Eagle pride runs deep in the hearts of many EWU students, graduates and their families. But not too many people can say that pride spans nearly a century, stretching across four generations of a family that has a story touching every corner of campus and its legacy as a teaching school.
“Eastern and Cheney has always been ‘home’ for me,” says Marla Carr ’88 and ’00, who played volleyball for Pam Parks at EWU while earning her first degree in communications.
But Carr’s amazing family connection to EWU started long before she set foot on the volleyball court, and continues to this day. Daughters Caitlin and Alyse Carr are graduating this spring – some 93 years after their great-grandmother, Elizabeth Conley, received her teaching certificate from what was then Cheney Normal School in 1924.
“My entire family on my mother’s side is from Cheney, my dad is from Wilbur,” says Carr. “They met at EWU. My parents were married at the old First Christian Church which sits on the EWU campus. My grandmother taught Sunday school there as well.” Carr also had many aunts and uncles living in Cheney, some graduating in the early 50s with degrees in education.
“My uncle met my aunt at EWU while registering for classes in Showalter. They married and lived in “Trailerville” (temporary housing for married ex-servicemen) while my uncle completed his education degree.”
Carr’s father, Larry Cremeen, graduated from Eastern with a business degree in 1961, and worked at the flour mill down on main to pay for college. And of course she married an Eagle. Husband Chris earned his secondary education degree from EWU in 1992. Carr herself came back and completed the master’s program in elementary education in 2000.
This all might explain why Carr’s family members have always felt at home at EWU. “I had aunts and uncles form St. John/Endicott and Spokane that made every volleyball game. I was beyond excited when my girls chose to attend EWU and it meant so much to my dad and mom as well. EWU has always felt comfortable to both myself and my girls as they heard the many stories my husband and I told, and of course all the stories that my parents told from their times at EWU.”
Those daughters - who will march together during June commencement – now have their own stories. Caitlin Carr finished school last December with a degree in secondary education. Alyse is graduating with a degree in history, and will begin a master’s program in elementary education in January.
“I am proud to be a fourth generation Eastern graduate and carry on the tradition and pride that started back in 1923 with my great-grandmother,” says Caitlin. “We grew up visiting the small town of Cheney, coming to Seahawk training camps, Eagle football games, and visiting family. So Cheney became a place of comfort to us. Eastern Washington University is and forever will be HOME.”
Adds Alyse, “I didn't really think of any other college because I knew it was a family thing to go to Eastern. Great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, parents and cousins have all attended Eastern before me and I knew it was in my blood to be an Eag.”
The sisters, who are 19 months apart, call it a blessing and lifetime highlight to be able to walk together at commencement.
“This town and this university will always be a special place to me and my family, and will hopefully carry down through future generations. Go Eags!” says Alyse.
Carrying on the EWU tradition, and hopefully adding on to the seven education degrees the extended family has earned over the years, is a no brainer for Marla Carr.
She had a one word answer when asked if she hopes her deep Eastern connection doesn’t stop with daughters Caitlin and Alyse.
“Absolutely!” she quickly replied.