That Stays Together

Senior Jane Kuebler has been coming to Truman almost her entire life. She said her first trip to Truman was just months after she was born.

Jane’s parents are Truman alumni and frequently come back to visit Truman to be a part of activities on campus. Her brother, who is also a Truman alumnus, often comes back as well to meet up with Jane and their parents.  

Jane said she looked at other programs and even toured another school, but ultimately she knew Truman was an easy choice.

“Every time I came back, it just felt comfortable and felt like home,” Jane said. “I knew that there was a support system here.”

Along with her major, Jane is involved in Phi Sigma Pi, Lambda Pi Eta and Public Relations Club. She is also a member of Truman’s cheer squad and said one of her favorite places to be is in Stokes Stadium on the sidelines of a football game.

Jane said she plans to continue coming back to Truman after she graduates, just like her parents have done.

“I know a lot of people who will still be going here,” Jane said, “Having the cheer connection as well, I know I want to come back for a Homecoming.”

Jane’s mom, Bonnie, said she was a student at Truman from 1983-1987 and studied history and pre-law. She was also part of the Student Senate and the Student Activities Board, where she met her husband Kevin.

Kevin was an accounting major at Truman from 1986-1990. He said he chose to go to Truman in part because of the full-ride scholarship he received as a General John J. Pershing Scholar.

“Kevin was a new [SAB] member, and we were more [like] big sister and little brother for a while, and then friendship turned into dating and dating turned into a relationship,” Bonnie said.

Bonnie said she and her husband still get together with friends they met during their time on the Student Activities Board.

In nearly 30 years, Kevin said proudly, he and his wife have only missed one Truman Homecoming.

“We enjoy the downtown, we enjoy the community, but it’s Truman that brings us back,” Kevin said.


The Selfs: A Father-Son Connection

Communication Department Chair Jay Self began teaching at Truman in the spring of 1997, but his time at Truman has not been continuous.

Self said he left Truman at the end of May 2000 to pursue a doctoral degree, taught at James Madison University for one year, then came back to Truman in fall 2005.

Self said he decided to come back to Truman when he was offered a tenure-track position and, at the time, Truman was relatively close to his parents and parents-in-law.

In addition to teaching, Self is the faculty adviser for Lambda Pi Eta and Up Chuckles, as well as the director of the Truman in Washington program.

Self said one of the things he likes about Truman is the quality of the students.

“Students are engaged, and they’re really trying to learn as compared to other places I have taught,” said Self.

Self said he truly believes in the liberal arts program. He said it is his job to educate citizens and prepare students for the working world.

Self has two sons, one who is in high school and another, Jon, who is a junior at Truman. He said he and his wife have tried to persuade their sons to go to Truman.

“We told [Jon] that he should look at any college he wants to go to,” Self said. “We would make trips to colleges and look at those and see what kind of programs they had, but he had to look at Truman as well.”  

Self said he and his wife will do the same thing for their younger son.

Having his son attend the same college he teaches at, Self said, is like having a child at a different college in a different town.

“Occasionally he’ll call me and say, ‘Hey, let’s get lunch,’ or he’ll stop by [my] office if he happens to be in Barnett [Hall], but he’s a college student just like everyone else,” Self said.


The Beneventos: A Truman Triad

Junior Claire Benevento has two major connections to Truman: her father, English professor Joe Benevento, and her mother, Truman alumna Carol Benevento.

Claire said cost was a big factor in her choice to go to Truman, but there was also the influence of her family. She said the transition to college was made easier because she already knew people from the Truman community.

Apart from her studies, Claire is involved with the Catholic Newman Center, a specific connection she shares with her mother.

Carol attended Truman from 1983-1987 for her undergraduate studies and from 1988-1990 for her graduate studies. As a student, she was a member of the Newman Council, and the Newman Center was her favorite place to hang out.

“The Newman Center used to be on Dodson Street, and it was probably just a house,” Carol said. “It was very small, a lot smaller than it is now.”

Carol said she is still friends with some of the people she met when she was a student.

When she graduated with her bachelor’s degree, Carol met Joe through a mutual friend. Joe has been teaching at Truman for 35 years.

He said he talked Carol into getting her graduate degree in English before he left Truman for a leave of absence. When he came back, she was in her second year of graduate school.

Even though Joe is from New York City, he said he likes that Truman is in a small town.

“I enjoy having my kids in a small, relatively safe town,” Joe said.

Joe and his wife Carol have four kids — two who have graduated from college, one who is currently in college, and one who is not college age yet. He said Claire is the first of his kids to go to Truman.

“I would have been happy if she went somewhere else, but I’m much happier that she’s here,” Joe said.

Along with his own family connections to Truman, Joe has witnessed a number of other family connections. He said there are people who are currently attending Truman whose parents were his students.

It is not only in Kirksville that Joe sees his connections with the Truman community. He said when he gives a reading of his writing in St. Louis, he might have 20 of his former students show up.

“I love my job, I love teaching and this is a particularly nice place to teach,” Joe said.