Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009
K-State fall commencement:
EARNING DEGREES FROM K-STATE A DEDONDER FAMILY TRADITION
MANHATTAN -- When Michael DeDonder, Manhattan, walks across the stage at Bramlage Coliseum Saturday, Dec. 12, he won't only be receiving his degree in kinesiology from Kansas State University's College of Arts and Sciences, he'll be continuing a family tradition by adding his name to the long list of DeDonders who are K-State alumni.
"It's an honor to have gone through the same place they did," DeDonder said. "I have loved my time at K-State. I've made great friends and worked with teachers who get to know people really well and want us to learn to the best of our abilities. Like any family would do, the faculty here work to lead you in the right direction."
Eugene DeDonder, Michael DeDonder's father and the director of pharmacy at K-State's Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital, said that his son's degree will make for some 16 K-State graduates on his side of the family -- with more DeDonder alums in waiting. His other son, Mark DeDonder, is a K-State sophomore in construction science. In addition, there are several K-State alums on his wife's side of the family, as well as the K-State graduates who descend from his father's cousin, Phillip DeDonder.
Eugene DeDonder said it's nearly impossible to get an accurate degree count for the entire family, but what he does know is that for some 25 years the DeDonders have been plentiful on the K-State campus.
"Since 1964 when my brother Larry began here, it seems like it was just an extension of our family having someone at K-State," he said.
The family's diehard commitment to K-State started with DeDonder's grandfather, a farmer from Reading.
"Dad always said that my grandfather's experience surviving the 1930s' Dust Bowl years made him realize how important education and being up to date, even in agriculture, was," Eugene DeDonder said. "He wanted his son, my dad, to go on to K-State, one of the nation's first land grant colleges, and was looking forward to this before he died suddenly."
DeDonder's father was 16-years-old when his dad died. Instead of going to college, though, he was charged with keeping the family farm going. But to fulfill his dad's wishes, he strongly encouraged each of his kids to go to college -- one with deep roots in agriculture.
"My dad was a firm believer in higher education and was determined to send as many of us on to college as possible," Eugene DeDonder said. "Of course being a rural, farming, 4-H family, K-State was the logical choice."
For a decade -- from fall 1964 to spring 1975 -- there were lots of DeDonders on the K-State campus. After a lull, the family's academic commitment picked up again in 1994 and has been going strong ever since.
Members of the DeDonder family have earned degrees from K-State in a variety of disciplines, including veterinary medicine, education, engineering and agricultural economics. Along with attending K-State, members of the family DeDonder also have been attending Wildcat football and basketball games for the last 40 years.
Eugene DeDonder said he has fond childhood memories of sitting at the kitchen table and listening to radio broadcasts of Wildcat football and basketball games. He has had season football and basketball tickets for some 30 years -- a considerable commitment given that he and his wife, Jeanie, lived in Emporia until moving to Manhattan just last year.
"My parents never missed a graduation and attended many football and basketball games before they died," Eugene DeDonder said. "Through these graduations, sporting and 4-H events on campus, it is no wonder we all feel as though K-State is an extension of our family. K-State has always been a big-time university with a small family atmosphere.
"And, as a former K-State yell leader, my role continues to be one that is to get the next generation of DeDonders excited about K-State and looking forward to becoming a Wildcat," he said.
K-State's fall 2009 commencement ceremonies are Friday, Dec. 11, and Saturday, Dec. 12. A complete listing of times and locations is available at http://www.k-state.edu/registrar/c_d/Fall2009.pdf