Kettering – a family affair

Oct 1, 2012

Choosing a college is a big decision, but having an older sibling scout out the territory can make it a little easier, as some Kettering sibling groups have found.

William SommervilleKettering University tends to run in families, maybe not as frequently as freckles or blue eyes, but if the number of siblings on campus and in the alumni population is any indication, it is a strong family trait. Often a student will come to Kettering following in their parent’s or grandparent’s footsteps.

But lately, a number of students are following their sibling to campus. Take the “Gaabo Girls” as they are popularly known, three sisters who overlapped one another in B-Section beginning with Amanda who graduated in 2012, followed by Angela who is scheduled to graduate in December 2012 and finishing up with Ashley who is a member of the class of 2015.

Other family trios include the Silers, Brian, Ashley and Bradley, 2010, 2012 and 2014 and the Oskoian family with Courtney, Cameron and Christopher, 2011, 2013 and 2015. The Oskoian migration to Kettering started with dad Karl, class of 1974.

Many siblings overlap in their college years, and some share the same academic section, like the Shakers, Steve and Robert (Bob) who are both current students, and Jenny TenHuisen and April Dunham who only overlapped by one term before Jenny graduated.

Then there are the Sommervilles, Angela and Will, who graduated in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Not only did they both attend Kettering and overlap by three years, they also have a father, Bill Sommerville, who attended Kettering (then GMI), class of 1964, maternal uncle Gary Finley in the class of 1964, and grandfather Clarence Finley, who was a former Kettering/GMI faculty member.

The Sommervilles:

Angela Sommerville came to Kettering as an A-Section student in 2000. Will followed as an A-Section freshman in 2001, later transferring to B-Section because of his co-op position at Sandia National Laboratory.

Having both children attending the same college helped ease the stress on their recently widowed mother, according to Angela. “She knew that her children were together, only half an hour away.  It also provided opportunity for family dinners on Sunday when co-op assignments did not prohibit it,” she said.

Angela said she chose Kettering because she was “intrigued by the co-op program and impressed by the alumni she had grown up with as role models. A year later, Will then decided to decline full ride scholarships with other top universities to follow in the family tradition as well,” said Angela. He was the third generation of Sommerville men to pursue engineering as a profession and the second to attend the university.

Angela went Greek, joining Alpha Phi sorority and volunteering with community organizations. Will tutored and was a member of on-campus clubs and honors societies. “We stayed out of each other’s hair,” said Angela. Despite doing their “own thing” on campus, including the Sommervilles knew a lot of the same people. “Will was known to tutor my classmates and friends.  Sometimes in classes he, himself, had not yet taken.  He learned from them and then had a preparatory advantage when later taking the course himself,” Angela said.

The Gaabo sistersThe Gaabo Girls:

The Gaabo Girls’ legacy is legend in present day. The trio from Rochester Mich., will have been at Kettering collectively for a decade when “the littlest Gaabo” graduates in 2015. Amanda, the oldest, graduated in 2010 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering-Biomedical Concentration. She currently works at Vestas in Colorado as a Product Compliance engineer. She first came to Kettering as a LITE participant in 2005. Lives Improve Through Engineering (LITE) is a pre-college program at Kettering for girls entering their senior year of high school. “After I attended LITE in the summer of 2005 where I lived on campus, met a few professors, talked to current students, learned about the co-op program, experienced learning in a small class environment, and heard success stories of Kettering grads, I decided that Kettering was the perfect school for me!” said Amanda.

Angela followed two years later and B-Section classmates were ALMOST convinced the two were twins because they looked so much alike. They also spent a lot of time together, both joining Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and both playing soccer and water polo. 

The best part about being on campus at the same time was “always having someone to talk to and being there for each other when one of us needed help or advice,” said Amanda, adding “and it was a lot of fun being able to spend time together. Now that I live in Colorado and do not see Angela very much, I am grateful for the all time we spent together at Kettering!”

Angela, also a Mechanical Engineering major, agreed, adding that Amanda “helped me plan out my schedule for the 4.5 years of school in my freshman year.  She even rated the difficulty of the classes so that I could balance my schedule with difficult and easier classes.  Having a sister on campus before me was a great resource.”  Having visited Amanda at Kettering, Angela had seen the benefits of the co-op program and liked the opportunities afforded by a small campus. “Seeing the school from a student’s perspective was very helpful.  It was different than just a school tour because I could actually see all of the campus life first hand,” said Angela, who is scheduled to graduate in December 2012. 

Following both her older sisters from the LITE program into B-Section, Ashley Gaabo overlaps middle sister Angela by about a year and half. Like Angela, Ashley, an Industrial Engineering major, also appreciates having a sibling mentor on campus. Being the third sister through Kettering in eight years has one tiny downside for Ashley though; “people forget your first name.  I have only been at Kettering for a year and have had several professors call me both Amanda and Angela or littlest Gaabo,” she said.

That didn’t stop her from following her sisters into membership in Alpha Sigma Alpha or having dinner with Angela at least once a week and hanging out together on weekends. “It's nice to have time to see your sister after rarely seeing her for three years while she was away at college,” said Ashley.

The Oskoian siblings with Reg BellThe Oskoians:

Another B-Section family trio is the Oskoians, although they claim four, counting dad Karl, class of 1974. The three Oskoians were all on campus at the same time for one term during Courtney’s senior year and Christopher’s freshman year.

Courtney, who graduated in 2011 was the first of her generation to come to Kettering. The Industrial Engineering major currently works for General Motors. She was followed by Cameron, majoring in Business and scheduled to graduate in 2013. Christopher Oskoian followed both his siblings in different ways. Like Courtney he is majoring in Industrial Engineering, and like Cameron, serves on Kettering Student Government (KSG) and is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

“We all were involved closely with each other on campus,” said Christopher, adding, “Courtney and I participated in some events together including singing a duet of the National Anthem at the Freshman Convocation. 

Cameron and Christopher both held a chair on the KSG Finance Council.  “Cameron was Treasurer while I was Communications Asset Manager,” said Christopher.  “It was very cool working together with him because I saw a side of him that I had never seen before.  I saw the true leader that he is and how he is very good at managing anything.” Other shared interests include intramural sports and their fraternity.

Despite maintaining separate on-campus lives, Christopher said “it was always nice to see them during classes and getting the sibling love punch or shove in the hallway.”

And as the youngest sibling he said “everyone knew that I was the third Oskoian on campus.  Everyone knew me as Little Oskoian. My favorite would have to be when professors that have had all three of us and be amazed that there was another Oskoian at Kettering.” According to Christopher, all three siblings  have been called Professor Bell’s favorite student.

The Silers:

The Siler family of St. Clair, Mich., took an alliterative approach to attending Kettering, with brothers Brian and Bradley in B-Section and sister Ashley in A-Section. Brian was the first to come to Kettering, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He currently works for his former co-op employer, TRW Automotive. With Brian and Ashley in different sections, the two rarely saw each other on campus. Ashley admitted that Brian’s co-op experience was a factor in her attending Kettering.

Like Brian, Ashley Siler is a Mechanical Engineering major. She graduated in March 2012, and continues to work for her co-op employer, Cosma Engineering. Bradley is scheduled to graduate in 2014, also with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He would like to continue with his co-op employer, Chrysler, while pursuing a master’s degree. Bradley said having met some of his brother’s friends made adjusting to college life a little easier.

The TenHuisen-Dunhams:

Jenny TenHuisen and April Dunham are sisters who also shared a section but only overlapped for one term. Jenny graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. She is currently employed by Timken in Ohio.

The Shaker brothersWhile Jenny said it was comforting to have family on campus with her, she had to be careful not to hover. “I have always been a protective older sister,” she said, “it was difficult for me to try to be hands-off and let April adjust to college in her own way.” They still wound up in Alpha Phi sorority and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) together.

The Shakers:

The Shaker brothers, Steve and Bob, are in the same section and admit to sharing a lot of on-campus activities, but they try to do things individually as well. “I came to Kettering first,” said Steve, “I told him he should go to Kettering. He didn't listen and went somewhere else. After the first year, he transferred to KU,” he added, as only an older brother could.