Spring 2009 Commencement stories
It may not be unusual for twins to graduate together but for Jodi and Edwin Koester of Waynesboro, the path to Penn State Mont Alto’s Commencement where they will walk together on May 16th has been hard earned and untraditional.
“I’ve learned the difference between a job and a career,” says Jodi. She and Ed graduated from Waynesboro High School in 1999 with no desire to pursue a college degree. But after six years in the working world, she and her brother realized they needed to go back to school in order to obtain their dreams. At age 24, they enrolled at Penn State Mont Alto together and both siblings have made the Dean’s List in every semester they have been students at Penn State. Jodi will graduate this week with a bachelor’s degree with distinction in English and hopes to be a college professor someday. Ed spent his first two years at Mont Alto before transitioning to University Park where he completed a bachelor’s degree with high distinction in Film. He has his sight set on Hollywood and a career in the film industry. Ed chose to return to Mont Alto where it all began to walk alongside his sister for commencement.
A self-described “C” student in high school, Jodi says she feels “like a completely different person now.” Ed has taken to saying “go big or go home.” Years ago, he created an 'Impossible List' to record all the things he believed would never happen for him. The purpose of the list was to keep him aware of his goals. With graduation, he will check "number 4" off his list. Ed says, "I can't quite express how lucky I feel to have begun my education at Mont Alto. First, being on a smaller campus just makes the entire transition so much simpler. It was great preparation for UP. Second, the teachers at Mont Alto remember me when I come back to visit and that just reinforces [its] home-like quality."
Both graduates plan to take a year off before beginning master’s degree programs.
Kevin Braun will be walking in the footsteps of his father at commencement. Braun will accept an associate’s degree in Forestry Technology just as his father Dennis Braun did at Mont Alto in 1975. He plans to transition to University Park in the fall to complete a bachelor’s degree in Urban Forestry.
Father and son are from Lewisburg, PA. “I was always interested in what my dad did,” says Kevin, an Eagle Scout. “I’m used to being outside and I don’t regret it.” Dennis says he was surprised at first to learn his son would follow in his footsteps but he added, “it is real neat when we are together. We talk about trees wherever we are. This has bonded us together. I feel real close to my son.” Dennis and his graduating class in 1975 built a log cabin which stands to this day near the saw mill behind Mont Alto Hall on campus.