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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Family Weekend: Westward bound: Destiny leads to the UA

    In 1914, after seeing an ad for the UA in The Saturday Evening Post, my great-grandfather left Missouri on a westward-bound train. At the time, the UA was simply Old Main, the agriculture building and, in my dad’s words, “creosote flats.” Yet, despite the sparse landscape, Bruce Hannah found a home in Tucson — where he met my great-grandmother and started a successful appliance store.

    My great-grandfather was the first of several generations of UA graduates. In the early 1950s, my grandfather John R. Hannah entered law school at the UA. During his second year, he met a young woman named Rita, who became my grandmother.

    “Your grandfather was the smartest in the class, way ahead of everybody else,” my grandmother told me. “I had always liked brilliant men, and there he was.”

    John Hannah Jr., my father, followed in the footsteps of my grandparents. By the time he entered law school, campus consisted of more than three buildings, and the Lute Olson era of basketball was about to dawn. My father graduated from the James E. Rogers College of Law in 1984.

    The UA was an entirely different place in the 1980s than it was when my great-grandfather first set foot in Tucson. Likewise, much has changed since my dad’s graduation. While some changes have certainly been for the better, others should make us yearn for the past.

    “I chose UA law school because of my family’s history, and because it was cheap for in-state students,” my dad explained. “I don’t think it cost more than about $600 per semester.I paid my own way through law school without borrowing money just by working part-time. I can’t imagine doing that now.”

    Indeed, not including the cost of books or room and board, one year of tuition at the College of Law currently costs in-state students $24,607. Given that “people are struggling in today’s market to find a well-paying job that requires a law license,” my dad explained, the high cost of law school makes one question the value of a law degree.

    Another unfortunate difference between the UA that I know and the one that my grandparents knew involves attendance at athletic events. While current students must camp out in long lines before football and basketball games, sometimes only to be denied entrance, my dad could simply “walk up to the box office and get a ticket.” My grandparents, too, sat in the student section for almost every football game.

    “Your grandfather loved football and baseball and still does,” my grandmother reminisced. “When we graduated, we got seats on the 50-yard line.”

    Some changes, however, have been far more positive.

    My grandmother remembers being “one of only four women in a class of about 40.” Although she said she was always “treated quite well as a woman,” all of the most successful students in her class were men. My father, in contrast, recalls that many of the top students during his law school years were women. Among law students in the Class of 2016, 36 percent are women, and women comprise just over 50 percent of the UA’s graduate and undergraduate population for fall 2014. Since its inception, the UA has made incredible strides in increasing the diversity of its student body.

    And despite all of the changes that have occurred at the UA since 1914, some things will always remain the same — such as the way our university draws different people from across the country and world, and the pride that comes with being a Wildcat.

    _______________

    Elizabeth Hannah is a neuroscience & cognitive science sophomore. Follow her on Twitter.



    *Editor’s Note: The headline to this commentary was updated on Oct. 16, 2014.



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