Connor Josselyn is in the process of moving into the seventh floor of Palmer Hall on a sweltering Wednesday morning, helped by his dad, mom, sister and grandmother. This is Connor’s first semester at Eastern Kentucky University, but it would be impossible for him to say EKU is a new place for him. It’s in his blood, and has been for generations. His sister, Katie, just graduated in May with a bachelor’s in Communications Sciences and Disorders. His cousin Sydney Shepherd is moving into Grand Campus for her last year of undergraduate studies. His dad Tony and his mom Dawn are both double graduates of EKU, and his sister Sam got her undergraduate degree in 2019.
If you were to draw a family tree starting with Connor’s great grandparents, 10 of the family members have either graduated from EKU or are attending, including his entire nuclear family.
“I chose to attend EKU because of the opportunities in Computer Science that are given when compared to other schools within the state. EKU was one of the top options and because I was familiar with the campus and community, I decided to attend here,” Connor said.
Ask the Josselyns, the Shepherds or the Crosthwaite families, almost all descendants or linked by marriage to the lineage of Ferrell Crosthwaite and Lois Grey, why they attended Eastern, and they’ll each give you reasons that seem to be different on the surface. When boiled down to their essences, they all come back to Eastern’s people, places or programs.
“For us, EKU is truly our home away from home. EKU has been there for a very long time, influenced our family in many different ways, and will continue to impact us every day,” said Sam Josselyn, Connor’s older sister.
She added that if she were to have kids, they wouldn’t be headed for the Campus Beautiful unless they wanted to attend. “Our kids, though, will never be forced or swayed one way when making such an important decision in their lives. We hope to encourage them and support them no matter which direction they choose.” Sam, a 2019 graduate, was a leader in the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, participated in club soccer and student government.
Her dad Tony and mom Dawn met at EKU. “Each one of our family members chose EKU for a uniquely individual reason. I chose it for my major. Dawn chose it due to the beautiful campus. My children chose it for their programs,” Tony said. “My brother-in-law, Bret Shepherd, chose it for the scholarship opportunities. There are so many different reasons why EKU was such a great opportunity for all of us.”
EKU has been the not-so-secret sauce for Tony and Dawn’s professional success in northern Kentucky, but Eastern’s variety of programs has made it the best choice for multiple generations to attend. “My favorite thing would have to be the opportunities to get involved on campus. I loved the different groups of people I got to know and the activities on campus that were always happening. I also loved going to school with my sister and cousin,” said Sam.
Katie added, “I loved how our family went there for different reasons and that they offer such a variety of opportunities. I also liked how the campus and population is small enough to where you feel like you know everybody, but big enough for opportunities to meet new people and get involved in different activities.”
Tony has a police administration degree and a master’s in Justice Studies, played football at EKU, has been with the United States Probation office for a quarter century, and also worked as a National Football League official since 2018 after a long career of officiating in the lower ranks of organized football. His wife Dawn was an EKU cheerleader while earning her BS and a Specialist’s in School Psychology, but their children are attending for science, digital forensics and the medical field.
Because of the family’s dedication to EKU, University President Dr. David McFaddin hosted the family for a dinner this spring to celebrate them and their dedicatioin to EKU. “The dinner with the President, Mrs. McFaddin and (associate vice president for alumni engagement) Dan McBride was so much fun. We had the opportunity to discuss old times, and “new times,” and the direction President McFaddin has for EKU,” Tony said. “Yes, it was very special to us, and we greatly appreciated the opportunity to talk with them and share some old stories.”
For now, the Josselyns, Shepherds and Crosthwaites will have to wait for at least a couple of decades for any new Colonels to come to Eastern, but they all encourage anyone considering college to look at EKU.
“We all loved the nostalgic aspect of Eastern but also how we felt safe and secure. The location is ideal, centrally located in Kentucky, and accessible by many, major Kentucky cities. It was a great investment for all of us, and a springboard for many future great successes,” Tony said.