Quality Education Keeps Family Close to Home


Parents Mike and Mary Jo Schwend, along with siblings Scott and Emily, celebrate with Sarah, who earned a master’s degree in May.

Students often venture miles away from their families when they go to college, but for the Schwends, receiving a great education means moving only a few blocks away from home.

“For me, nothing beat staying close to home with my family,” said Scott, an accounting and finance major.

Attending Truman is something of a tradition for the Schwends. In total, 10 members of the family have attended the University, including both parents, seven siblings and an uncle.

“Having one of the best universities in the country located right in your backyard made the choice to leave our hometown more difficult,” said Mike (’83, ’90), the patriarch of the Schwends.

The three most-recent students, Sarah, Scott and Emily, said that while older siblings did not directly “recruit” the younger ones, it was always a known option.

“Hearing my siblings and parents talk about how much they love Truman definitely helped my decision,” said Emily, a business administration major. “I considered attending other colleges, but Truman provides an outstanding education, and it just so happens to be in my hometown.”

When Schwend children begin looking at schools, other members of the family keep their fingers crossed that the soon-to-be college freshman will stay close to home. Only two immediate family members chose to attend college elsewhere. According to Sarah, Scott and Emily, the “odd men out” are occasionally teased by the family that they couldn’t “handle” Truman, but it’s all in good fun.

“It doesn’t help them when there are so many of us that can defend Truman,” Scott said.

For the Schwends, staying close to home is a bonus for attending an already prestigious school. After watching older siblings grow up, develop careers and take pride in their alma mater, Sarah, Scott and Emily knew Truman not only represented home and a close-knit family – it also meant a useful degree and a good education.

“Truman can be tough, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Scott said. “As a student, I have been
able to learn in an environment that I believe prepares you for the real world.”

Though the siblings are often recognized on campus for being a “Schwend kid,” they still feel some anonymity and get the full college experience even living close to home. Sarah was the first member of the family to attend Truman’s School of Business and join business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi. She thinks the opportunities to introduce herself and establish relationships with students and professors have been ultimately fulfilling.

“I am so proud to say I have a degree from Truman,” Sarah said.

After earning her second degree in May, Sarah (’13, ’16) joined sisters Erin (’04), Jenny (’11) and Amy (’15) as Schwends who have completed their Truman careers. Should the youngest family members, Annie and Matthew, choose to attend, there would be four Schwends still to earn degrees.

As the matriarch, Mary Jo Schwend (’81, ’83) enjoys the family tradition. For her, the best part about her children being at Truman is that it is easier to have them over for dinner. Having seven of the 10 children continue to make Kirksville their home also has been incredibly rewarding.

“As a mom, it’s what you always want,” Mary Jo said.

— Hannah Litwiller (’16)

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