Making McDaniel a family tradition

August 31, 2010

As Bonnie Sarigianis charts her own course on the Hill, she’ll encounter touchstones left by her mother, her grandparents and her great-grandfather. Sarigianis, a junior transfer student, is the fourth generation in her family to call the college alma mater.

Great-grandfather Roy Chambers ’29 rode a cattle car from his Nebraska home to Chicago on the first leg of his journey to Westminster and the college that had recruited him to play football. To earn money on campus, he told all his friends to leave their shoes out in the hallway at night, and they would be shined to perfection by morning.

Chambers’ great-granddaughter will pass by the flagpole between Hill and McDaniel halls that bears his name as president of the class of 1929. He and Verona Walsh, daughter of the then-mayor of Westminster, married, and “Hoot,” as he was known by classmates, went on to have a distinguished career in the Army, serving in World War II and the Korean War before retiring as a major.

Politics and community service filled Chambers’ days after retirement, says granddaughter Chris Albert Sarigianis, who graduated from the college in 1979.

“A commitment to serve is a value we all learned on the Hill,” says Sarigianis, a Social Work major who has managed to find time to volunteer and help others while raising four children and serving in various positions in her field. “My parents (Charles ’52 and Suzanne Chambers M.S. ’87 Albert) have always helped people, just as my grandfather did. My mother has been a Westminster city councilwoman for 15 years and is still very active in the community.

Bonnie Sarigianis ’12 and her mom Chris Albert Sarigianis ’79 at the Old Main bell

“You graduate inspired to go out and make a difference,” Sarigianis says of the common thread that runs through the family’s generations. Then, she adds, “Well, community service and football games. None of us – my grandfather, of course, but my father and me too – would miss a game while we were students here.”

In fact, Sarigianis joked that she and her father, who earned his degree in Chemistry and worked for many years in a research lab in Baltimore, were talking about the floats they always helped build for the traditional Homecoming parade – and how none of them ever won a prize.

Still, float-building and tailgating were part of the then-WMC experience they hope Bonnie relishes while she is a student here. She’s headed in the same direction as her grandfather with plans to major in Chemistry.

But she’ll learn in the cutting-edge labs and tech-savvy classrooms of Eaton Hall and live in the contemporary North Village apartments. And there’s no doubt that she’ll leave her own set of footprints on the Hill.